Time to cut AT&T some slack? 3G data traffic up 5000% over the past 12 quarters due to iPhone

MacMall 96 Hour Apple Sale“According to AT&T CTO John Donovan, nationally, 3G data traffic on the company’s wireless network had risen nearly 5000 percent in the past 12 quarters,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD. “‘Today, we’re seeing unprecedented growth in mobile broadband traffic,’ Donovan said during his keynote at the Open Mobile Conference on Nov. 5. ‘This growth has required extensive rethinking of wireless networks as we know them, as well as significant advances in the supporting IP backbone and other infrastructure.'”

“A 5000 percent increase in 3G data traffic,” Paczkowski reports. “That’s an astonishing figure. Seems to me it’s entirely likely that any carrier that had been first with the iPhone — including catcalling rival Verizon — would have suffered similar network troubles to those that plague AT&T today.”

MacDailyNews Take: For the umpteenth time: Take those 15+ million U.S. iPhones off AT&T and plop them on Verizon and watch AT&T satisfaction soar (especially in metro areas) and Verizon come to a grinding halt. No carrier, including Verizon, is ready for 15+ million devices that are actually used for serious data consumption. Verizon’s network accommodates inferior devices that only sip data in comparison to iPhone due to their unusable web browsers (if they even have them) and generally indecipherable user interfaces which, only benefits the carrier as they get to sell phones on features that most people will never use. Verizon’s “3G” network doesn’t even allow users to talk while surfing the Web and/or emailing! The iPhone’s ease-of-use (snap a photo or even shoot a video and send it over AT&T’s network to wherever; robust, real Web Browsing; data-consuming apps which include streaming video over 3G, etc.) combined with the vast, rapidly-growing number of iPhones would cripple any carrier. If AT&T can’t get a handle on it, Apple would do well to reconsider their exclusive U.S. arrangement and spread the wealth – and the data consumption – to other carriers, as soon as (technically and legally) possible.

Paczkowski continues, “No other US carrier offers a super-smartphone that has sold as well as the iPhone, and which people use much like a laptop… So, really, any carrier that had been first to market with the iPhone would have seen its network overtaxed — especially after Apple launched the iPhone 3G and the iTunes App Store. Those events effectively upended traditional planning models for network capacity in a way that no one was prepared for.”

Paczkowski writes, “It will be interesting, then, to see how Verizon’s network holds up in comparison if and when it gets the iPhone.”

MacDailyNews Take: It would only be interesting if AT&T lost the iPhone deal all at once (won’t happen, as the contracts run over 24-month periods) and all iPhones were then quickly switched from AT&T to Verizon. Splitting the iPhone load wouldn’t test Verizon anywhere near the same way AT&T is being tested right now by having to carry the full brunt of 15+ million U.S. iPhones. Verizon has no right to catcall since the vast majority of their users can’t even find the Web browser, if it even exists, on the shitastic devices Verizon inflicts upon them.

Full article here.


  1. For the umpteenth time, Verizon is NOT getting the iPhone. This, and many other articles, make it clear that substantial iPhone sales into Verizon’s piss CDMA network would cause it to collapse faster than a house of cards.

    Verizon might have said no to Apple’s demands, but Apple wasn’t keen on CDMA to begin with Only ATT had what Apple wanted, size and GSM, and they were prepared to do anything to get the iPhone, WITHOUT EVEN SEEING IT.

    One more time: Verizon isn’t getting an iPhone of any kind until at least 2013 (and most likely not then either).

  2. So 3G stopped working on my iPhone the other day. After numerous resets I finally gave up, backed up the phone and set it back to factory settings.

    Still didn’t work. I was really annoyed because I use 3G often when I’m out and about.

    Finally I gave up. Last night I went to the Apple Store and showed it to one of the guys confident in my technical prowess that they wouldn’t be able to fix it either.

    Guy takes one look at the phone, dials 611, and the message plays…

    Your services has been disconnected. Please pay your bill immediately to get services restored.

    After paying my bill, my 3G came right back up!

    So embarrassing.

  3. Verzion would have been sooooo screwed. They could not upgrade there system since it is scheduled for replacement starting in a year or two. Plus, they would have to build out a GSM system from nothing.

    Verizon would have collapsed under the strain or delayed the GSM to shore up the CDMA system.

    15 million iPhones on Verzion- it would go nuclear in days.


  4. You MDN guys are pathetic. I’m a loyal reader and total Mac fanboy too, but even I always had to laugh at the blind faith with which you throw your support anything Apple says or does. Even though, yes, it’s usually awesome.

    But why in the hell are you such staunch defenders of AT&T;??? Yes, the iPhone is awesome, and is by far the best phone out there. No question.

    But you have got to be kidding me with the “how dare anyone attach AT&T;?!?!” bull****. It’s ridiculous. While yes, it’s certainly possible that other networks, even VZW would have the same issues, it doesn’t excuse the fact that AT&T;signed up for this and it’s their fault for not foreseeing and preparing for the surge in network traffic. It’s a joke at this point.

    Even with a fanboy, you guys lose what little credibility you still had with these ridiculous defenses of AT&T;. At least when you do it with Apple, that goes along with the whole reason the site exists.

  5. My 3g on AT&T;is awesome. Great Internet speeds and call reception here in dfw. Can’t remember the last time I dropped a call either.
    However for competions sake I would be happy to see the iPhone available on more than one carrier.

  6. @CS:

    Geez, wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

    Nobody is defending anybody. We’re all just able to understand what the problem is and that it was impossible for them (or anyone) to predict how much bandwidth the average iPhone user would use. Even if they doubled or tripled what normal smart phones used, it still wouldn’t have come close.

  7. @ CS
    ” .. ATT signed up for this and it’s their fault for not foreseeing and preparing for the surge in network traffic.”

    Don’t agree. I don’t think that anybody in the world foresaw the impact that the iPhone would have on mobile data usage. That’s why every carrier is desperately trying to duplicate the iPhone’s success. Even Steve Jobs said that the app store explosion was unlike anything he’s experienced in his career. Vast majority of those apps are being downloaded directly to the phone. Couple that with the millions of songs, web browsing and MMS and one can understand why ATT had no idea this was coming.

    That being said: ATT put some more freakin towers in Colorado already!!

  8. It’s astouding how MDN continues to apologize for this inept corporation.

    If ATT can’t handle these iPhone users then ATT never should’ve sold the iPhone in the first place. They knew the repercussions of exclusively selling millions of phones with a full web browser. They knew what Steve Jobs wanted to accomplish.

    But hey, let’s say they were caught off guard!

    So tell me, why didn’t they leave the iPhone at $399 and $499? That certainly would’ve stemmed the rising tide.

    Why did they subsidize the iPhone 3G to $199 and substantially increase sales when they knew they had a fledgling network that couldn’t handle them?

    Why was the iPhone 3G then dropped to $99, the outcome of which can only further exacerbate their network problems?

    Because ATT’s only concern is keeping up with Verizon rather than providing excellent service to their customers!!

    The idea that the network overload is due to such a wonderfully designed product might make for a good source of pride to MDN and us fanboys, but it’s inconsequential to the average iPhone user who either can’t get a signal or has just experienced a dropped call. Nobody cares how nice a pen may look if it doesn’t have any ink inside.

  9. The same reason you post your comment. The manner that will rise interest and comment so your “market share” of comment will rise.
    So, ATT has lower the price so they can get the high end of the market share in money each month. The more they have, the more profit, the more they can build out with the extra money.

    Even a simple 5 th grader can figure that out. They want customers and you want people to read and comment on your remarks. Duh!

    Now I now why Verzion has to lauch a campain in deperation as they lose all the money and get the droids like R2.

  10. OK, hate to be a geek, but just how much traffic is it? Quarter 2 2006 was normalized to 100, so it’s a 50x increase in traffic. What was the 3g map 3 years ago? Were they selling any 3g phones? If they only had 2 3G models, then I;m shocked it’s only 50x increase, it should have been more. Let’s see some numbers instead of one pretty chart and saying hey, we’re trying. If I lost one pound last year, and then lost ten pounds this year, I’ve lost 1000% more weight this year. Wahoo, where are the crispy creme donuts!! Without number, the article is trash.

  11. I support the moving of the iPhone to multiple networks. its not because AT&T;is all that bad (they have put up with the heat surprisingly well with respect to the fact that they were completely unprepared…

    What i really want to see is wireless carriers putting everything under “DATA” and charging a flat rate for a certain amount. Say, $30 for 250MB $50 for 500 MB and $75 for 1GB. then, put everything under this, so you can call and talk for as long as you want, unless you go over the limit. Finally, texting will also be near-free.

    It would take but ONE wireless carrier to do this with the iPhone, and virtually everyone would switch over, forcing the other carriers to do the same.

    This “race” to the bottom would be great, and would create a wireless world that would be versatile and affordable.

    THAT is why the iPhone needs to leave the hands of AT&T;. To create competition and lower prices, and possibly to start a mobile revolution.

  12. I was thinking, for a moment, that with the new Android on Verizon that we’d see how their network held up. Then I realized that Verizon won’t have 15 million Androids on their network anytime soon.

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