Thursday, 25 February 2010

How smartphones are bogging down some wireless carriers

It's no secret that the iPhone has taxed AT&T's network in densely populated areas, especially New York and San Francisco. Reports of problems using iPhones at major tech conferences, like SXSWi, Macworld Expo, CES, and NAMM are not unusual. The iPhone's ease of use and focus on mobile media generally lead to higher data usage on average, but despite claims by AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, the amount of data being consumed is rarely the problem. The issue has to do with how modern smartphones—beginning with the iPhone—save power by disconnecting from the network whenever possible.

Even though AT&T has made improvements to its network over the last couple of years—including moving towers to an 850MHz spectrum that can more easily penetrate building walls, as well as upgrading to faster 7.2Mbps HSPA+ protocols—those improvements have done little to stem the tide of complaints from consumers in larger urban areas. Those users experience frequent dropped calls and an inability to make data connections, and in general they feel that service is spotty.

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