Bandwidth-Guzzling iPhones Are Crushing AT&T's Cell Network

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Apple iPhone users (AAPL) use their phones like mini-computers, spending all day online.  The resulting demand for bandwidth is swamping AT&T’s already-loathed cell network, the NYT says.

Four important takeaways:

  • Performance issues will likely hasten the end of AT&T’s exclusive on the iPhone (which is scheduled to end next year anyway).  At this point, it would actually be in AT&T’s interest to spread the network demand around.
  • AT&T will have to spend a lot of money and rush to upgrade the network before its reputation gets any worse (a third of people who don’t buy iPhones don’t buy them because of AT&T)
  • This is GREAT news for the future of the mobile web: Now that the iPhone has created a compelling mobile online experience, mobile usage is finally exploding.  This is already leading to the growth of a whole new industry based on mobile apps and gadgets.
  • This is great news for the iPhone: If people are willing to put up with performance this lousy, it shows how much they love their iPhones.

Here’s the NYT…

Jenna Wortham, NYT: [T]he average iPhone owner can… use 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user.

“They don’t even realise how much data they’re using,” said Gene Munster, a senior securities analyst with Piper Jaffray.

The result is dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds as AT&T‘s cellular network strains to meet the demand. Another result is outraged customers.

mobile phone owners using other carriers may gloat now, but the problems of AT&T and the iPhone portend their future. Other networks could be stressed as well as more sophisticated phones encouraging such intense use become popular, analysts say.

Read the whole thing >

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