“Pity poor AT&T. The wireless operator with exclusive rights to sell the iPhone in the U.S. is bashed incessantly for service that rarely lives up to the elegant promise of Apple’s sleek device. Now, when many consumers feel they should be receiving rebates, the company is getting lambasted for hinting it might take measures to rein in the heaviest iPhone users. Some customers even planned to crash the company’s wireless network on Dec. 18 in protest,” Peter Burrows and Olga Kharif report for BusinessWeek.
“Yet Ma Bell, for all her shortcomings, has a point. With the smartphone fast replacing the PC as the center of many consumers’ digital lives, changes in the way people use mobile computing are inevitable,” Burrows and Kharif report. “Analysts and other experts say wireless operators need to train American consumers that bandwidth isn’t unlimited. That won’t just be good for phone companies; it’ll be good for virtually all mobile phone users. Today, AT&T says 3% of iPhone users account for 40% of the traffic on its data network. The other 97% may get better, cheaper service if YouTube video and online radio addicts paid more for the network upgrades required to support their habits. ‘It’s not a question of if this changes, it’s a question of when,’ says analyst Charles S. Golvin of Forrester Research.”
Burrows and Kharif report, “In the three years since the iPhone’s debut, data traffic on AT&T’s network has soared 5,000%. De la Vega is certain it’s just the beginning. Tens of thousands of software developers are dreaming up applications to run on the iPhone and devices from Research In Motion, Motorola, and Nokia. Several apps already use unprecedented amounts of bandwidth: Ustream allows people (like actor Ashton Kutcher) to broadcast live video to millions of fans over the iPhone. ‘Other carriers are just getting a glimpse of what’s coming,’ says de la Vega.”
“AT&T, meanwhile, is racing to improve,” Burrows and Kharif report. “It’s upgrading software that should double the speed at which bits move from a phone to the nearest cell tower and digging trenches to add 100,000 fiber-optic lines to connect cell towers back to the Internet. Overall, the company is expected to invest $7.5 billion in its wireless network this year, says market research firm Ovum, slightly more than Verizon.”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]