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?