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The iPhones have created enormous problems for AT&T's data and voice networks. As few as 12 iPhones streaming video can reportedly swamp an AT&T tower's data broadcasting abilities.  (Source: Hot Cellular Phone)

AT&T has partnered with McDonalds, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble, thus far, to offer its customers free Wi-Fi, in hopes of reducing strain on its network. IPhone users, according to analysts consume five times as much data as BlackBerry or Windows Mobile users.  (Source: Valleywag)
Company looks to new partnership, such as a major one with McDonalds to ease the burden on its network

AT&T of late feels that it has been bullied and maligned.  First, it argues, Verizon attacked it on its geographic 3G coverage, which the company felt was inaccurate as its coverage by population was much better than the maps might indicate.  Second, the company received enormous flak when AT&T Mobility President Ralph de la Vega was asked at a business event on December 9 about what steps his company might take to control iPhone data usage. He responded with remarks that seemed to indicate that his company was planning to charge users who overused their "unlimited" plan.

Those remarks led to a planned data protest entitled "Operation Chokehold", which went down on Friday, December 18.  While the protest didn't seem to do too much to AT&T's network, it did convey the frustration of the company's subscribers.

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Mr. De la Vega now says that his remarks were misinterpreted and his company was never planning to impose higher fees.  He states, "There were no follow-up questions, so I figured everyone understood what I was saying. I guess I should have been more clear."

While many have speculated that AT&T will drop the $30-per-month unlimited data plan in lieu of a tiered pricing scheme, in order to ease its data troubles, Mr. De la Vega unequivocally denies this speculation, stating, "There are things people say I said that I didn't say. We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing."

Rather than a stick, he says AT&T will use a carrot approach to try to solve its data issues.  Namely, it is ramping up efforts to provide free Wi-Fi to iPhone subscribers through a series of partnerships.  Its hoping that when iPhone users switch from 3G to Wi-Fi regularly, the strain on the network will be lessened.

The move is essential to AT&T as Wi-Fi via wired broadband is much cheaper than 3G data transmission.  It is estimated that as few as 12 iPhones streaming video can swamp a single iPhone tower, leading to Apple suggesting that terrorists could use unlocked iPhones as a dangerous weapon to our nation's communications.

iPhone users use an estimated 60 percent of mobile web data, though they only have about a 24.7 percent smart phone market share (in a 36 million unit market) according to ComScore.  IPhone users pay on average $95-per-month for this usage, about twice what smart-phone subscribers on other networks pay.  However, the average iPhone user uses approximately five times the data of a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile user.

To prevent such network swamping, AT&T has announced a deal with fast food giant McDonalds to waive the $2.95 Wi-Fi charge for customers at the chain's 11,000 restaurants.  AT&T already had similar deals with the ubiquitous coffee-superchain Starbucks and the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble.

AT&T's voice network also has seen its issues.  In cities the carrier's hardware partners have reported sky-high dropped call rates.  The company cut capital expenditures this year from $20.3B USD in 2008 to an estimated $17B USD this year, leading many to criticize it for not investing enough in its network.  The company responds to these criticisms by arguing that its spending this year was simply more focused on trouble spots, such as San Francisco.  Mr. De la Vega comments that in San Francisco "our network has never performed better".

His company is also considering Femtocells -- personal, portable signal generators -- as a promising solution to the company's 3G voice and data problems.  Unfortunately, those cells are still not available and no concreted details have been provided on how they're priced.  It's refreshing to see that AT&T will not be punishing its customers for its shortcomings, but its management has their work cut out for them in terms of improving their network and keeping their customers from jumping ship to rival carriers.

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WiFi battery issues
By monitorjbl on 12/22/2009 3:48:57 PM , Rating: 4
I don't know about everyone else, but my iPhone devours battery when it's on wifi. I have a 3G and I can get maybe two days out of a charge if I don't call or use the web that much (I don't really ever use my phone for anything other than a mobile internet platform). If I switch on wifi though, it will drop to 12-18 hours with similar use.

Anyone else experience this?

RE: WiFi battery issues
By MPE on 12/22/2009 3:57:00 PM , Rating: 5
Just swap in your other battery....



RE: WiFi battery issues
By monstergroup on 12/22/2009 6:12:31 PM , Rating: 2
bravo...*clap, clap, clap*

RE: WiFi battery issues
By gigatron on 12/22/2009 8:13:42 PM , Rating: 1
You mean like a Mophie Juice Pack?

RE: WiFi battery issues
By hiscross on 12/22/09, Rating: -1
RE: WiFi battery issues
By monitorjbl on 12/22/2009 11:57:18 PM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't particularly want to carry around extra batteries with me on ANY smartphone. I know this is a lot to ask on the internet, but stop ripping on the iPhone for silly things. It has plenty of real issues to make fun of that don't make you look dumb.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By BSMonitor on 12/23/2009 9:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
Who the frak carries extra cell phone batteries around?!?

RE: WiFi battery issues
By CZroe on 12/23/2009 11:54:31 AM , Rating: 2
People who complain about WiFi draining the battery too fast but still desire the ability to use it.

Just because you didn't have a use for a second battery with other phones does not mean that the usage scenario compares. Things are changing.

Also, it's not just about havinbg the ability to carry around a second. It's about being able to replace a failing battery or even storing a charged spare just for an emergency. I can't tell you how many times an old spare battery that didn't hold much charge came in useful for me even with old dinky RAZR V3 phones that wearn't used for much other than talking. Even if it only has 15% of the capacity that a new battery has, that's 15% more run time when you *most need it.*

RE: WiFi battery issues
By DLeRium on 12/22/2009 4:01:07 PM , Rating: 5
this is a problem with ANY phone. Sure people can attack the iPhone, but having experienced Symbian phones, and HTC smartphones AND the iPhone 3GS, I can say that all phones will suffer like mad with wifi on. Plus Wifi is always scanning for networks.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By retrospooty on 12/22/2009 6:56:22 PM , Rating: 5
No, other phones have replaceable batteries... so users that use wifi can buy and extra one to swap, or several extra.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By boushidosan on 12/23/2009 1:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
yeah i was given an extra battery for my palm centro from an ex at&t user. . . I downclock the phone and it lasts me about a week with these two batteries and minimal brightness

RE: WiFi battery issues
By jhb116 on 12/22/2009 7:47:39 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed which is why you should switch it on while browsing in an area that you can get the wifi and then turn it off when you don't need it.

I know AT&T's network is bad, use to complain about Edge once upon a time - but is it so much worse than the other networks? I'm not sure I want the Iphone on my network if this is more a function of the Iphone's capability to gobble up network capacity?

RE: WiFi battery issues
By kame00 on 12/22/2009 4:37:35 PM , Rating: 2
You know that on the 3GS at least, Wi-Fi consumes less battery than 3G if actively transmitting data. In SF, I already appreciate the free attwifi hotspots around Starbucks.

Now, this doesn't mean that using Wi-Fi would extend battery life unless you are in airplane mode or at least 3G off. But you do get the speed that will get things done quicker so you can end your transmission.

On the other hand, since the Wi-Fi is fast, you tend to use it more. Then, you get short battery life.

I think we need a new battery measurement. Like kbh (kilo-byte hour) per charge or something like that. :)


RE: WiFi battery issues
By dagamer34 on 12/22/2009 6:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
However, you have to consider that using 3G for data, means that the WiFi chip is off. The 3G chip has to be on regardless in order to respond to voice calls.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By Bagom on 12/23/2009 12:14:27 AM , Rating: 2
You can turn off the 3G on the Iphone and you can still make calls. I am not sure if VM will come through since it is DL into the phone.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By Solandri on 12/23/2009 1:35:16 AM , Rating: 2
That's only true for CDMA networks. CDMA networks basically don't make a distinction between voice and data. It's all data. Consequently it was pretty easy to migrate them to 3G. A faster network just meant the phone and tower exchanged both data and voice packets faster.

GSM uses TDMA, which is prohibitively wasteful of bandwidth if you're trying to share a limited amount of bandwidth among a bunch of users. Basically every phone making a phone call to a tower gets an equal share of the tower's bandwidth regardless of whether or not they're using it. That's why AT&T and T-Mobile were so slow to get their networks up to 3G speed. They basically had to invent a whole new way to offer 3G speed data services, then install a second transmitter/receiver for it into their phones. A side-effect of this is that you can browse data on AT&T and T-Mobile while on a phone call.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By omnicronx on 12/23/2009 12:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
GSM uses TDMA, which is prohibitively wasteful of bandwidth if you're trying to share a limited amount of bandwidth among a bunch of users.
GSM 3G is not TDMA at all, its UMTS which is based on WCDMA technology. It has similar load balancing as CDMA in which it will reduce call quality and lower data rates when more users are present, there is not a hard limit per slice like TDMA.
Basically every phone making a phone call to a tower gets an equal share of the tower's bandwidth regardless of whether or not they're using it. That's why AT&T and T-Mobile were so slow to get their networks up to 3G speed.
Switching to UMTS and having to install new transmitters in pretty much every tower is the reason it has taken them so long. For CDMA the 3g switch was mainly on the phone receiver end, GSM 3G was both tower and phone. That being said, I don't see what you are getting at here..
They basically had to invent a whole new way to offer 3G speed data services, then install a second transmitter/receiver for it into their phones. A side-effect of this is that you can browse data on AT&T and T-Mobile while on a phone call.
'They' didnt event anything, they adopted a standard, and your last statement is entirely incorrect. GSM does not fall back to GRPS 2g to make phone calls so that you can use 3g data at the same time. If you have 3G available (i.e you have turned it on and/or you are getting 3g reception), both the data and phone call will be transmitted over it. In other words the only time you will use 2g GSM is when you explicitly turn 3g off on your phone, or 3g service is not available.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By goku on 12/22/2009 6:58:25 PM , Rating: 3
To reap any power savings from the WIFI, you need to disable the cellular radio. This is akin to saying "yeah bluetooth is a BIG power hog! It reduces my battery life so much!" Well yeah if you keep both the cellular radio and bluetooth radio on! But if you choose to use just the bluetooth radio, you'll see an enormous drop in power usage, if you choose to use just the Wifi radio, you too will see an enormous drop in power usage. The cellular radio is huge power drain and it's no-wonder why cellular phones have great difficulty in maintaining battery life.

If you have the cellular radio on, it is always draining power because it's always talking to the cell tower, letting it know that you're still there. Try Switching your phone to flight mode and you'll quickly find how much longer your battery life can be extended. To put the power savings of disabling the cellular radio, with my old battery in my phone, if I keep cellular radio on, but never make a call or use the phone for anything, the battery will be dead in about 4 hours. If I switch the phone into "flight mode" (disables cellular radio) the phone will last about a week and that's with running all sorts of applications except browsing the web and making calls.

Now with this said, this brings up another issue, how are you suppose to make calls with the radio disabled? Well you can't and so maybe AT&T needs to make a VOIP app for the iPhone so that when connected to a WiFi connection, it partially disables the cellular radio and redirects incoming and outgoing calls through the VOIP app.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By ChristopherO on 12/24/2009 1:42:59 AM , Rating: 2
This was hilarious. Thanks.

If I switch the phone into "flight mode" (disables cellular radio) the phone will last about a week and that's with running all sorts of applications except browsing the web and making calls.

Pity you can't actually talk to anyone. I mean, rationally everything you said makes perfect sense, but you'll also save a lot of gas if you buy a car and never drive it. Or buy a Blu Ray player and never put a disc in it...

And just to be technically accurate, the cellular radio is not as big of a power drain as you're claiming. Older wireless technology used much more inefficient radios than today's chips, and a fresh RAZR with new battery could go 4-7 days between charges, assuming normal tower communications. The problem specifically is that the ancillary hardware takes more power, and the smart-phone features.

Skipping email, or direct-push, etc, will enhance your battery the most, but you would need to be crazy to buy a smart phone if that was your intent. For example, MS Exchange support will ping an HTTP server every 6 seconds with the mobile ID and see if anything is queued for the user. If the HTTP front-end server responds in the affirmative, it initiates a full synch (it's a very, very small communication when nothing is there -- we're talking 2 packets, unless the ack comes back and then it gets big).

Remote POP/web mail is even more inefficient because the queuing just isn't there (a pop cycle will typically run many thousands of packets depending on mail volume)... But the frequency of synch is usually vastly less than 6-seconds, so it can even out in the end. By practical experience, a 30-60 minute pop cycle is usually about the same battery life as direct Exchange synch.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By omnicronx on 12/23/2009 12:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
Leaving on wifi on any phone will do this, but the point here is not to leave wifi on all the time, its to use it instead of 3g when available.(i.e when you know you are in a hotspot)

This will be a good thing for the carrier (you are not using the 3g service), and you, (faster transfer via wifi and lower latency). The difference in battery during the time you are actually transferring data(i.e 3g vs wifi) should be negligence. Either way both consume a lot of power.

This does not even take into account the fact that you can get things done on wifi faster.

RE: WiFi battery issues
By fox12789 on 12/30/2009 9:32:51 AM , Rating: 2
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