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Innovation

No surprise: AT&T's network can't handle iPhone usage at CES

It should come as no surprise that AT&T was ill-equipped to handle the flood of iPhone users at the CES conference in Las Vegas this week.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

I'm not surprised one bit to hear that the iPhone experience in Las Vegas this week was, well, poor. And I'm even less surprised to hear AT&T blame it on a large number of people using smartphones at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Well, duh! It's only the biggest technology show of the year, full of geeks who are sure to be carrying iPhones. It's like South-by-Southwest all over again. If you'll recall, attendees of that show in Austin last year squawked loudly at the pretty much all but non-existent iPhone service in that city. AT&T tells the Washington Post in its Post Tech blog:

In preparation for CES, we optimized our network in Las Vegas by significantly augmenting our network capacity. However, at an event such as CES, where large numbers of people in a dense area are using smartphones over finite spectrum, periods of network congestion can occur. Our network engineers on site continue to take steps to optimize our network as needed for the large number of mobile broadband customers at CES.

Verizon, for what it's worth, told the Post that it wasn't experiencing any problems with its network in Las Vegas.

I'm sorry but this is getting so ridiculous that's it's not even funny anymore. Sure, we non-iPhone folks have been mocking the cool kids with the cool phones because they couldn't so much as place a call or send a tweet over AT&T's network - especially since each of them pays a minimum of $100 per month for access.

But now, I feel bad for my iPhone-carrying pals, sympathetic because they're stuck in two-year contracts for a device that they just can't rely on to work consistently.

The Nexus One and Droid phones that I'm playing with right now may not be as cool as an iPhone - though I would disagree - but they pretty much work consistently.

Just this week, AT&T said that it has completed a software upgrade at its 3G cell sites so it can deploy faster technology but that upgrades in New York and San Francisco are still a work in progress - for a number of reasons. Apparently, Las Vegas is a problem city, too - if large crowds show up for big technology conventions like CES.

I can't help but wonder if AT&T can actually get its 3G act together before Verizon starts rolling out 4G later this year.

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