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AT&T Wireless Data Still Growing At 1000% 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-and-bigger dept.
jfruhlinger writes "AT&T's wireless network came under a microscope when it seemed unable to handle the massive data use boost that came when the iPhone arrived on the scene. The company has since put money into its infrastructure, and that growth rate has slowed somewhat, but it's still gone up 30 times over the past three years."
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AT&T Wireless Data Still Growing At 1000%

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  • Still poor coverage out by me...
    • I live in the LA area, and my friends on ATT drop calls and have slower bandwidth than I do on sprint - at a higher cost. The iPhone is great hardware, but as long as it is ATT only, my money is with Sprint. Besides, I love my HTC EVO with 4G.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Interesting..in most parts of New Orleans and area..I get almost full bars, and rarely a dropped call.

        When I had sprint...post Katrina...I could hardly get a signal in most parts of the city.

        Guess it is really location dependent.

        • Like most things, YMMV. I have had both companies, and have had very little problems with either of them. I am glad to hear that ATT is upping their data capabilities though - their innovation and expansion can only lead to better service for all of us, regardless of carrier.
      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        My votes with you. I ditched my 2nd Gen iPhone for an EVo three months ago.

        Had it not been for financial restraints I would have ditched it for a Nexus One much earlier.

  • Are more realistic, in that I have few bars and few signal.

    I had an older edge-only, edition and I don't know how I could have ever used it, leading me to conclude that ATT data rates have fallen to edge levels.

    • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:28PM (#34261804)

      Perhaps your expectations have altered drastically over the years.

      You were probably happy to get EDGE and were probably amazed by it. I once took a trip guided only by google maps on a Razr for pete sake!!

      Dropped calls have gone virtually to ZERO per month for me on AT&T. Wep page dwnload speeds increased noticeably as well. I first noticed a dramatic drop back in April of 2010.

      Perhaps AT&T made dramatic improvements in Network Reliability and speed in my area. That is the date my Android phone arrived and I retired my iphone. I never worry about bars any more.

      Its still not "fast enough", and it probably never will be, because "fast enough" is a moving target. But for all the flak AT&T gets, in my area is pretty darn good.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Interesting. As an edge-only iPhone user, I've noticed my dropped call increasing astronomically from an average of one drop every three or four weeks to often two or three drops per day. All since early 2010. My guess is they're robbing Peter to pay Paul rather than building out their infrastructure as they should.

        • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:10PM (#34262400)

          You are correct about that to a certain degree.

          They (AT&T) have been shifting frequencies around and putting 3G services on the lower bands with better building penetration and shifting edge over to the higher bands.

          Almost all Edge phones are quadband so you don't have to do anything at the headset, and may never notice this unless you live on the fringe of the Edge coverage zones.

          Hope you have downloaded the Mark The Spot app and use it regularly.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Shakrai (717556)

            They (AT&T) have been shifting frequencies around and putting 3G services on the lower bands with better building penetration and shifting edge over to the higher bands.

            They aren't just moving EDGE to 1900mhz, they've also moved voice services in many areas. All fine and dandy until you get out into the fringe of coverage and can't make or hold a voice call....

            As much as I loathe Verizon I've never seen them make changes to their network that dicked over existing customers. AT&T has done so on numerous occasions.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:41AM (#34265046)

              "As much as I loathe Verizon I've never seen them make changes to their network that dicked over existing customers. AT&T has done so on numerous occasions."

                        Absolutely. Here's some examples:
                        Analog -- the phone cos (that had 850mhz spectrum) were required to keep analog running until recently. AT&T would keep the *bare minimum* 1 channel running, even in areas where that channel was consistently busy from either analog roamers or TDMA phones still in service. They also didn't maintain the equipment so some of these channels actually didn't work, didn't have the proper transmit power, or were noisy. Verizon tried to maintain the same level of service for analog as for their current services -- if an area had heavy usage they'd run more analog channels, they kept the equipment maintained, and so on, up until the shutoff point.

                        EVDO -- they made a point of not compromising voice service. In areas where they need plenty of 850mhz voice (CDMA 1X) channels for reliable service, it means they'll have like 1 850 EVDO channel and the rest at 1900 -- it's better to have data slow down at the fringe than to have calls start dropping constantly.

                        LTE -- they've publicly said they'll keep 1X running until at least 2020, even though LTE will be completed by 2013-2014. (They haven't said anything about EVDO, but once a lot of traffic shifts to LTE they could probably keep 1 channel of EVDO going and it'd be plenty for the remaining EVDO devices) This gives 6 to 7 years for people to switch.

                        Contrast this to (pre-merger) AT&T Wireless and Cingular, which BOTH quit selling TDMA phones (switching to GSM exclusively) BEFORE they had even finished building out their GSM network. And contrast it to the current situation, where they keep reducing the service levels for GSM-only customers to improve 3G (reducing number of GSM channels, and moving them to 1900 to free up 850 for 3G), while continuing to offer numerous models of GSM-only (i.e. *non*-3G) phones. When I looked a month or so ago, 50% of the models they had on the web site didn't have 3G! THIS is the root of AT&T's present problems -- it's like, if you want people to use 3G, quit selling non-3G phones! Cost isn't an issue any more, there are cheap and basic 3G phones for those who don't want something fancy.

                        I should note, AT&T's excuses really are excuses -- Verizon's data traffic has been increasing FASTER than AT&T's, to the point that it's predicted VZW will carry MORE traffic than AT&T by sometime in early 2011. Android phones use more data than IPhones, and due to huge Android phone sales, there's more of them too.

      • But for all the flak AT&T gets, in my area is pretty darn good.

        I'm happy for you. Myself, I get 0-2 bars anywhere within two miles of my home. Our arguments are anecdotal though, look at a coverage map for AT&T and you'll see there are huge swaths they do not cover at all.

        • by icebike (68054)

          To tell you the truth, once the calls stopped being dropped (because I got off the iPhone with its crappy Infinion radios), I haven't paid a bit of attention to bars.

          Phone works when I need it, and calls don't drop. Data rate not as fast as I'd like.

          I know people in NYC are bleeding. (Or at least complaining loudly). But I'm not seeing that in the Pacific Northwest.

          • Speaking of the Northwest, I was in Alaska and encountered 2 areas where iPhones worked and my Sprint Android phone did not.

            I asked one dude (whose phone was working) whether it was GSM or CDMA. He said it was an iPhone. I didn't even try to explain...

            • by icebike (68054)

              Sprint = CDMA.
              Iphone = GSM

              There are lots of places in Alaska where there is only one real carrier choice, and many of these places only get GSM.
              There is even one large state carrier up there that won't let anyone roam onto their network. How dumb is that! Roaming money is pure gravy for carriers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Dropped calls have gone virtually to ZERO per month for me on AT&T.

        There must be some really strong cellular signals and efficient antennae in Fantasyland.

        Perhaps AT&T made dramatic improvements in Network Reliability and speed in my area.

        Yes, I think I read somewhere they were planning on service improvements there, in Fantasyland, where iPhone batteries never lose their ability to hold a charge and nobody's ever seen the bottom of the bottomless cup, and everyone at the coffee shop is a published

        • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:32PM (#34262670)

          FantasyLand, Or in the Android world, where I now dwell.

          I'll just come out and say it, even tho the Apple Mod Nazis will mark it troll in no time flat:

          At least 70% percent of AT&T's bad rap came from Infineon chip sets in Apple iPhones.

          Since that was a huge percentage of the userbase, it made the carrier look much worse than it was. AT&T BB users had no where near the same percentage of complaints.

          My problems went away with the iPhone. YMMV.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            I was just being a jerk, sorry. In fact, I barely knew what a dropped call for the years I had my RAZR on AT&T here in Chicago. I bought my daughter a gen2 iPhone and it was like we were on different networks. I still use a relatively cheap phone and ubiquitous wi-fi. I'm not interested in carrying a smartphone of any kind, so 3G and 4G don't really matter to me right now.

            But you're right, I rarely get dropped calls, though I think I'm just lucky to live in an area with strong signals. I keep AT

    • slashdot, fix a.fsdn.com

      or do i have to map it to google.com or something that WORKS!!!

      40 second replies is lame.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is Apple's Achilles Heel. When demand outstrips the AT&T bandwidth, an iXxx will no longer be as desirable.
    • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:48PM (#34262060)

      This is Apple's Achilles Heel. When demand outstrips the AT&T bandwidth, an iXxx will no longer be as desirable.

      Demand has already outstripped AT&T bandwidth. That happened two years ago. That's the whole point of the story.

      With that as the historical base, we look at AT&T exclusivity ending just at the time when AT&T shows signs of catching up with demand.

      Or is that iPhone new contracts actually tapering off. Even tho Apple is selling iPhones like crazy, it hasn't translated into that many new customers for AT&T. They activated a record 5.2 million of the devices last quarter, but gained a net of only 2.6 million new mobile customers. See. [businessweek.com] So clearly the bandwidth demand growth is starting to slow down.

      No one else could have handled the iPhone bandwidth demand back in 2007-2009 period any better than AT&T did.

      The Achilles heel of Apple may be when they release a CDMA iPhone for Verizon and people suddenly realize half the stuff they used to do on the iPhone does not work on CDMA where you get Talk OR Data. For that reason, I suspect Verizon does not get an iPhone till Verizon gets LTE.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556)

        No one else could have handled the iPhone bandwidth demand back in 2007-2009 period any better than AT&T did.

        Verizon could have handled it better than AT&T.

        The Achilles heel of Apple may be when they release a CDMA iPhone for Verizon and people suddenly realize half the stuff they used to do on the iPhone does not work on CDMA where you get Talk OR Data.

        Verizon is supposedly working on a way to rectify this problem. There was a story about it here or on BBR a few months ago. Here's one link [slashgear.com] that talks about the upgrade to CDMA.

        I'm curious to know if this is really a big issue for a significant number of people? I've had my Android phone now for five months on Verizon and I really haven't had a problem with this. I do have the option to use wi-fi while I'm talking on the phone but I've rarely exercise

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        But can the other networks handle it?

        Because maybe AT&T can offer better plans rates/more GB to keep customers, even with the loss of exclusivity.

        • In Australia were gsm but no problems with our new fangled gizmos. Get over 1mb most places. Of course our telcos charge through the nose

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Not really. Remember, it's only in America that the iPhone is tied to a single (and hence, over-congested) network. iThings are sold in dozens of countries and in most of them, are used on whatever network the purchaser wishes.

      Having said that, the implication that iDevices are responsible for the bulk of traffic on phone networks isn't really true these days. It was true initially when the iPhone was one of the first popular consumer devices that encouraged mobile data use, but now there are many good alte

  • Red Flag (Score:1, Troll)

    by slick7 (1703596)
    Sounds like Enron to me.
  • That's not surprising. Considering all of the new media streaming apps there are it will only grow. The official Netflix streaming app alone must use a significant amount of bandwidth if used regularly.
  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:21PM (#34261716) Journal
    I just asked my friend who works with Verizon, he says if AT&T data usage was at 1000 GB, 1000% more is just (1000GB + 1000GB/1000%) = 1001 GB, so I don't see what the problem is.
  • Math (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThanatosMinor (1046978) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:35PM (#34261904)

    Somebody forgot about compounded growth.

    1000% growth over three years (compounded annually) would have them grown a thousandfold over three years. Compounded continuously would be ridiculously large.

    If you assume continuous growth, the actual growth rate would be ln(30)/3, or about 113%. If you just want a number to quote as the annual growth rate that would give a thirtyfold increase over three years, go with 211% since (1+2.11)^3 is about 30.

    • No way man, your calculations are all wrong.

      10% growth per year, compounded over three years is 3 x 10% growth. 10 x 10 x 10 = 1000, so it's obviously 1000%.

      I thought this was a nerd site...!
  • I mean imagine offering to sell people something, and then have them show up, give you money for it, and then expect to use it! What kind of crazy system IS that?

    Can we stop reprinting AT&T press releases that show they continue to be completely baffled by market economics?

  • It's good to know that AT&T is at least trying. I've avoided cancelling my service with them due to the fees and the fact I still have an unlimited data plan. On the flip side, you can probably count me as part of the problem too. My HTC Pure is currently running Dutty's ROM just so I can have an easier time using it as a wireless router for my netbook when out of the house.
  • ...we tolerate poorer and poorer cell service for more and more money. I switched from my KRAZR to an iPhone and my call quality went down by AT LEAST 30%. Now, for the princely added sum of $30 per month I can have dial-up internet response. Such a deal!

    Why did I buy this thing? My wife and kids insisted!

  • We had an earthquake here in Central Oklahoma a couple of months ago. Not a biggie, just a "rattler". The cell lines (voice and data both) went down from overload, as did the AT&T *land lines*. I'd hate to see what happens when the next "Big One" hits (whatever that event is...).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by CrackedButter (646746)
      I would argue this because in 2012 I saw people using their phones all the time and they had to deal with extreme tectonic plate movements and tsunamis. Their cell coverage was fine, this was in India though, maybe their networks are better. Plus India uses CDMA.
  • Read the post (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi@NOSpam.smokingcube.be> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:54PM (#34262156) Homepage

    The total data volume over the nationwide network went from 1 billion megabytes per year to 30 billion megabytes per year. Or from roughly 900TB/365days or 2.4TB/day to 28,610TB/365days or 78TB/day.

    Divide that by their 100 million customers and on average each customer uses not even 1MB/day.

    If you want to be an ISP and you cannot carry more than 1MB/day, you should not be an ISP.

  • If these jerks think they have the right to own the internet they should at least have the courtesy to give us all the wireless data we want.
  • So, when ISPs invest in their infrastructure, they can offset even huge data transmission bottlenecks, like, in 3 years ?

    then why the hell arent they just investing in the internet infrastructure, and just shutting their mouth about 'two tiered internet' and whatnot ?
  • yes, they're making money from the iPhone. unquestionably.

    but this massive increase in data is also a huge increase in cost, which they'll have to recoup over several years. the iPhone may actually have put them under water temporarily.

    • by NuShrike (561140)

      Commonly called BS because they were already negligent in their infrastructure buildup when at least 70% composed of old-guard AT&T vs Cingular after the merger. This is backed up by their quarterly reports where they were making making massive profits and executive bonuses instead of sinking it into infrastructure.

      OTOH, T-Mobile's recent quarterly report shows they are building out heavily hence the pretty lean profits -- ignoring the flat subscriber growth.

  • Do not trust AT&T (Score:5, Interesting)

    by straponego (521991) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:52PM (#34262858)
    Or any telco, but especially ATT. When the iPhone/ATT first earned its reputation as a horribly unreliable phone, ATT said they were going to invest $15 billion in the next year to fix the issue. A year later, they boasted that they'd spent $2 Billion in the last year, yet somehow it still wasn't enough. Huh. Pretty sure the ball got dropped somewhere between engineering's requirements and yacht hookers for executive yachts. Just like when the US government handed out tens of billions for infrastructure upgrades that the telcos translated into record profits and third world Internet speeds. Telcos and cable companies enjoy taking the money, see, but the part about investing some of it seems pointless, given their government supported monopolies.
  • Wait... why is this under the "Apple" category...?
  • I started my current job 3 years ago, about the exact same time I got my new phone, for those 3 years my phone has been sitting in a dead zone or as I like to call it, my office

  • by slapout (93640) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:14PM (#34264002)

    Smartphones have been available for at least 10 years now. If AT&T and other carriers had started investing in their data networks then, they wouldn't be having this problem now.

    • by mveloso (325617)

      Well, the old smartphones weren't like today's smartphones. They were useable only by hardcore business people and geeks, which as you should know represent a miniscule percentage of the actual public.

      Back then, 1 frame a second was great. Today, 24fps is the new black.

  • Lies (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @11:01PM (#34264440) Homepage Journal
  • I love the way the anti-Apple trolls pile on in these discussions. FWIW, I don't own an Iphone and don't plan to get one. That said, I used to be an AT&T customer - with a Motorola cell phone. In Silicon Valley I couldn't get a signal at work or at home and it was hit or miss in other places. The mall kiosk selling AT&T phones couldn't demonstrate them because there was no signal there. I left them and moved to another carrier for just that reason - lousy signal, lousy coverage. Are they better no
  • Like the oil industry, if you are cheap at the beginning, and later do not want to reinvest, then of course you will create a bottleneck for those using your services. The oil industry could easily use those TRILLIONS of dollars declared as profit from 1 year, and create 5 new oil refineries, so that next time a hurricane or tornado hits in texas, we are not hit with price hikes because they supposedly can not provide for us (BS if you ask me).....now the cell cos are following suit. Of course, they could

  • Our collective experience at work, as it relates to the iPhone in Cambridge, MA (and surrounding region) is that the AT&T network still lacks (put politely). I get dropped calls, spotty coverage and customer service doesn't really care about responding to complaints.

    I realize that some of this is infrastructure related and that every carrier has issues -- but really, I'm so tired of the problems that even the glitter of a iPhone doesn't appeal much anymore. I'd rather have great coverage than a fanc

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