It's tempting to imagine AT&T is intentionally slowing iPhone 4 uploads due to network issues, but the carrier insists that a bug is to blame. AT&T says gear from Alcatel-Lucent is malfunctioning and slowing uploads. A software fix is on the way, AT&T says.
In more than two dozen cities, iPhone 4 owners noticed over the weekend that their upload speeds were limited to 100 kbps, leading to allegations that AT&T was throttling its customers. In reality, certain conditions triggered a software defect in markets with Alcatel-Lucent equipment, AT&T said in a statement. HSUPA-capable devices, including the iPhone 4 and Laptop Connect devices, are using older (and slower) upload protocols while Alcatel-Lucent fixes the problem.
AT&T didn't estimate when these customers would get their faster uploads back.
It's no stretch to say that people jumped to conclusions when reports of slower iPhone 4 upload speeds came rolling in. Just look at the Macrumors forum thread where the reports originated. Many of the negative comments about AT&T aren't printable on our family-friendly site, but here's a small selection:
"It looks to me like folks at AT&T realized how much bandwidth the new Apple product is able to consume, and immediately capped the upload speed at 100kbs," says the original poster.
"AT&T knows this weekend will have high usage and they have a limited amount bandwidth for SMS, voice call, and data demands. They need to keep service running well so they cap the data in the upload direction to give extra bandwidth to the other services," says another.
Maybe those folks owe AT&T an apology for guessing wrong, but you can't blame them. AT&T and iPhone owners have endured a rocky relationship due to coverage problems, dropped calls and delays in supporting MMS and tethering.
And despite evidence that AT&T's coverage is pretty good, and that the iPhone itself may be the source of frustration, the carrier ranked poorly among customers, as shown in a December 2009 Consumer Reports survey. A recent PR snafu, in which AT&T sent a legal threat to an iPhone owner for e-mailing complaints to chief executive Randall Stephenson, didn't help.
I'm fresh out of ideas for improving AT&T's image, but as far as this situation goes, a simple "we're sorry for the inconvenience" would've been nice. The full statement from AT&T, posted on Engadget and Macrumors, has nothing of the sort.