AT&T Gives iPhone "Hogs" Flashbacks to Dial Up

Cellular provider struggles to keep up with needy iPhone users

By Sajid Farooq
|  Thursday, Sep 3, 2009  |  Updated 4:17 PM PDT
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AT&T Gives iPhone "Hogs" Flashbacks to Dial Up

@Mikehedge on Flickr

Tweeting from your iPhone may be killing your ability to get a text message.

For iPhone users it's all about the network. The once golden child of AT&T is causing headaches for its parent network because iPhone users, it turns out, are network hogs.

Just ask 27-year-old Taylor Sbicca of San Francisco. He told The New York Times he checks his iPhone 10 to 15 times a day, not to call people, but instead to update his Twitter feed and check sports scores.

“It’s so slow, it feels like I’m on a dial-up modem,” he told the Times.

AT&T is struggling to keep its networks strong enough to handle the strain of millions of iPhone owners sucking up "10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user."

The problem is worse in San Francisco and New York City, where one industry expert estimated that 20 percent of iPhone users live.

The result is angry AT&T customers -- who pay the company almost double what the average cell phone user does -- suffering dropped calls, delayed text messages and over all spotty service.

AT&T admits it has delayed the ability to use bandwidth-heavy features such as tethering, the ability to send and receive text messages with pictures and video, until the company strengthens its networks to avoid further darkening its reputation.

The network's love-hate relationship with the iPhone was on full display at this year's South by Southwest festival, when users suffered the indignity of not being able to tweet live from festival events. Sprint and Verizon subscribers reported no such problem. AT&T was forced to issue an apology.

AT&T's competitors may soon get their chance to feel its pain though. Reports are Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T to sell the iPhone could end as early as next year.

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