iPhones Overload AT&T, Angering Customers [New York Times]
It's another chapter in the classic story of Ma Bell over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to their network. The New York Times has profiled the trouble that U.S. iPhone users face sharing the limited bandwidth of AT&T's wireless network, the iPhone's exclusive carrier in the United States.
Due to the iPhone's popularity - there are around 9 million users in the U.S. - AT&T's wireless network is not able to fully support the bandwidth required by their iPhone customers. According to the article, many iPhone users are left with "dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and glacial download speeds." Even though the iPhone is a great device, articles like this one can't be inspiring confidence among smartphone buyers looking at making a switch to the iPhone and AT&T's network.
The network congestion problems are worse for customers in urban areas, where there are larger concentrations of iPhone users accessing the same network bandwidth. This article includes reference to the South by Southwest conference in March of this year in Austin, Texas, where a large number of iPhone equipped conference goers managed to slow the AT&T cellular network in Austin nearly to a stop.
AT&T's deal with Apple to be the exclusive iPhone carrier expires at the end of this year, and if Apple opts to offer the phone to other providers, it will allow frustrated AT&T customers to find another, less congested network to handle their data needs.