Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's not AT&T's fault, it's the iPhone?

My gut finds this persuasive ...
Digital Domain - AT&T Takes the Fall for the iPhone’s Glitches -

... When I set about looking for independent data, however, to confirm the superior performance of Verizon’s network, I was astonished to discover that I had managed to get things exactly wrong. Despite the well-publicized problems in New York and San Francisco, AT&T seems to have the superior network nationwide.

And the iPhone itself may not be so great after all. Its design is contributing to performance problems.

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. AT&T and Apple both declined to comment on Mr. Entner’s assessments.

Neither AT&T nor Verizon was willing to reveal its internal data on performance. But Global Wireless Solutions, one of the third-party services that run network tests for the major carriers, shared some of its current findings. The service dispatches drivers across the country with phones and laptops equipped with data cards. They have 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, said Paul Carter, the president.

The results place AT&T’s data network not just on top, but well ahead of everyone else. “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.
Why do I find this persuasive, even though one of the sources gets AT&T money?
  1. We only hear my fellow iPhone users screaming about AT&T quality.
  2. Remember Apple's rivals saying Apple didn't have the engineering background to make a quality cell phone? I suspect this is what they were talking about. Apple did amazingly well, but perfection is not human.
  3. Quality and reliability are not Apple's top priority (most recent example: my 2 day old flickering, stuttering, $2K iMac i5). It's not in their DNA.
Mind you, I despise AT&T. I think they'll shaft their customers whenever they can get away with it. Apple is flawed, but they're still better than everybody else. It's just that this time, when it comes to phone service, I suspect Apple is at least as flawed as AT&T.

Update 12/13/09: If the iPhone does have technical limitations that cause connection issues, is this why AT&T has not allowed tethering?

Update 12/14/09: Two rebuttals from Gruber: One, Two. The second points to Pete Mortensen, who shows the form of the question changes the answers.

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