Study points to network weakness as source of iPhone 3G woes

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The results of an informal study of iPhone 3G users worldwide are in, and they suggest that problems with 3G networks -- not the iPhone's hardware -- are the source of a growing number of complaints about poor reception and download speeds.



Commissioned by Wired nearly two weeks ago, the study sought the voluntary participation of iPhone 3G users around the world to test their iPhone's network connection at TestMyiPhone.com and submit the honest results of those speed tests to an interactive Zeemap.



After analyzing over 2,600 submissions (and more than a thousand others that were discarded because they were either blank or included an incomplete set of results), Wired concluded that the widely reported iPhone data speed problems "have more to do with carriers' networks than with Apple's handsets."



Overall, the user-submitted results show that 3G networks are performing faster than EDGE around the world -- as would be expected. The best case scenarios reported 3G performance that was seven times that of EDGE, while other scenarios had 3G performing just as slowly as EDGE. In the worse case scenarios, users reported that they were unable to connect to 3G at all.



In particular, participants in Australia reported the slowest average 3G download speeds of about 759 Kbps, while users in Germany and the Netherlands reported the fastest average 3G download speeds of approximately 2,000 Kbps.



When breaking down regional results tied to a specific carrier, AT&T of the U.S. reportedly tied for third with Telstra, Telia and Softbank, with users of those networks reporting average download speeds of roughly 990 Kbps.*European T-Mobile users reported the fastest average speeds of 1,822 Kbps, while Canadian carriers Rogers and its partner Fido ranked second with an average download speed of about 1,330 Kbps.



However, Wired said that US participants account for more than 75 percent of zero-data results, presumably because those users were dropped from AT&T's 3G network during their speed tests. Among the U.S. areas that fared the worst were some major metropolitan areas, such as San Francisco, where 10 out of 30 participants reported 3G speeds that barely match that of EDGE.



"This pattern is linear with femtocell developer Dave Nowicki's explanation that in major metropolitan cities where the most iPhone users reside, 3G towers are getting overloaded, resulting in slowdowns or delivering EDGE-like performance as a result," the report noted.



The fact that European networks appear to be outperforming those in the United States is likely a result their maturity, the report added. While AT&T began rolling out its 3G network in the U.S. in 2004, some of Europe's 3G networks have been undergoing refinements since 2001.



Separately, a Swedish firm specializing in wireless test chambers measured the iPhone's reception and found its sensitivity to be completely normal, ruling out a large scale flaw in the device's hardware design. Combining this finding with those from its iPhone user study, Wired concludes that "it's highly unlikely that Apple is going to wave a magic wand and say, '3G problems, be gone,' with a software update."



Instead, it's believed that changes will need to be made on the part of 3G providers to optimize their networks "in terms of number of towers, how they're positioned and how much bandwidth each tower can handle."



Still, Apple has been proactive in making strides to improve the way iPhones manage a 3G signal with the recent release of iPhone Software 2.0.2.

«13456

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 114
    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??
  • Reply 2 of 114
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    You sure are not here with a bias against Apple?
  • Reply 3 of 114
    physguyphysguy Posts: 915member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??



    [sarcasm]An intelligent, well thought out, well supported post [/sarcasm]
  • Reply 4 of 114
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??



    This site disagrees with your personal findings so it must be a scandal perpetrated by Apple? There are many other sites that rate your bandwidth and they are all showing my speeds in the same range. In fact, this particular site shows my HSDPA speed as just under 5x EDGE, while the others show just over 5x EDGE. Does that mean that al the other sites are also part of Apple's diabolical plan?



    Curiously, I don't recall reading a single post by someone who is complaining about rampant speed issues that have posted their EDGE and HSDPA speed comparisons.
  • Reply 5 of 114
    I participated... it's VERY unscientific. It doesn't survey dropped calls or ANY call quality issues - ONLY download and upload speeds. It doesn't account for people who are moving - walking or driving, etc, etc. Personally, my own issues are related to being indoors and/or covering the bottom third of the phone with my hand. If I'm outside and I don't cover the bottom, the service is fine. I can get strong signal outside, walk inside and it'll drop to EDGE (some places, not most). The Wired survey doesn't even ask people what time of day the test was done.
  • Reply 6 of 114
    I don't know if this is related, but my first edition iPhone has slowed to a crawl with the internet recently. Even low intensity internet activity (bloomberg application, stocks application, NY Times application) are painfully slow. It could be AT&T having growing pains with increased amount of phones accessing the internet. It could also be that the newest software update has slowed down my internet access.



    In other words, the 3G experience may be better than the 3G users think if you compare it to what's going on with the non-3G phones....
  • Reply 7 of 114
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??



    The good news is that Apple is selling over the world the iPhone and in some countries where the 3G network have been available for more years than in the USA we have not issues.



    I was testing the iPhone with other 3G phones, Nokia N95, E61i, Samsung i600, Motorola Q9 and the iPhone work as designed. I can get the same speed with the iPhone and with the Nokia N95.



    The only issue with 2.0 firmware was the time the iPhone took to change from GPRS to 3G, solved with 2.02.



    You have to take in mind that the number of cells available to carry on data are limited, and this is not an iPhone issue, is and operator/network issue.



    Normally the 3G towers are connected with a 10 mbits circuit to the base network, that all the network available10 mbits in those cases. Many are connected with aereal links at 10 mbits, what you can expect, with bad wetther the link become broken every minute.



    The real issue from Apple is that when its detect a 3G network inmediatly try to do the hand shake and create a connection. For this reason many see that other phones have more bars than the iPhone, if you open the web navigator on other phones you will see the same issues than in the iPhone.



    So far so good in Spain we have not big issues with the 3G coverage, we have plenty of pico, micro and wide area antenas.
  • Reply 8 of 114
    justflybobjustflybob Posts: 1,337member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??



    Speaking of clowns...uhem. Well at least you are receiving 5 bars on your "lulz" factor.
  • Reply 9 of 114
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    Bullsh!t



    wonder how much Apple paid these clowns to say this..?



    1/ Apple have already said there is a problem with 3g on the iPhone.



    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    How stupid do they think we are?



    reception overall, regardless of protocol used is substandard on iPhone in my experience.



    Apple... head in the sand much??



    1/ Apple said that there were some specific issues with 2% of 3G calls - not a general problem with connectivity.

    2/ I have a friend with a Samsung 3G phone running windows mobile. And in a few cases I had almost no bars - and he had 3-4 bars. So I asked him to try accessing the internet - and he found that he could not. We've tried this experiment enough times for it to be quite clear that his phone is not reliably showing the quality of his signal.



    My iPhone 3G has been better than I expected - although I had slightly lower expectations than many given my past experience with Cingular/AT&T.
  • Reply 10 of 114
    vinzdvinzd Posts: 2member
    I was surprised to get no more than 500-600 Kbps in France, with the Orange France 3G+ network.



    According to some users forum, seems that this is a fairly common grief amongst iPhone 3G Orange subscribers.



    As a matter of fact, Orange France acknowledged today that it is llimitating the data rate to 384 Kbps.



    In order to limit the growing dismail, Orange promised that from September 15th, they will up teh data rate up to 1 Mbps, which is still by the way well below the 14,4 Mbps theoritical rate the 3G+ (or HSPDA) could achieve on the French carrier network.



    Maybe I should have stayed with the Edge iPhone.



    PS : to the credit of Orange, they did not raise the subscription plans : same price for 3G and Edge.
  • Reply 11 of 114
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Crazy thought:



    Maybe there are network issues, especially with AT&T's US 3G data rates, AND at the same time separate call-connection and 3G-detection issues that have a software fix coming from Apple.



    I'm glad that there's no sign of any issues with the phone itself. The issues can be fixed externally. I hope (speaking as a US resident) that AT&T expands their 3G capacity/coverage sooner rather than later.



    (Imagine if the first iPhone had been 3G, as so many said it simply HAD to be in order to succeed. It would have been bulkier and run on AT&T's 3G network from a year ago, before the improvements they've made. Imagine how bad THAT would have been.)
  • Reply 12 of 114
    sapporobabysapporobaby Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    You sure are not here with a bias against Apple?



    Are you saying Apple didn't admit there was a problem with the phone? You sure you are not here with a bias for Apple?
  • Reply 13 of 114
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Waaaaaaaaaay before the 3G iphone was even hinted at and rumors were floating around about how great 3G was going to be I was saying how AT&T's 3G sucks AND how AT&T guarantees none of its speed rates. Hmmmmmm.
  • Reply 14 of 114
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sapporobaby View Post


    Are you saying Apple didn't admit there was a problem with the phone? You sure you are not here with a bias for Apple?



    Absolutely
  • Reply 15 of 114
    sapporobabysapporobaby Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cryptonome View Post


    The good news is that Apple is selling over the world the iPhone and in some countries where the 3G network have been available for more years than in the USA we have not issues.





    I was testing the iPhone with other 3G phones, Nokia N95, E61i, Samsung i600, Motorola Q9 and the iPhone work as designed. I can get the same speed with the iPhone and with the Nokia N95.[quote]



    I get pretty much the same results. I am using an N82, E61, borrowed N78. Pretty spot on. The main problem I have is stability of the signal with the iPhone. It fluctuates quite a bit more than the other devices.



    Quote:

    You have to take in mind that the number of cells available to carry on data are limited, and this is not an iPhone issue, is and operator/network issue.



    Normally the 3G towers are connected with a 10 mbits circuit to the base network, that all the network available10 mbits in those cases. Many are connected with aereal links at 10 mbits, what you can expect, with bad wetther the link become broken every minute.



    Pretty much true but here they connect with multiple E3's or even STM-1's. 10 mb/s is really nothing and I can not see why they would go that slow, but maybe that is the network build out where you are.
  • Reply 16 of 114
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sapporobaby View Post


    Are you saying Apple didn't admit there was a problem with the phone? You sure you are not here with a bias for Apple?



    Yes Apple did admit their were about 2% of phones that suffered from 3G problems. I wouldn't doubt their are likely some other bugs to work out. So to be fair their may be problems on both ends. One poster in the UK reported his iPhone received no 3G while other phones could because O2 does not yet have HSDPA in his area.



    Accusing Wired Magazine of being paid off by Apple because its results were favorable towards Apple without any evidence is far over the line of extremely biased conjecture.
  • Reply 17 of 114
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by VinzD View Post


    I was surprised to get no more than 500-600 Kbps in France, with the Orange France 3G+ network.



    I'm in the US and I have heard so much about the US cellular market being so far behind "the rest of the World" or "behind Europe", yet this only seems to be true for a handful of countries. While many have skipped EDGE completely their 3G speeds don't seem to be very fast. Even some UK O2 customers were only getting HSDPA speeds slower than my EDGE speeds after the iPhone was released there last year.



    I'm not saying that AT&T has its 3G act together, but the info we get doesn't seem to meld well many of the blanket statements about non-US carriers.



    Quote:

    In order to limit the growing dismail, Orange promised that from September 15th, they will up teh data rate up to 1 Mbps, which is still by the way well below the 14,4 Mbps theoritical rate the 3G+ (or HSPDA) could achieve on the French carrier network.



    Maybe I should have stayed with the Edge iPhone.



    You are much better off with 3G even if it is only 384kbps. I'd suspect that is about 2x your EDGE speed and with less latency.



    The HSDPA radios in the iPhone are only capable of 7.2Mbps, and I have not seen a WiFi speed that is faster than about 3.5Mbps, and WiFi has the least latency of the three. Are their any cellphones that are currently sporting a 14.4Mbps radio?



    Quote:

    PS : to the credit of Orange, they did not raise the subscription plans : same price for 3G and Edge.



    What is the data price? The iPhone's $20/month fee was well below the other unlimited/unlimited plans at the time which averaged around $40-$45/month. I had hoped that the mandatory data package would help keep it cheaper than other phones but I was wrong. Still, I don't think $30/month is too much.
  • Reply 18 of 114
    sapporobabysapporobaby Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    Yes Apple did admit their were about 2% of phones that suffered from 3G problems. I wouldn't doubt their are likely some other bugs to work out. So to be fair their may be problems on both ends. One poster in the UK reported his iPhone received no 3G while other phones could because O2 does not yet have HSDPA in his area.



    Accusing Wired Magazine of being paid off by Apple because its results were favorable towards Apple without any evidence is far over the line of extremely biased conjecture.



    I think that Apple/AT&T are in blame dispersal mode with a little Infineon sprinkled in for ever flavor. Apple would hate a recall and Infineon knows that the crap about their chips being in other phones and working ok is bull. While the chips might be working ok in other phones, these phones are not under the performance burden the iPhone is saddled with nor does it have to do as much. So the Infineon story is just that, a story. I still think Apple could have caught most of these problems with better testing. They took a chip, dropped it in and it was blessed ready to rock and roll.



    Hopefully they can software fix it, but some of my Nokia and SE friends think that the chip is not functioning properly, not bad, just not functioning properly and that this could have been found out in testing. One thing for sure, Apple ain't saying, AT&T won't either. We will find out about the second person on the grassy knoll before either of these two spill the beans.
  • Reply 19 of 114
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CREB View Post


    Waaaaaaaaaay before the 3G iphone was even hinted at and rumors were floating around about how great 3G was going to be I was saying how AT&T's 3G sucks AND how AT&T guarantees none of its speed rates. Hmmmmmm.



    1) I'm guessing you are exaggerating a bit because a 3G iPhone was hinted at before the original iPhone was even showcased. I think Kevin Rose even predicted an CDMA/EV-DO iPhone. If you were saying it back then, or even 6 months ago you have been correct as AT&T didn't have much of a setup. From my experience I'd say their network is pretty decent (~1Mbps), but could be a lot better. I expect that it will continue to get better.



    2) Does any cellular carrier guarantee their bandwidth speeds? I don't see how they could.



    PS: Why isn't anyone posting their speeds?
  • Reply 20 of 114
    hzchzc Posts: 63member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Archipellago View Post


    2/ I can have 2 different handsets on the same network, 5 yards apart. The iPhone will have no service and the other one will have 3 or 4 bars.!!



    Maybe you should try getting your iPhone replaced; it should still be under warranty. It could just be a lemon ... and not an Apple



    I have 5 full bars just about all the time with Rogers, except when I'm travelling from one major city to another in which case I'm somewhere out in the boonies, then I have EDGE.
Sign In or Register to comment.