updated 12:45 pm EST, Mon December 14, 2009
Network performance underrated, reports say
The iPhone hardware may be to blame for American users' connection problems, not AT&T, says the senior VP for telecommunications research at Nielsen, Roger Entner. The executive claims that the device has problems with the chipset connecting it to cellular towers, hurting both voice and data reliability. Because the iPhone has a "nimbus of infallibility," says Entner, the public blames AT&T and not Apple.
AT&T is moreover accused of being unwilling to defend itself, as that would offend Apple and risk souring a profitable contract. Verizon may have taken advantage of this in a well-known ad campaign, suggesting that the iPhone is hampered by its association with AT&T. Verizon could become the next US iPhone carrier as soon as 2010.
Results from several testing firms are alleged to show that AT&T often has the superior network. Global Wireless Solutions -- which has AT&T as a client but not Verizon - says that the former company has 40 to 50 percent more data throughput than any of its rivals. Root Wireless, an independent entity, notes that in several metropolitan areas including New York, Dallas and San Francisco, AT&T has faster average download speeds and more frequent availability of 75 percent or better signal strength.
Telecommunications consultant Chetan Sharma observes that AT&T is coping relatively well given the jump in data on its network, which has risen 4,000 percent since the launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008. People are using as much data as they can, and AT&T's own mistake may simply have been failing to anticipate demand and upgrade towers as quickly as possible. The carrier has threatened to restrict data use as a coping mechanism.