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iPhone Straining AT&T Network

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the got-an-app-for-that dept.

Cellphones 551

dangle writes "More than 20 million other smartphone users are on the AT&T network, but other phones do not drain the network the way the nine million iPhone users do. Because the average iPhone owner can use 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user, dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds are the result as AT&T's cellular network strains to meet the demand. AT&T says that the majority of the nearly $18 billion it will spend this year on its networks will be diverted into upgrades and expansions to meet the surging demands on the 3G network."

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551 comments

slow data (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297715)

I would have had the first post, but I'm browsing from my iPhone.

Re:slow data (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298119)

Everyone else must be posting from their iPhone too.

Re:slow data (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298233)

I'm curious, what in what parts of the country are ATT customers experiencing dropped calls, slow internet times, etc?

I've just recently switched to ATT to get the iPhone 3gs.

I'd been with Sprint since I ever had my first phone ever back in about 1999-2000 or so). Post Katrina, my Sprint phone just was having all kinds of signal problems, etc. I live in New Orleans, and attributed that maybe to still having some tower problems. I had a friend with an iPhone let me see it, and test to make sure I had signal at my house (which was iffy at best with Sprint), and it was great.

I don't have a land line, and depend on my cell phone. I gotta say, I was a bit hesitant due to all the badmouthing of ATT here and on other forums, but, I must say, in my short time as a customer of theirs, I've satisfied. I've yet to run into a situation where I had low signal when I wanted to make a call. I've not had a dropped call that I can recall, and so far, the internet connectivity is been very satisfactory.

So, how about a poll...if you have ATT problems like the article mentioned, tell what part of the country you are in, and what you problem is. Is this more of a regional thing? Is it bad in the NE of the US? The west?

Can you hear me now?

:)

Re:slow data (2, Informative)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298299)

Upstate NY is horrible for AT&T. I know many people who have switched from AT&T to Verizon (whose coverage is much better here). It all depends on where you are though: city coverage vs rural coverage, which region of the country you are in, even which city. Every provider has areas where they are stronger and weaker than the competition.

Re:slow data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298357)

I'm actually experiencing terrible broadband rates with my home service, and I wonder if the two are related. I'm paying for (up to) 3.0 Mbps, but I get 1 Mbps or less at all times of the day, often with 100-400ms ping times and 13-28% packet loss. In the process of switching to cable now...

And I thought... (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297723)

All this time, I thought the iPhone was just an overhyped, overpriced smartphone that explodes. Now I see that, incredibly, it is doing some good: a major cell phone company is actually upgrading its network, after all these years of the US falling behind other parts of the world!

Re:And I thought... (5, Interesting)

n1ckml007 (683046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297731)

That's a good point. I have noticed this... Pandora streams fine on the '1G' network in the morning, come early evening and it will not steam smoothly at all. Very annoying, and there isn't even 3G where I live!

Re:And I thought... (5, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297919)

Heh, i made the mistake of taking my iPhone on roaming mode through Europe. I knew it was going to cost me SOME... but I got an $875 bill for four weeks - and that was making about 10 calls. The rest.... internet usage.

Suggestion to anyone who is travelling overseas with a phone on roaming mode. Turn off ALL internet access. It will save you hundreds!

Re:And I thought... (5, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297973)

Suggestion to anyone who is travelling overseas with a phone on roaming mode. Turn off ALL internet access. It will save you hundreds!

Just limit yourself to wi-fi access. There have been enough horror stories about huge data roaming bills, but it sounds like the message still hasn't been passed on to everyone.

Re:And I thought... (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298029)

I jsut did emails a few times and google maps here and there when lost :(

It's not like I was surfing youtube lol.

Re:And I thought... (4, Informative)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298385)

AT&T Roaming Info [att.com]:

"Data usage pay-per-use rate is $.0195/KB , except in Canada where rate is $.015/KB."

2 cents/KB. That's $20 a MB!! Emails a few times and google maps here and there adds up to a few MB quickly.

As others have noted, there have been plenty of data-roaming horror stories, but I guess it still hasn't occurred to everyone to look this stuff up before traveling. My wife and I went to Scandanavia earlier this year, and we made sure to turn off data roaming and only used wifi when it was available. We also used occasional text messages to communicate with one another, rather than calls. $0.50/text, but still cheaper than calling.

Re:And I thought... (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298049)

Also, it was eastern Europe. Not too many wifi spots there unless you happen to be staying in a very fancy hotel I found (and I didn't stay in those heh).

Re:And I thought... (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297739)

Indeed! God forbid AT&T actually have to upgrade their network. What has this world come to?!

Re:And I thought... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298077)

Oh, but it's much worse! Customers are PAYING them to do it. Via exclusive, multi-year contracts, no less. Next customers will be expecting the kind of service that goes with the money they are paying for it. It's complete insanity! When will it end??

Do the math: if an iPhone service plan is about $60/month (is that right?), that's about $720 a year * 9 million iPhone users clogging AT&T's network = ONLY $6.48 billion dollars a year of revenue, and that revenue is only locked in for 2 years. Compared to AT&T's $18 billion investment this year, that's peanuts! Obviously, the numbers look pretty grim for AT&T. I guess they're hoping people might exceed their data plans, that a few other phones might use the same network, that cell phone use might increase, or that they'll get money from other companies using their network -- it's all a risky investment, for sure.

When will they bring back the days when the poor old phone companies could just sit peacefully on their in-place infrastructure and do the bare minimum of maintenance necessary to keep it going while they milked their customers for whatever price a monopoly would sustain? They ought to make a law against this sort of madness, but you know our politicians -- always trying to make things more difficult by withholding taxpayer dollars from corporations struggling to make an honest buck. It's not like AT&T is running a charity or something.

Re:And I thought... (1)

ChemGeek4501 (1044544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298227)

Indeed! God forbid AT&T actually have to upgrade their network. What has this world come to?!

I'm just happy that AT&T is going to drop some cash and do something about it. Out here in the sticks, I have nearly zero coverage with AT&T but Virgin Mobile seems to get a great signal. Sticking with AT&T because I generally need more coverage than the other companies give, but still - at home it sucks. AT&T - More bars - except where you're at right now. Chemgeek

Re:And I thought... (5, Insightful)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297753)

they'll pass the invoice to the costumer, don't worry with that.

Yes, they'll have a good network, but the price will be twice what you could expect in other country for a contract, with the 3 years signup, and all the bullshit they can include to milk their customers.

Re:And I thought... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297847)

Worse [virginmobile.com.au] than [optus.com.au] these? [telstra.com.au]

Re:And I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298211)

Considering our current rates are over $10/MB here in the states for paygo plans, no.

Re:And I thought... (5, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297857)

Let them. All current customers can quite fairly state "Change in contract terms, AT&T? That's great! No, I don't accept, and it's good that there's this lovely clause about early termination without penalty. Thanks for giving me this lovely iPhone. I'll be sure to get it jailbroken and on a network which isn't a complete pig."

Thanks to all those who sacrificed their hard-earned for this to be made possible, though!

Disclaimer: I'm English. Written from the perspective of a USian, apologies if I've mis(correctly)spelled some words.

Re:And I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298009)

You mean you're British? Then write in British English; stick up for your nation you lily-livered miscreant.

Re:And I thought... (2, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298321)

You mean you're British? Then write in British English; stick up for your nation you lily-livered miscreant.

From Wikipedia: "The English (from Old English: Englisc) are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English."

Re:And I thought... (5, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298111)

You're still quite accurate. Anyone locked with ATT is about to get their chance to jump out, almost any month as long as you realize that clause and take advantage of it.

Re:And I thought... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298361)

Thanks for giving me this lovely iPhone.

Giving you? How much did you pay for it, again?

Now sure, every other contract phone on the market will give you a phone for free. But I didn't think that breaking the contract meant you get a free phone out of the bargain?

Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297797)

Don't get angry just because you can't afford one! Now, get back down into your basement writing shitty bash scripts for $30k/year.

Re:Hey! (1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297953)

You're right. I can't afford a $900 per month cell phone bill.

Although I make considerably more than $30K.

Re:And I thought... (4, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297863)

Who wants to bet they'll get the system back to normal, stop there, and still advertise their network is "even better" as opposed to "merely adequate after mismanagement". Reliable service should be restored, but I won't expect improved service.

Re:And I thought... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297887)

Yeah, every one of the 20 million iPhone users on the planet are just idiots. If only they had consulted you before making the boneheaded move of purchasing the device they wanted... Then they would've been much better off than they are now, with their overhyped, overpriced iPhone that does nothing but explode.

It's so easy always being right.

Re:And I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298097)

Defensive much?

Re:And I thought... (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298173)

Yeah, every one of the 6 billion people without iPhones on the planet are just idiots. If only they had consulted you before making the boneheaded move of not purchasing such a wonderful device...

Or perhaps argumentum ad populum is just as invalid as it's ever been.

Good (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297729)

The iPhone users pay an ungodly sum for the privilege. The least AT&T can do is make the network adequate for the purpose.

Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297751)

We get so accustomed to bad customer service and lousy throughput and high prices that it doesn't even dawn on us that the problem isn't the usage patterns of iPhone users but rather the consistently half-assed network implementations by American MOs.

As more and more technology floats up into the Cloud, we are going to need more bandwidth to access it from anywhere. If the MOs can't keep up and implement a network that will support the kind of massive usage that is currently envisioned, there will be a massive breakdown akin to what AT&T is experiencing now.

Don't blame the vehicles for bad roads. Blame it on the DOT.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (5, Insightful)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297841)

It is 100% Apple's fault for putting AT&T in a position where they don't have to compete with other carriers for iPhone business. If you were able to switch to Verizon or another carrier, you can bet AT&T would have upgraded their network a long time ago. AT&T is doing exactly as much as they have to.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (3, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298145)

Bollocks. If a network operator agrees to terms with Apple offering them a deal they believe they can't beat by distrobuting the iPhone through multiple networks then Apple made the right call. I don't have or want an iPhone and Apple get away with murder without being called on it, but this isn't their fault.

Besides which how are you going to 'switch' networks? Pay off the remaining x months to AT&T and then get a new contract elsewhere?

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298225)

Agreed! This is ALL apples fault for ONLY "allowing" at&t to sell it. I've heard on hacking boards where people jail break their iPhones to work on other networks, and the data speed is a LOT faster. If apple would get its head out of its butt and and allow any carrier to sell the iPhone, then perhaps the deathstar would upgrade their stupid network. I have an HTC Touch Pro, and I've benchmarked at&t's speed at different times of the day. During "business" hours, it slows to a crawl. Early morning (5-6am) it's not to bad, but, after 8am, it starts to slow to a crawl. If it wasn't for wi-fi hotspots, I wouldn't even bother.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298331)

Apple had to weigh the profit of two choices. Lets say T is the total cost of the phone, and P is the number of people who bought it. Apple sold the phone to AT&T for T + X, where X is some additional cost. On the other hand, they could have released it to everyone, and could have gained Y customers. So, some executive looked at the data, and decided (T+X)P > (P+Y)T and thats why its AT&T exclusive.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (1)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298333)

I want you, and those who modded you +5 Insightful, to give this a little more critical thinking:

"It is 100% Apple's fault for putting AT&T in a position where they don't have to compete with other carriers for iPhone business". Apple doesn't care who uses the phone, or on what network. Their business is not to sell bandwidth -- it's to sell phones (among other things). AT&T is the half of this venture who insisted on lock-in. Why would Apple segment their potential customer base by using only one carrier, unless they believed it to be of higher profit value to do otherwise?

The rest of your argument is mostly correct. AT&T won't upgrade unless they feel a need to. Just like every other business.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297911)

I am not sure we can only blame AT&T on this one. I think the U.S. in general is going to be in for a general bandwidth shortage fairly soon. There is so much of the rural U.S. that doesn't even have high-speed Internet available yet. If we bring those people online that in itself will destroy our capacity. It's really sad the lack of work that has gone into our digital networks in the U.S., especially when compared to what has happened in Asia.

Re:Lack of bandwidth is not Apple's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298371)

I blame the parents....... or the parrots....... which is it?

About time! (5, Interesting)

wmelnick (411371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297763)

It's about time AT&T put some money into the network. The coverage and the dropped calls suck. I can't wait for the 2 year contract to be up. Seriously, it was only a few years ago that the US had the best networks around and was on the cutting edge with cell phones. But we are seriously lagging now. AT&T wanted the iPhone but thought they would be able to grab it without infrastructure upgrades Be careful AT&T - no good deed goes unpunished!

Re:About time! (4, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297787)

It's about time AT&T put some money into the network. The coverage and the dropped calls suck. I can't wait for the 2 year contract to be up. Seriously, it was only a few years ago that the US had the best networks around and was on the cutting edge with cell phones.

I honestly can't remember a time when the USA came even close to Poland's or Germany's mobile networks. I don't think the USA even came to close to a 90% coverage like many other countries either.

Re:About time! (4, Informative)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297951)

That's because Germany and Poland only need about one Cell-Phone-Tower each to provide coverage to the entire country.

Seriously, Germany is smaller than Montana and has almost 100x the population.

Re:About time! (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297977)

Germany and Poland also doesn't have very remote locations either.

Both countries have been heavily settled for thousands of years.

Some of their cities are celebrating 1000 year birthdays.

Re:About time! (0, Troll)

Splab (574204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298031)

So you are saying they have been using mobile networks for 1000 of years?

Re:About time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298109)

Yes, but they used to be called "pigeons". And you could only call home.

Re:About time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298137)

No, just that fucktards like you have been around for a long time.

Please go take a class on reading comprehension.

Re:About time! (4, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297873)

I don't get this whole "Dropped Calls" thing - apart from when the network is totally overwhelmed, such as New Year, I've never had a call disconnect for any reason other than lack of signal (Usually moving into an elevator or a tunnel) in the UK.

Re:About time! (4, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298093)

I'm an AT&T customer in the US, and I don't get it either. I live in a rural area, so I do get the occasional dropped call if I'm driving on a rural road and get out of range of a tower. But that has nothing to do with network load, it means I'd like to see AT&T put in more towers.

I've had a couple of calls fail to complete (I dial the number, the phone pauses trying to get a free line, and I get a "your call cannot be completed" or "call failed" message). I'd say that's happened to me twice in the 9 months I've had my phone. That's probably an indication that my local tower is overwhelmed. But I've never lost a call in progress except drops that can easily be explained by lack of signal coverage.

Re:About time! (2, Informative)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297875)

I've not really had any problems with AT&T. Can't remember my last dropped call. And I live in a busy area.

Re:About time! (2, Insightful)

bdenton42 (1313735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298003)

In a busy area you have several cell towers to choose from. In a sparsely populated area you're just hosed if your one available tower gets overloaded.

Re:About time! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298243)

I've had problems in emerging areas that were once rural
but were in the process of urbanizing (IOW SUBURBS). Although
I have also had similar problems with other utilities at
the same time. So it's not just a phone thing. The same goes
for areas that are relatively remote. These sparsely populated
farm or desert areas don't have cell service but don't have
much of anything else either.

        If you want to you can heavily skew results to favor one
"test subject" or the other.

Re:About time! (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298027)

enjoy CDMA and it's no voice and data at the same time. i carry a Sprint BB Curve as well an iPhone 3GS and my iphone can talk and do data or email at the same time. on my Curve if you talk you can't even send an email or surf the internet. Read about it somewhere and ran my own test where i called my phones from the other phone.

Re:About time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298285)

Ooh multitasking on the iPhone. I thought that was impossible

Re:About time! (0, Flamebait)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298041)

for all it's problems i still prefer my iphone over my blackberry. most times my BB gets thrown in my bag or just sits around the whole weekend while i use my iphone every day

Take pre-emptive action (4, Interesting)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297783)

This should be a useful exercise just for the sheer entertainment:
1) create SETI-On-iPhone app which constantly fetches/uploads data
2) convince large quantities of people to continually run app
3) crash AT&T network
4) ?????
5) Profit

Corollary: send a mirror copy of all data to fbi.gov. See if we can cause two incidents at the same time.

Not all the iPhone (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297789)

If it's all the iPhone's fault why was service with AT&T crap before the iPhone came out? It's easy to point a finger but the truth is the service had needed upgrades for many years. One of the biggest things holding back iPhones IS that AT&T carrier. It's the primary reason I never got an iPhone.

fair price for bandwidth (4, Insightful)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297801)

wouldn't it be nice if network operators charged a fair price for Used bandwidth rather than taking $$$ for Jesus-phone "all-inclusive" deals. In suppose all the want is, err, as mucg of our money as they can get, and that's the way they get it. But if their price model would encourage thrifty bandwidth use by iUsers and iAppcoders, that would make it interesting for me, maybe getting a smartphone (more probably G than i) for less than a £35 contract here in the UK.

Re:fair price for bandwidth (4, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297859)

check the price of the BB Tour on Verizon. it's more than the iphone per month

No, it wouldn't (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298021)

When a subsidized cell phone is included in everyone's phone contract, nobody wants to expend much effort to steal a $45 Blackberry. When the same phone is $400 retail with a pawn value of $150, thieves will be MUCH more interested. With its high price, the iPhone puts this strategy at risk. Even so, it would be even worse ($800-$900) unsubsidized, and a HUGE target for theft.

I wish I had an iPhone, but instead I only use phones that are almost entirely subsidized. I have never lost one, and nobody breaks into my car even if I inadvertently leave the phone in plain sight.

Besides, here in the US, AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone. Not even God can make a phone good enough to compensate for AT&T.

Re:fair price for bandwidth (2, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298135)

As another poster mentioned, it's mainly the price of the handset that you're paying, not the bandwidth.

You can get "unlimited" (subject to all kinds of crap, but as good as you'll get from anyone else) data and messaging for £15/month - only comes with 75 minutes of voice, but you can always use Skype. That'll even get you a reasonably capable Nokia smartphone bundled in.

It's only if you want an expensive Android or Apple handset that it pushes the price up into the £30+ range; you still get the same pseudo-unlimited bandwidth that you would in the £15 contract.

Re:fair price for bandwidth (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298353)

I'm fine with a low-data contract and a Cloud wifi subscription. I'm never more than 100m away from a Starbucks / McDonalds, and I can easily get reception outside of the premises without indulging in their chod produce.

In fact, if I can't get access to a Cloud / OpenZone access point, I'm probably in the peat bogs on Kinder Scout, and don't really need to check my email.

An interesting observation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297813)

This problem does not exist in the networks of 3G carriers anywhere else in the world; not in europe, not in asia; only with the US carriers.

But "here", in the US, people are very quick to blame the iPhone for this "problem", and they are quick to blame Apple as a company.

Ah, good old US telcos.. (1)

NeuralAbyss (12335) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297827)

Ever notice the 3G networks around the other parts of the world haven't needed to bitch and moan about data usage of smartphones?

About time they were prompted into investing some of the profits into the network, not into shareholders' collective pockets.

Re:Ah, good old US telcos.. (1, Informative)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298151)

Ever notice the 3G networks around the other parts of the world haven't needed to bitch and moan about data usage of smartphones?

Hate to tell you this, but that's because many parts of the world charge their users per megabyte they download. Changes the way people approach usage when they're going be charged an extra 25c/Mb (at a minimum) [telstra.com.au] if they go over a certain (minuscule) amount.

Throttle them... (0, Troll)

bigtoque (1461269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297831)

This small minority of iPhone users is destroying the network for the rest of us.

AT&T should use some traffic shaping techniques to throttle the speed for anyone using an iPhone, because anything consuming this much bandwidth is no doubt due to illegal filesharing.

Hell they should take a page out of Apples own book and "reject" the iPhone from the AT&T network :p

Re:Throttle them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298019)

You got me - I only use my iPhone and other smartphones to "sling warez" for insane traffic costs. There's no fooling you!

Re:Throttle them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298035)

You don't think the iPhone users are PAYING for the service?? Trust me, they are paying their fair share so "throttling" them is an asinine move.

Re:Throttle them... (1)

caution live frogs (1196367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298185)

No, they aren't. I have a Nokia smartphone on AT&T. I pay the same per month for data access as an iPhone user. Yet my phone (by my own usage estimates, and by the NYT article claims) uses 10x less resources than the iPhone. So why am I not paying 10x less for net access?

I still get the added benefit of dropping almost every single goddamned call I have made or received since the iPhone 3G model came out earlier this year - that was the start of my problems with AT&T. Before that I had an occasional drop but now it's a miracle if my wife or I get through a 5 minute conversation without a dropped call. We live in a large metro area, and according to the AT&T service folks we have no less than 4 towers within close range of us. Our service remains unacceptable despite this.

The most painful part is that we dropped landline service 6-7 years ago to get AT&T off our backs. Then they went and bought our wireless carrier. Thanks, AT&T.

Wondering here, now that the NYT has gotten the company to admit that the iPhone is causing so many problems for everyone on the service, how long before a class action suit is filed? I certainly would like to be compensated for the absolute shit service I am currently relieving - it's far less than the service I am actually paying for.

Text messages (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297885)

Maybe if they stopped pricing text at thousands of dollars per megabyte it would free up enough voice traffic that this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Text messages (4, Informative)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298319)

SMS uses space in the signal that was otherwise unused. It is a free bonus that the carriers charge for because they can. Not text messaging is the same as text messaging.

Re:Text messages (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298389)

Most iphone customers have the unlimited text plan, and the ones that dont still probably text anyway. Also, texting isnt a problem. Even when I get shitty voice coverage, texting is usually online and working.

Hypocritical isn't it ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29297893)

When the customers are paying over $ 30 per month just for the data plan and possibly more for other services, its hypocritical of ATT to say iphone users are clogging their network. Its about time ATT started upgrading the network.

Upgrade budget (5, Insightful)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297903)

AT&T says that the majority of the nearly $18 billion it will spend this year on its networks will be diverted into upgrades and expansions to meet the surging demands on the 3G network

Oh no! They're being forced to spend most of their network upgrade budget on upgrading their network! How will they possibly cope?

Re:Upgrade budget (3, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298183)

The thing is we gave the carriers $200B a long time ago for cheap broadband services decades ago so 18B sounds like a drop in the bucket (10% of the money they collectively stole) especially since there aren't that many major carriers anymore - we got 4 now - so they should at least invest $50B not counting the interest on that amount and the overcharging of the promised monthly fees by 3 or 4 times.

Small tidbit from TFA (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297909)

The average iPhone owner pays AT&T $2,000 during his two-year contract

Wow. I know I'm playing the eurotrash card here, but the high-end contracts on this side of the pond cost EUR 45/month (with JesusPhone). $2000 on average for two years and poor 3G performance... ouch!

/off to buy ATT stock, extortion now being legal

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297993)

on our side of the pond we have cities with more cell towers than your entire country and we want coverage in every little corner in the US even if no one lives for miles around

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (2, Insightful)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298123)

on our side of the pond we have cities with more cell towers than your entire country and we want coverage in every little corner in the US even if no one lives for miles around

That's funny because here in Sweden we are in the process of upgrading to the mobile network to 150Mb/s service in the metro areas and 80Mb/s everywhere else across the country. That's in a country the size of California with a population of 9 million people. What's your excuse?

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298365)

Which city are you talking about and which country are you comparing it to?

Yes, I'm fairly certain that New York City has more cell towers than a place like Monaco or Liechtenstein, but I'm curious what you were referring to.

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (2, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298057)

45/month? That's 1080 Euros in the same time period, which is 1,546.91 USD (according to XE.com today). So, actually, we're not paying that much less than the US. Admittedly that's "high-end" but the US is a helluva lot bigger than any particular EU country and we'd end up paying roaming on top of that if we change countries. Also, some of that $2000 is likely to be things like roaming charges etc. anyway.

So, ern... not that big a shock, really. Though why *anyone* would ever want to pay that amount of money for a damn phone, I have no idea.

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (1)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298127)

Roaming charges only occur when traveling outside of the US, and not enough iPhone users who also aren't already aware of the widely-known cost of roaming with an AT&T account travel outside the US. I wouldn't call it "likely" that the $2000 over 2 years would be roaming charges.

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298257)

No, but it would account for quite a bit of the difference.

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (1)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298379)

I seriously doubt it happens enough to make a difference, compared to the regular $90 or more (depending on txt options) a month an iPhone user pays.

Re:Small tidbit from TFA (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298193)

Your 45 EUR a month comes out to 1,080 EUR for two years, or $1,544.72. Congratulations, you pay 75% what we pay.

On the other hand, you also get to pay matching numerical amounts for much of your electronics, have paid double what we pay for gas for years, and of course have to deal with smug pricks such as yourself on a daily basis.

(Jesus fuck Slashdot if we can't enter HTML entities could you at least accept Unicode? It's pretty Goddamn easy to avoid accepting control characters; it's called Character Categories, they built it into the fucking standard. Ugh.)

Easy solution (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297915)

Throttle their connection up their asses!!

Not exactly the prettiest or politically correct solution, but that's the most likely solution short term.

That is the sound of one man clapping... (1)

fineghal (989689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29297933)

I believe I speak for everyone when I say "Boo f'ing hoo." Heaven forbid a cellular company look towards its longterm growth and not short-run returns.

Oh please! (1)

PontifexMaximus (181529) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298007)

Do ANY of you really believe that? $18 BILLION? I would trust what ATT says any farther than I can throw them. Their network is crap. Their customer service is crap. I'd be willing to bet even without all the damned iPhones their network would still suck. Wanna know why? Because THEY CAN. They (and every other American carrier) can and will spend as little as possible to make our experiences better because we here in America LET THEM. We don't shove the bastards in Washington out of office who ATT have bought. We don't rise up and smite the sons of bitches every time they jack up our rates and we get nothing in return.

Sadly, we deserve every bit of the shitty service and crappy experiences we get. Obviously not enough of us in America give a big enough crap to change it. So why bother crying about it you lazy bastards?

Compression? (5, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298051)

I'm happy to hear that AT&T is looking at upgrades. Personally, I have run into almost no issues, but my area is a pretty recent recipient of 3G. Internet browsing got pretty slow midsummer, but AT&T managed through the bulk of tourist season with decent service. Now that most of our state's guests are headed home as the weather starts to cool and school gets back in session, I'm sure the load on the network will decrease.

I'm curious, though. I know very little about Apple's infrastructure on the iPhone, but I know that most of my Internet access on the Blackberry goes through a central server (BES for companies or BIS for individuals) and that data gets compressed en route. The primary reason, of course, is so pages can load more quickly, but it also has a side effect of requiring less data be transferred, therefore less load on the network.

Opera's mobile browser operates on the same basic idea - the "preview" you get of each web page is loaded as a very small and low-res image, then when you click on a section for details you zoom in on that area and it loads more detail. But the entire web page is not loaded to your phone up front - Opera's server serves up the parts you are looking at right now.

Does Safari do this, or does it load the entire page in full detail up front so you can zoom in on the little bit you want to see? If it loads the whole page, Apple and AT&T might want to discuss some form of "preview load" and only load more detail as it is asked for. It'd probably cut data usage considerably and if the preview loads quickly it would even improve the user experience.

Re:Compression? (2, Informative)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298363)

Actually, Safari loads the page element by element, in its entirety. It will go through the HTML and load each section in order, i.e. It creates the background, then the text, then the pretty images, then the sidebars, then the ads. Generally you can stop it around 75% of the load and still get the full webpage.

supply and demand (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298075)

I thought making supply short for a high demand product was a good business tactic. If I were AT&T I would bitch about needing to increase supply too. But then, I've never been good about screwing over customers for a living.

Others will have this problem, too..... (4, Interesting)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298081)

....especially Verizon, whose big brother in the UK (Vodaphone) is making them tear up the CDMA network for GSM. In some respects, AT&T is better-positioned today, and the continuing revenue stream from iPhones (something ungodly percentage of their new customers are iPhone customers) will allow them to invest in upgrades.

T-Mobile still doesn't have 3G nearly anywhere, and even the EDGE capability is spotty in places.

Sprint's got a friend-of-Barack, which has allowed them to push forward with their WiMax network faster than Verizon's planned 4G data (VHF analog TV spectrum), but they, too, are going to switch to GSM from CDMA for the Sprint portions of the network. Whatever was Nextel is unchanged.

But none of those providers have any single thing that's generating new customers like AT&T, and some are still bleeding subscribers despite nifty stuff (looking at you, Sprint).

In my experience, AT&T has been at least as reliable for voice. The data hasn't been as reliable as my last provider; but I'd rather have fast data 90% of the time, than unusably slow data 98% of the time.

Buy the sevice - not the phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298099)

People, this is why you buy the service first and THEN pick a phone. You iPhone people did it backwards and now you're paying for it.

Shame on Apple for cutting that exclusivity deal with AT&T.

Oh, Blackberry is available on just about every carrier plan - they don't have an issue using other networks, so it's an Apple business screw up or they made a lot more money do it that way. Probably the latter.

They have been upgrading their network (3, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298105)

For ages now, but they keep adding towers to extend their coverage. The problem however is the backhaul, they have not been upgrading those, and while sure everyone will now have perfect tower signal, they still have crappy connections since the traffic is congested on the backhaul.

Exclusive iPhone contract... (1)

Jason69 (661789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298115)

AT&T brought this upon themselves. They HAD to have an exclusive contract to carry the iPhone and now it's time to pay the price. I find it very hard to give a flip about their strained network when if the iPhone load had been spread across multiple carriers this wouldn't have become an emergency issue for AT&T.

Shame on Apple... (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298263)

... if they didn't put a clause in their agreement with AT&T that if the consumer base for the product exceeded the capacity of AT&T to service with a certain level of quality, that they would be able to add a second or third carrier to the mix. Perhaps, the only reason that Apple doesn't add Verizon is because the stampede would exceed Apple's ability to provide the phones.

I fully expect to see, at the next iPhone event in June, an announcement that the phone will be available through all carriers that want to provide it.

Same old same old (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298305)

This is they typical telco story. Be it transatlantic phone calls way back in the satellite era "All outside lines are busy now, please try your call again later, beep!", be it "broadband", or cellular phone service. The telco business model is:

1. Establish a technology
2. Charge an arm and a leg for said technology
3. Oversubscribe said networks until they are practically useless, then blame the customer.

You know, for a company pulling in 12 BILLION dollars a year, AFTER tax, there really is no excuse. It's not like they're going to spend the 18 billion to "upgrade" all at once. And you can BET that the "new" network will allow them to sell even more subscribers and/or charge even more for some new "must have" technology.

Communications is a racket. Is it any wonder that Ma Bell was broken up, and yet her children have mostly eaten each other and are each as big or bigger than she was, in under 30 years? Yet this is the industry that cries poverty and "we can't afford it" when the idea of upgrading to a REAL (I mean Japanese or S Korean style) broadband network is put on the table. Of course not. They don't give a shit about providing service, they just care about their balance sheet and whatever other company they can swallow.

But I for one feel no pity or sorrow for AT&T, and the suckers who sign exclusive multi-year contracts with them.

Article Fail (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298347)

Its surprising how technically inept reporters are. They say that the amount of time Shazam takes to load is caused by the network. What? No, thats the phone. I have this app, and it boots up, then you record the song, then it uploads it.

Reporter fail.
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