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Apple, AT&T share acrimonious relationship

updated 03:55 pm EDT, Mon July 19, 2010

Jobs regularly threatening to drop AT&T?

Both Apple and AT&T are to blame for the latter's network suffering under the weight of the iPhone, a Wired investigation suggests. Apple's part is said to stem largely from demanding unlimited Internet access for users, and being unwilling to bend on the matter, even though AT&T was unable to expand its network fast enough to accommodate the strain. Even though AT&T has asked to cooperate on fixing some problems, Apple has sometimes insisted that AT&T resolve them by itself.

Some notable impasses have included tethering, which Apple is said to have wanted incorporated into data plans while AT&T wanted to charge extra. AT&T ultimately won the argument. Apple is also claimed to have made the mistake of using Infineon radio receivers, which are common in European phones but not in American ones. US cell towers are spread further apart, and thus not able to compensate for problems a phone might have.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has reportedly been disappointed enough with AT&T to consider switching to Verizon several times. The major obstacles have been an exclusivity contract, and technology, since a team of Apple engineers -- including Scott Forstall -- is said to have visited Qualcomm in 2007, and learned that chip sizes would require a redesign to support the Verizon CDMA network. Apple is further said to have concluded that Verizon was not a much better option.

Qualcomm is, though, said to be working with Apple on developing a hybrid radio chipset, one which would support both AT&T and Verizon. When this might make it into a new iPhone is not mentioned. The Wall Street Journal has claimed that it could happen as soon as this fall, whereas Bloomberg has argued for January.

by MacNN Staff



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