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Apple's 2009 iPhone to support faster 3G networks - report

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
A new report indicates that the next iPhone hardware release will offer "a significantly faster Internet connection," harmonizing with previous coverage of AT&T's network upgrade plans.

The posting, by Dan Frommer of Silicon Alley Insider, only cited "a plugged-in source in the mobile industry," and the only speculated about what that might mean for new iPhone hardware.

However, at last year's Morgan Stanley Communications Conference, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega outlined the company's plans for upgrading its US networks during a presentation to atendees. He commented on the matter again this February in an interview with Engadget.

Handset and mobile network speeds

After describing the company's ongoing efforts to expand use of its 850MHz spectrum to strengthen 3G reception in cities, de la Vega said, "we're also looking to improve the speeds of our 3G network. As I mentioned before, we have the infrastructure capability to go to 7.2 [Mbit/s]."

The current iPhone 3G's hardware only supports mobile downloads up to 3.6Mbit/s. A phone hardware upgrade would be required to take advantage of the new level of 7.2Mbit/s HSPA service AT&T is now provisioning.

The original iPhone was similarly linked to an enhanced rollout of EDGE service, and last year's iPhone 3G stressed AT&T's fledgling 3G network, which was also bolstered in conjunction with Apple's launch. Apple itself installed 3G transmitters in its retail stores.



HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE

How fast this year's new iPhone will get actually depends upon the radio components Apple can source. AT&T's long term plans include an upgrade to 3GPP Release 7 (HSPA+) and later Release 8, also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution). LTE refactors UMTS service as an entirely IP-based, fourth generation network based on orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing technology.

"We've already got HSPA [networks built out] and when we go to Release 7," de la Vega said, "we can go all the way up to 20 megabits per second." Some UMTS networks in other countries already support 20Mbit/s HSPA+ Release 7 (also referred to as 3.5G), and many have supported 7.2Mbit/s HSPA for some time, making it straightforward for Apple to launch a new iPhone with support for 7.2Mbit/s HSPA mobile networks, if not the even faster 20Mbit/s HSPA+.

"We are, right now, capable of taking our network and improving the speed of it up to 20 megabits per second. So we think that carries us through the next year, year and a half, then I think you begin to look at LTE as the next step [in the 2010-2011 time frame]," de la Vega said.

[Update and clarification: As originally noted at first publication, the current iPhone 3G's hardware only supports mobile downloads up to 3.6Mbit/s.

According to an interview GearLog conducted with Apple's Greg Joswiak, the iPhone 3G uses "the HSDPA 3.6 high-speed network standard, which is faster than the HSDPA 1.8 standard previously reported."

Wikipedia's notes on AT&T's currently deployed US 3G networks: "Speeds up to 7.2 Mbit/s are available in most markets. Areas that use UMTS instead of HSUPA as the uplink protocol are limited to 1.8 Mbit/s speeds."

An earlier update to this article indicated that the current iPhone 3G used Infineon's X-GOLD 608 platform and could apparently support faster speeds, based on comments made by iFixIt, which correctly identified a power management chip designed to be used with that platform, but did not state that all the platform's chips (which can support 7.2Mbit/s networks) were being used in the iPhone 3G. They apparently are not. ]
post #2 of 28
I am so ready for something faster than the 50Kbps I get on my iPhone with EDGE.
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

I am so ready for something faster than the 50Kbps I get on my iPhone with EDGE.

I am pretty much an Apple fanboy, but even I feel like I fell for this on the 3G model. I would still like the amazing speed promised on the last revision.

That hook looks awfully familiar.
post #4 of 28
No offence, but that chart is pretty useless as a description of anything. What would help more is a discussion (and a chart) of relative speeds. There's a few crumbs spread throughout the article, but a chart of relative speeds of various radio networks and where we are today would have made the article a lot more intelligible.

I find wireless "g" to be intolerably slow in accessing the internet, and everything else is some degree slower than that at the moment. If the top speed of the 2010-2011 iPhone is not faster than today's wireless g then none of this is even remotely important anyway because "sucking slightly less" is not really an improvement.

Even though the article fails to compare them, it seems from the wiki that the "super speed" far in the future 3G would still be slower than the worst Wi-Fi.
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post #5 of 28
That's all great sounding, but when my current 3G is in Edge mode 98% of the time, and even worse drops down to GPRS mode thanks to AT&T's less than stellar Northern California network, I'll believe it when I see it.

Maybe the tipster just meant Apple would choose a better partner network that can actually deliver on the promise of their marketing BS.
post #6 of 28
This sounds great!

Personally I would assume 7.2 mbit downlink, or possibly 14.4 mbit, for the iPhone.

The Swedish telecom company Telia (the first company in Sweden to offer the iPhone) have just launched an upgrade that will take their network (at least in cities with more population than 50 000) to 14.4 mbit. Though they say they still don't have the 3G modems available to support it.

Another telecom company here in Sweden have announced that they are aiming for 21 mbit networks soon.

The Swedish telecom provider Ericsson demonstrated 42 mbit 3G networks at the MWC congress held a month or so ago.
I believe that other providers (Huawei?) have also shown 42 mbit technology.

One point to consider is that the higher the speed the higher the power consumption, so possibly 7.2 mbit downlink would be a fair point to aim for for the iPhone (possibly 14.4 using USB tethering?)
This would have to be supported by higher speed CPU:s (and possibly GPU:s) to make use of the increased speed (that is, to reduce web page render times etc.).

I would also assume that Apple will support increased uplink speeds (HSUPA), maybe around 1.5 to 2.5 mbit?

After that, possibly an LTE version. LTE has benefits (not only speed) compared to 3G, but of course it will take a considerable time for operators to build their network coverage for that.....
post #7 of 28
post #8 of 28
There's a difference between users sharing a wider bandwidth for better connectivity, and each individual getting the full 7.2Mbps. The service will be better, but not necessarily 7.2.
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post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

No offence, but that chart is pretty useless as a description of anything. What would help more is a discussion (and a chart) of relative speeds. There's a few crumbs spread throughout the article, but a chart of relative speeds of various radio networks and where we are today would have made the article a lot more intelligible.

I find wireless "g" to be intolerably slow in accessing the internet, and everything else is some degree slower than that at the moment. If the top speed of the 2010-2011 iPhone is not faster than today's wireless g then none of this is even remotely important anyway because "sucking slightly less" is not really an improvement.

Even though the article fails to compare them, it seems from the wiki that the "super speed" far in the future 3G would still be slower than the worst Wi-Fi.

Wireless g shouldn't be your problem for slow internet, nor is it the slowest WiFi standard. Even wireless b shouldn't bottleneck your internet.
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post #10 of 28
What good does having a iphone that supports 7.2Mbit/s HSPA do to you if AT&T wont's serve you not even 1/2 of 1 Mbit/s?
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

What good does having a iphone that supports 7.2Mbit/s HSPA do to you if AT&T wont's serve you not even 1/2 of 1 Mbit/s?

You know what I've been saying?
What good is playing games and listening to music on your phone if you have to charge it twice a day?
post #12 of 28
There simply is no alternative for Apple, they have to put the faster hardware in the next gen iPhone, since the phone is so big in countries that are way ahead of the US in mobile technology.

In Sweden for example (Stockholm is mobile phone Silicon valley) where we've been at 3,5 G 7,2mbit for years and the 4G LTE network is being built and tested right now.

Telia, the mobile provider selling iPhone in Scandinavia, today announced that it's entire nework will be upgraded to" turbo-3G+" with a teorethical top speed at 14,4 Mbit/s. As of today 4 million subscribers in Sweden (total population of 9 million) can access the upgraded network.

A new iPhone with only 3+ Mbit would be totally unacceptable for Telia and it's customers. Especially since teethering will be available in the upcoming handset.

http://www.teliasonera.com/press/pre....itemId=415711
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I find wireless "g" to be intolerably slow in accessing the internet, and everything else is some degree slower than that at the moment. If the top speed of the 2010-2011 iPhone is not faster than today's wireless g then none of this is even remotely important anyway because "sucking slightly less" is not really an improvement.

Pretty odd thing to say. I have a hard time believing that your 50 Mbps wifi connection is holding you back as much as your 2 Mbps internet connection, don't you think?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I find wireless "g" to be intolerably slow in accessing the internet

Presumably you are talking specifically about 802.11g with an iPhone, and not just 802.11g in general? 802.11g can sustain about 20 mbit/s real throughput, most people's internet connection is much slower. I've got about 5 mbit at home and that's plenty fast enough for everything apart from downloading huge (100s of MB) files if I'm in a hurry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

If the top speed of the 2010-2011 iPhone is not faster than today's wireless g then none of this is even remotely important anyway because "sucking slightly less" is not really an improvement.

That even 802.11g is slow on an iPhone should give you the clue that the problem isn't the data rate to the phone. The problem is that the CPU can't process the data fast enough. Web surfing has become quite a cpu intensive affair - we don't notice now on our 2 GHz+ dual-core multi-issue pipelined CPUs, but go find a Mac or PC with 500 MHz CPU and 256 MB RAM and see what the browsing experience is like even with a super-fast internet connection. It'll probably be similar to the iPhone - irritatingly slow.
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post #15 of 28
HELLO?! How can you write such a long post about the future of cellphone tech in regards to the iPhone and completely forget about the fact that the current iPhone 3G does not yet support HSUPA -- the upload portion of HSPA. It's pretty obvious that HSUPA-enabled fast and low-latency data uploading is the next phase for UMTS/HSDPA cellphones like the iPhone. AT&T's network already supports HSUPA (and HSDPA obviously) and works with current PC data modems.

It is entirely logical and most likely IMO that HSUPA uplink support is (at least part of) what is being referred to from these rumor sources with the "faster internet" comment. That said, I am not sure about the current state of HSUPA supporting chipsets and their availability or lack thereof for current cellphones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

No offence, but that chart is pretty useless as a description of anything. What would help more is a discussion (and a chart) of relative speeds. There's a few crumbs spread throughout the article, but a chart of relative speeds of various radio networks and where we are today would have made the article a lot more intelligible.

I made one a while ago, will post again... Unfortunately, I just reformatted and don't have the XLS in front of me, so here is an old screenshot from a while ago. It is NOT perfect, particularly in regards to LTE/4G since the tech is changing so fast, but it gives a good general idea.

post #16 of 28
Maybe if 3G would even work like it supposed to it would be great... What a waste that was. With all the fucking tech we have and we can't get much more than EDGE (not talking about WIFI folks) in real-world use. Apple/AT&T/Whoever I pay to make it work - just make it work.
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmike View Post

Maybe if 3G would even work like it supposed to it would be great... What a waste that was. With all the fucking tech we have and we can't get much more than EDGE (not talking about WIFI folks) in real-world use. Apple/AT&T/Whoever I pay to make it work - just make it work.

Do you live or work in an area with 3G coverage?
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stockholm View Post

There simply is no alternative for Apple, they have to put the faster hardware in the next gen iPhone, since the phone is so big in countries that are way ahead of the US in mobile technology.

In Sweden for example (Stockholm is mobile phone Silicon valley) where we've been at 3,5 G 7,2mbit for years and the 4G LTE network is being built and tested right now.

Telia, the mobile provider selling iPhone in Scandinavia, today announced that it's entire nework will be upgraded to" turbo-3G+" with a teorethical top speed at 14,4 Mbit/s. As of today 4 million subscribers in Sweden (total population of 9 million) can access the upgraded network.

A new iPhone with only 3+ Mbit would be totally unacceptable for Telia and it's customers. Especially since teethering will be available in the upcoming handset.

http://www.teliasonera.com/press/pre....itemId=415711

The current phone is 3.6. The new phone will be 7.2. It's in the article.
post #19 of 28
there really be any faster networks in 2009 or even in 2010? Not so sure...

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post #20 of 28
Few things to be aware of:
  • The air interface speed is for raw data. Usable payload speed, e.g. surfing, is lower.
  • Air interface speed is affected by distance between cell and phone.
  • Air interface speed is shared between all users in that radio sector.
  • Backhaul transmission (connection between cell site and "the Internet") needs to be upgraded to match the air interface. For some carriers, this has been the problem limiting the throughput, and not the air interface.
This will remain true for the foreseeable future.
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The current phone is 3.6. The new phone will be 7.2. It's in the article.

The current iPhone might be 3.6 Mbit in the US (probably because AT&T limits its network to 3.6 Mbit, not because the iPhones sold in the US are limited to 3.6 Mbit) but in the UK it most definitely is 7.2 Mbit, as people have measured speeds in excess of 6 Mbit there.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

The current iPhone might be 3.6 Mbit in the US (probably because AT&T limits its network to 3.6 Mbit, not because the iPhones sold in the US are limited to 3.6 Mbit) but in the UK it most definitely is 7.2 Mbit, as people have measured speeds in excess of 6 Mbit there.

I'm just going by what it says.
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

There's a difference between users sharing a wider bandwidth for better connectivity, and each individual getting the full 7.2Mbps. The service will be better, but not necessarily 7.2.

Actually not quite so. A standard WCDMA phone uses 1 scrambling code and a simpler air modulation giving 384kbps.

With HSDPA, they improved on the modulation and gave the possibility to use more than one code at once, thus improving bandwidth (other improvements as well but irrelevant for this disc.). The first implementations used 5 codes for 3.6Mbps (theoretical).

The 7.2 Mbps comes from using 10 scrambling codes to multiplex data in the cell. The problem is that in good conditions, the cell contains about 14-15 usable codes for HSDPA. Thus if you have more than one "7.2 Mbps" user in the cell, they'll have to share the available codes thereby lowering the actual bandwidth received.

Add to this changes in radio conditions (forcing lower BW modulation changes to improve SNR) and you'll see that 7.2 Mbps (5 Mbps practical?) or even higher speeds do require a cell with relatively low code usage and good reception.

HSPA+ will improve on modulation so that will bring more capacity again, but using more complex modulation requires better radio reception as well. So they wont work in high interference or edge-of-cell locations and the phone+network will fall back to simpler modulations and lower bandwidths in these cases.

I doubt that HSPA+ will be in the next iPhone as I don't believe any vendor has released such phones yet. More likely 10-code HSDPA with possible uplink improvements via HSUPA. That would make the phone an HSPA (HSDPA + HSUPA) phone.

Edit: Someone responded that the iPhone is already doing over 3.6 Mbps in Europe so it's at least an 10-code phone already. Then that leaves HSUPA or HSPA+ (which is still think is impropable).

Regs, Jarkko
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The current phone is 3.6. The new phone will be 7.2. It's in the article.

Right, my point is why speculate if it will come or not= It is a must. Question remaining is if 7Mbit, and maybe above, will be a premium feature?
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stockholm View Post

Right, my point is why speculate if it will come or not= It is a must. Question remaining is if 7Mbit, and maybe above, will be a premium feature?

Without knowing the cost of the radios, I can't say. Every time you move up in complexity, it becomes more expensive, and difficult to implement.

The current phones seem to have enough receive capacity for a while.

Unfortunately, all over-air bandwidths are subject to factors that make them much slower in actual fact than their theoretical capacity. That's why I have a wired GHz Ethernet network at home. When I do tests on an "n" network, the actual speeds are much lower than what they are supposed to be, while the wired network is close to max.

People are talking about eventual 50 Mbs, and even 100 Mbs. But the reality is that one will never come close to that, even right under the tower.
post #26 of 28
Telstra in Australia has already upgraded to 21mbps.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stockholm View Post

Right, my point is why speculate if it will come or not= It is a must. Question remaining is if 7Mbit, and maybe above, will be a premium feature?

I wasn't speculating. It will come. I think it would be more expensive to offer 7.2 as an upgraded model. It would also bust the market for the phones. Since the major defining characteristic of the phone is its internet capabilities, I would think that Apple would want to make them all the same there. Other features, perhaps.
post #28 of 28
So... it'll be as fast as my iPhone 1.0 when I first bought it?
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