iPhone doesn't have 3G issues, probably

In Tuesday's IT Blogwatch, we wonder what's going on with iPhone 3G reception problems -- is it the phone, the network, or just Euro-envy? Not to mention more fun at the Large Hadron Collider...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Apple Inc.'s iPhone 3G offers "normal" reception, Swedish engineers who tested the smart phone said today, adding to the controversy over reports of dropped calls and slow surfing speeds.
The tests compared the iPhone 3G with the Sony Ericsson P1 and Nokia N73 handsets at the request of the city's largest daily newspaper, the Gteborgs-Posten,
by placing each in a Bluetest chamber and running a suite of signal tests. Bluetest's chambers, which resemble the small walk-in coolers found in restaurant kitchens, are used by antenna makers to test designs of cell phone, laptop and router antennas. The chambers duplicate real-world conditions, such as in an office or home, or on the street in an urban area, where there are multiple reflective surfaces.

The bottom line: The Sony Ericsson proved slightly better at receiving signals and the N73 edged the iPhone at transmitting signals.
Bluetest results

Brian X. Chen has more data:

Recently Wired.com asked iPhone 3G users all around the world to participate in a study, which involved testing their 3G speeds and entering their data on an interactive map. The purpose? To gain a general idea of how 3G was performing -- where it's best and where it's worst -- in light of widespread complaints about the handset's network performance. More than 2,600 people participated (wow!) and we've diligently cleaned up the data to present it to you here.
To speak very generally, the data overall shows that 3G is performing faster than EDGE (which is expected). In the best scenarios, 3G is up to seven times faster than EDGE; in worse scenarios, 3G performed just as slowly as EDGE; at worst, some users couldn't connect to 3G at all -- which isn't surprising since 3G towers are not yet ubiquitous.
In our view, this data is a strong indicator that performance of the mobile carrier's network is affecting the iPhone 3G more than the handset itself.

Nick Mediati mediates:

The iPhone 3G's reported data speed problems may have more to do with the network and less with the phone itself, according to two different studies.

The results of Wired's 3G data speed survey indicate that network speed varies depending on where you are. For example, Australia has the worst overall 3G performance, while Germany and The Netherlands are on the other end of the spectrum.
Meanwhile, a scientific test conduced in Sweden shows little difference in the performance between the iPhone 3G, a Sony Ericsson P1 and Nokia N73. However, it's important to note when considering conclusions from the Swedish group, it only tested the hardware. This leaves the door open for a software/firmware issue.

MG Siegler ventures forth:

For those still thinking Apple is going to have to recall the iPhone 3G over faulty chip issues hampering its connections, there are two reports today suggesting that will not happen ... While the report doesn’t claim to know why the carriers are having issues with the device, in the United States at least you can chalk part of it up to the still relativity weak 3G coverage depending on where you live. The survey also reveals that areas where there are a huge concentrations of iPhone 3Gs (like the San Francisco Bay Area), the 3G towers are likely getting slammed, resulting in slower connection speeds.

Apple would not doubt like AT&T to improve this, and as time goes on, they will.

Matt Buchanan wants those pesky kids off his lawn:

Germany and the Netherlands, which have a solid, mature 3G infrastructure, report the fastest 3G speeds—2Mbps on average. In the US the picture is not so peachy, confirming the steady flood of irate yupsters yapping over the last few weeks. [But] in major metro areas in the US, 3G performance is slow as balls.
Because AT&T's 3G equipment is mostly deployed on existing 2G towers which are spaced farther apart than 3G's range, when you get the to edge of a tower's coverage, you're going to get crappy performance.

Will Park has another theory:

We’re hearing that Orange, France’s official iPhone 3G carrier, has been artificially throttling 3G data speeds for iPhone 3G users. Our iPhone 3G-carrying counterparts in France have been reporting 3G data speeds of around 350Kbps to 450Kbps - fast and speedy, to be sure, but definitely nothing close to HSDPA speeds. iPhone 3G users on Orange should be seeing data speeds at least four times faster than what has been reported.

And, anecdotal reports are indicating that some customers are able to get Orange to unlock their device to take full advantage of Orange’s HSDPA capable network.

Charles Jade is green with envy: [You're fired -Ed.]

Users in Germany and The Netherlands once again made Americans envious. Not only do they have access to health care, prostitution and marijuana cafes, but they are averaging 2,000Kbps for downloads.
While iPhone 3G users in the US may now feel vindicated in their bitterness towards AT&T, the results of the survey raise new questions too. Like what the hell was that iPhone update that caused so many problems really for? Even if networks are to blame for speed issues, that does not necessarily mean there isn't a problem with the iPhone too.
There is something going on outside Apple's control. Not that it matters when it comes to people suing Apple. Still, if there is a network issue, at least in the US, AT&T will ultimately have to build its way out of it, and we can all rest assured that won't happen within the lifetime of our contracts.

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 22 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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