Bandwidth-guzzling iPhone called "Hummer of cellphones"

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
While AT&T and Apple have remained silent on the absence of tethering and MMS with the iPhone, a new report provides insight on the effect an influx of bandwidth-heavy mobile users have had on the wireless network.



Digging into customer dissatisfaction with the AT&T network, The New York Times revealed that the carrier has struggled to keep up with demand as iPhone owners use more and more bandwidth. The report suggests that AT&T's reputation could be tarnished because, for some users, its network is unable to keep up with demand. The bandwidth issues have led to delays of tethering and multimedia messaging, much-anticipated features for iPhone users.



"The result is dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&T?s cellular network strains to meet the demand," the report, which compared the device to a gas-guzzling Hummer, states. "Another result is outraged customers."



The average iPhone user reportedly consumes 10 times the bandwidth of a typical smartphone user, but that is expected to change in the near future. The growth of the iPhone and its impact on the AT&T network has even led to lawsuits. As other mobile devices emulate the iPhone and also use more network capacity, the problem is expected to grow on all networks, not just AT&T.



Even John Donovan, chief technology officer for AT&T, admitted his company's struggles. "It's been a challenging year for us," he told the Times.



But in the face of demand, AT&T plans to spend $18 billion this year to upgrade and expand its 3G network. And the company has no plans to cap data use, whether solely through the phone or via tethering with a computer.



AT&T announced Wednesday that it had improved its 3G coverage in metro New York and New Jersey. The company expects to roll out nationwide improvements with HSPA 7.2 technology, with the upgrade to be completed in 2011. And 1,900 new cell towers are planned for construction in the U.S. this year as well. But expansion isn't so simple.



"As fast as AT&T wants to go, many cities require lengthy filing processes to erect new cell towers," the report states. "Even after towers are installed, it can take several months for software upgrades to begin operating at faster speeds."



Many analysts believe that when Apple's exclusive contract with AT&T expires in 2010, the handset maker will offer the iPhone on other carriers. The most obvious jump would be to Verizon, the largest carrier in the U.S., ahead of No. 2 AT&T.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 145
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    i've had my 3GS since launch and I think one month i was at 1GB plus or minus a few hundred MB



    just because of this article i think i'll turn my wifi off and try to hit 5GB next month
  • Reply 2 of 145
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    It's the network- no, it's the phone- no, it's the user.
  • Reply 3 of 145
    They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.





    18 million times $40 is....well, a lot. It's not like it was a surprise that iPhones can use the data network. AT&T was just banking on the fact that nobody would want to (based on old shitty smartphone designs). That's their own mistake.



    "Fix your network with the HUGE F'ing pile of cash you have from the iPhone subscriber base!", is the only advise I have.



    Sheldon
  • Reply 4 of 145
    Obviously every carrier is going to need to step up, this is what every customer is going to be demanding from the new breed of smartphones. It is a testament to how much better the iPhone is than the competition that people aren't running from it based on my personal experiences with dropped calls, voice messages showing up without the phone ever ringing, text messages arriving days later, and random dead spaces. All the more reason to end exclusive agreements, let the carriers with the capability compete for the high-bandwidth customers.
  • Reply 5 of 145
    I'm glad I live in Alabama. I have 3G and surf my iPhone like a computer. I have no problems and most of the time I don't turn on wifi the 3G is so fast. There aren't that many iPhones here so not much congestion. I was in Manhattan a few months ago and my iPhone was painfully slow so feel sorry for the people having to put up with that.
  • Reply 6 of 145
    Internet tethering has been available in India from nearly day 1, it just MMS there are sorting out now. These issues have nothing to do with iPhone, but AT&T infrastructure. I just can not work this out, you know the iphone going to change the way people use a smartphone, you know people are going to use it more than their home computer, its going to cause large increase in bandwidth, but you are still behind the in the game.



    Good luck my US colleagues :-)



    Just to add salt to the wound for US colleagues, I pay Rupee 499 (USD 10-11) a month for 250mb of data plan, which is way more than enough for me. Intotal I pay roughly US$20 for mobile and data plan, no 2 year contract. Yes we pay the full price of the phone, but with cheaper plans, you get that back versus your system very quickly.



    Soul
  • Reply 7 of 145
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.





    18 million times $40 is....well, a lot. It's not like it was a surprise that iPhones can use the data network. AT&T was just banking on the fact that nobody would want to (based on old shitty smartphone designs). That's their own mistake.



    "Fix your network with the HUGE F'ing pile of cash you have from the iPhone subscriber base!", is the only advise I have.



    Sheldon



    Thank you.

    I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!

    I know I have a premium product and therefore pay a premium service but I'm paying for unlimited MMS. Where is it?
  • Reply 8 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ralphdaily View Post


    I'm glad I live in Alabama. I have 3G and surf my iPhone like a computer. I have no problems and most of the time I don't turn on wifi the 3G is so fast. There aren't that many iPhones here so not much congestion. I was in Manhattan a few months ago and my iPhone was painfully slow so feel sorry for the people having to put up with that.



    manhattan...alabama........manhattan....alabama... Hmm....lol
  • Reply 9 of 145
    Let's all be sympathetic for poor AT&T WIreless, who apparently just wanted to pocket our money instead of spending it to upgrade their infrastructure.



    Mobile Safari is not Pocket IE. In the 3 years I've been using company-issued WM phones I think I've used the browser on them maybe 4 times-- and those were desperation moves, and the experience was so bad I wanted to take the stylus and gouge out my eyes each time.



    The idea that people would actually *use* a usable mobile browser was apparently beyond AT&T's reckoning. They will be in seriously deep doo-doo once Verizon gets their hands on the iPhone in a year or so.



    ~Philly
  • Reply 10 of 145
    eventually around the world, slow internet will be an issue of the past
  • Reply 11 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem.



    I assume you are on the enterprise plan? I only pay 30 a month.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!





    I'd like to switch to your electric company because I don't get that low rate for my monthly electric bill. I am at 12 cents a kilowatt however............
  • Reply 12 of 145
    I think a Formula 1 race car would be a more appropriate analogy if you want to discuss bandwidth usage. iPhones use up a lot of bandwidth (just like a F1 car uses up tons of gas per mile), but you also get magnificent performance, speed, handling, ergonomics, telemetry, and precision.
  • Reply 13 of 145
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by carloblackmore View Post


    I think a Formula 1 race car would be a more appropriate analogy if you want to discuss bandwidth usage. iPhones use up a lot of bandwidth (just like a F1 car uses up tons of gas per mile), but you also get magnificent performance, speed, handling, ergonomics, telemetry, and precision.



    Excellent!
  • Reply 14 of 145
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    1. It will be interesting if, once tethering is enabled, it will force Verizon to lower their data charges (currently $60/month with a 5 GB cap). A lot of folks have stayed with Verizon because they dislike ATT, but tethering could be the last straw that gets them to switch. I know it would tempt me. Maybe I'll use it as a barganning chip to try and negotiate a lower rate for Verizon's mi-fi card and just get a touch.



    2. So is the bottleneck in ATT's network the wireless link (cell tower to iPhone) or their backend infrastructure? Sounds like it might be a bit of both.



    3. Imagine how much more bandwidth would be used if Apple allowed Flash and Java applets to load and run in Safari! (I'm assuming it doesn't bother downloading them if they can't be run.)
  • Reply 15 of 145
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,166member
    Since the beginning of this semester 2 weeks ago me and many of my friends have been experiencing many dropped calls during morning and early afternoon hours within our university campus. The problem seems worst during the 10 minutes between classes. AT&T was always excellent in our area but I guess they are really having trouble keeping up with demand. The good news is their 3G coverage approaching our town and now just few miles away vs. 30 miles early this summer.
  • Reply 16 of 145
    oh poor, poor telcos.

    are those evil users trying to actually use what they pay for?



    awwww....
  • Reply 17 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    They are charging me $40 a month for "DATA", the same as I pay for my comcast cable modem. The cable modem runs circles around the marginal 3G service I get from AT&T.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Thank you.

    I've never seen any utility bill this high- ever. It's almost double my electric bill!

    I know I have a premium product and therefore pay a premium service but I'm paying for unlimited MMS. Where is it?



    Aren’t you two brilliant. How can anyone argue with your logic that slower bandwidth should cost less than faster bandwidth, regardless of the medium in which it is sent?
  • Reply 18 of 145
    Making calls is impossible with AT&T, so what do they think people are going to do with this product?
  • Reply 19 of 145
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post


    Aren’t you two brilliant. How can anyone argue with your logic that slower bandwidth should less than faster bandwidth, regardless of the medium it is sent.



    Maybe you should learn how to write a sentence- "slower bandwidth should less"?

    LESS THAN WHAT???
  • Reply 20 of 145
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    So why doesn't AT&T offer a voice-only plan yet? I don't want to pay for data (Wifi is fine for my specific needs) so I wouldn't be using up their precious bandwidth.
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