updated 02:25 pm EDT, Thu September 18, 2008
ATT on iPhone 3G Data Use
Early adoptees of the iPhone 3G have been using much less data on AT&T's network than expected since the device became available, the company's chief technical officer John Donovan noted at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia XVII conference today. The carrier had braced itself against a fivefold increase in traffic with the advent of the phone, which makes video and other data-intensive tasks more feasible, but has only seen a relatively mild threefold increase over the earlier EDGE version.
Donovan doesn't explain the below-estimate data use, though the connection issues that in many cases forced iPhones to drop calls or revert to EDGE data have already been widely attributed to discouraging data use outside of Wi-Fi.
The executive nonetheless says the iPhone 3G's data use is relatively high versus other phones and that high concentrations of iPhone owners in some areas has pushed AT&T to upgrade its cell towers and behind-the-scenes infrastructure to handle the added and anticipated data load. He downplays concerns that AT&T may have oversold for its network and instead says that any rapid improvements to capacity on the company's part have been self-imposed steps to anticipate demand.
A similar absence of pressure translates to the company's plans to introduce 4G to its network. The carrier says it only anticipates trialing the Long Term Evolution format sometime in 2010 and that actual service will come sometime later. The company will leave early adoption to other companies, Donovan says, alluding to Verizon's planned launch the same year.