20MB downloads may make AT&T's network even worse

AT&T and Apple raised the App size download limit to 20MB. Is this a good thing for AT&T?
Written by Joel Evans, Contributor

Yesterday news trickled out about Apple raising its over-the-air download limit to 20MB for downloading Apps from the App Store over 3G. Previous to this change, if an App that you were trying to download was more than 10MB, you had to download it either on your computer and then sync it to your iPhone, or you had to download it while on Wi-Fi.

While many people, including myself, are very excited about the idea of being able to download larger Apps over 3G, I'm left wondering if this is actually a bad thing for AT&T's already overtaxed network. For example, most people would prefer to download directly from their iPhone, but used to get prompted with a "Connect to Wi-Fi" message if they wanted to download anything over 10MB. This served as a limiter, which many people were comfortable with. If that limit is suddenly lifted, will people be more inclined to download as much as they want from their iPhone? If so, that's potentially double the traffic on AT&T's already overburdened network.

Another potential issue with offering larger downloads over 3G is what I call the Broken Download. I'm not sure what the official name for it is, but it happens when you start a download and then your network connection gets spotty. Sometimes your iPhone ends up with a broken App download. This usually results in making it next to impossible to launch any other Apps. The only known cure that I've found is reconnecting your iPhone to your computer.

The rumors are that AT&T and Apple moved the limit to 20MB to accommodate eBooks and other iPad-related Apps that are coming soon. This could definitely be the case, but perhaps the limit was raised to see how the network would handle the increased traffic, basically simulating what would happen if iPad users started hitting it full force?

For now I haven't seen any change in my network quality but then again I don't live in NYC, where AT&T thought it was acceptable to have 30 percent dropped calls, not too long ago.

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