NY Times Blames iPhone Hardware for AT&T Network Problems

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A new article in the New York Times suggests that faulty iPhone hardware is the cause of network issues experienced on AT&T.

The article entitled, “AT&T Takes the Blame, Even for the iPhone’s Faults” by Randall Stross, notes that AT&T has performed worst according to customer feedback. It suggests that in reality AT&T is the best network but faulty iPhone hardware is causing a poor network experience.

Roger Entner, senior vice president for telecommunications research at Nielsen, said the iPhone’s “air interface,” the electronics in the phone that connect it to the cell towers, had shortcomings that “affect both voice and data.” He said that in the eyes of the consumer, “the iPhone has the nimbus of infallibility, ergo, it’s AT&T’s fault.” AT&T does not publicly defend itself because it will not criticize Apple under any circumstances, he said.

Global Wireless Solutions a third-party service that runs network tests for the major carriers has covered more than three million miles of roads this year, while running almost two million wireless data sessions and placing more than three million voice calls. Their testing results place AT&T well ahead of everyone the competition. “AT&T’s data throughput is 40 to 50 percent higher than the competition, including Verizon,” Mr. Carter said. AT&T is a client and Verizon is not, he added.

Root Wireless, a start-up that develops software to do continuous network tests, ran 4.7 million tests on smartphones for each of the four major carriers. In every market, AT&T had faster average download speeds and had signal strength of 75 percent or better more frequently than did Verizon. These tests were conducted on non Apple phones since the iPhone does not support backgrounding.

Stross concludes by saying that AT&T’s performance is all the more impressive considering it has seen a 4,000% increase in data traffic since the iPhone 3G was introduced in 2008. He then suggests that Apple and AT&T switch talent to improve the situation for both companies.

AT&T and Apple could both gain by swapping talent. Apple, send your marketing wizards to lend your partner a hand. It sorely needs help. AT&T, send some engineers to redesign the iPhone to make better use of the country’s fastest wireless network.

Stross’s report has already drawn criticism from the blogosphere. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber asks, “If it’s the iPhone’s fault, not AT&T’s, why aren’t iPhone users around the world having the same problems as those here in the U.S.?”

CultofMac’s Pete Mortensen says, “it cracks me up that the only person willing to come out and claim that there is a problem with the iPhone’s air interface, the part that talks with cell phone towers, is Roger Entner, an SVP of Nielsen, who doesn’t have a technical background. According to his blog, he has an MBA and a BA. So, unless you think that a marketing analyst knows more about phone engineering than, well, actual engineers, this is hardly a credible comment.”

What do you think? Is there any validity to this report? Could the iPhone hardware be a contributing factor in AT&Ts network problems?

[Daring Fireball] [CultofMac]

Via iclarified.com

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  • Chris Daniels

    I know that here in the UK on O2 my signal is often shit compared with non-iPhones on the same network. It drives me mad!

    I remember Reading a while back that there is/was a problem with the iPhone antenna and apple tried to fix it with an update.
    I think there is a hardware issue somewhere cos it just doesn’t make sense. I may call o2 tonight and ask about it.

  • Previous WM user

    I’ve been saying this since the first day I got my iPhone. I love my iPhone, but it’s not like I don’t know that it has a weakness, as evidenced by the first day i used it in my office and it dropped a couple of calls and failed to connect on a couple of others. I’d used a WM phone on the AT&T network for 5 years before I got my iPhone and never dropped a call or failed to connect. I keep my iPhone because it doesn’t happen frequently enough to cause me problems, but I’m aware that it could use some improvement in the phone radios.

    Dismiss the article in the Times all you want, but this isn’t just one company supporting AT&T as having a the strongest and best network, it’s multiple researchers making that claim. Mortensen may criticise Entner for not having an engineering background, but I’m pretty sure those employees at Neilsen that ARE doing the actual testing are engineers. Their findings are then forwarded to Entner who’s charged with presenting data to the public.