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Bad Connection: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown (wired.com)
50 points by jesseendahl on July 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments



This is a nice overview of the iPhone vs AT&T debacle, but the conclusion is sensationalized. It may be that Apple and Google are helping the wireless carriers reach new levels of poor service, but the reality is the carriers have never been that good.

In the 10 years I've had a mobile phone, I can't think of any time when people weren't complaining about their carrier and wondering if any of the others were better. It didn't seem to matter who you were with. Like the Mutt motto: "All mobile carriers suck. This one just sucks less."


It's worth pointing out the one major relevant fact they didn't cover, that Fake Steve Jobs pointed out at the end of last year: every quarter after the first "iPhone Christmas" (4Q07, the first Christmas after the release of the first iPhone), AT&T's had lower wireless capital expenditures (capex): http://www.fakesteve.net/2009/12/att-by-the-numbers.html (through 3Q09 at least).

AT&T made a conscious choice to maintain its operating and net earnings at the expense of its quality of service (something we've heard detailed bits and pieces about, e.g. insufficient backhaul, like this article's comments on the not much used in the US market chip Apple used/uses). We'll see if that was a good choice as Verizon et. al. converge on LTE along with AT&T.


I expected a serious article from Wired about how 3G networks promise so much but can never realistically could deliver the bandwidth consumers want along with an explanation of the reasons why.

Instead I got a puff piece about twitter and people complaining with hashtags (yet again(!)) and about meetings with managers who most likely don't know or understand the issues with the network.

Nobody has approached the topic of 3G network saturation in a serious manner yet. I hope someone does one day.


I thought I would throw this out there because I am sure someone here knows this.

The article said Qualcomm is working with Apple to make a chip that would allow the iPhone to operate on both AT&T and Verizon networks. Does that mean the chip would also work with Sprint by virtue of it also using CDMA or is there more to it than that?


I think there might be more to it than that. I think Sprint uses 1.9 GHz and 800 MHz frequencies, whereas Verizon uses 1.9 GHz and 850 Mhz.

But they both use EV-DO (specifically CDMA2000 EV-DO Rev. A), which is a standard...

On the other hand, it looks like Verizon is fast moving towards LTE. See: http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/18/verizons-lte-rollout-is-i...

and

http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/19/verizons-4g-lte-sim-in-th...

My guess is that the next iPhone supports LTE and is available on either AT&T or Verizon.

Sprint, on the other hand, is only now thinking about using LTE:

http://gigaom.com/2010/07/13/sprint-going-lte-makes-sense-bu...


I doubt that a single iPhone design will work on AT&T and Verizon any time soon. AT&T would need GSM+UMTS+LTE while Verizon would need CDMA2000+LTE. An omni-protocol super-chipset is possible but unlikely.


Interesting point about the Infineon chips and the cell tower distances. I wonder what advantages the Infineon chips had/


When an AT&T representative suggested to one of Jobs’ deputies that the Apple CEO wear a suit to meet with AT&T’s board of directors, he was told, “We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.”

That's the joke, jackass. It's easy to make someone look stupid by reporting a joke as a serious suggestion. If you get called on it, you flaunt your low opinion of their intelligence by saying, "Whatever, they say so much bizarre and retarded stuff it's impossible to tell when they're joking."

None of that is unusual, but why did Wired decide to include itself and its readership inside this junior high put-down instead of reporting it straight?



Of course, there's always the possibility that this is basic factual reporting, and not a joke.

This is a real issue at larger tech companies who must interface with older, established players. Even back at Dell in the early 1990s there was some friction between sales/marketing managers and engineers, with the former arguing that the latter should dress a little sharper in case they inadvertently got on an elevator with a customer.


C'mon, an AT&T underling is handing along advice on what Steve Jobs should wear? I work for a MegaSlowGiantNotWithItCorp, and the people on top aren't stupid. They pretend to be when they can get away with it, but they aren't really. Plus, matters of personality, protocol, and diplomacy are where they shine. The people attending to the AT&T executives probably memorized the names, ages, and favorite sports of Steve Jobs' kids just in case they had a chance to chat with him. They would have, um, kind of known that he was a notoriously finicky control freak and narcissist with an aversion to suits. (You know this, yet you assume that someone whose job it is to know this, and who has finagled themselves into a position working with high-level executives at one of the biggest companies in the world, would somehow not know this?)

Perhaps as a matter of diplomacy, just to get under his skin, they decided to insult him or pull rank on him ("my market cap is bigger than yours"), but they certainly didn't do it on accident. And honestly I can't imagine them needing to invent ways to get under his skin when there are so many contentious issues on the table.

Even back at Dell in the early 1990s there was some friction between sales/marketing managers and engineers

That's the difference between being an engineer and being one of the most powerful and respected CEOs in the industry.

Plus, the 1990s were a lonnnggggg time ago. The bestsellers about the casual tech company culture of the early 2000s are already in the remainder bin, because they've achieved cliché status. If you think the executives at AT&T missed all that, well, it would have been impossible for them to miss it, because they were shopping at Barnes and Noble and watching CNN just like the rest of us.


Do you realise how clueless some MBAs really are. Ok, these days everyone has heard of Steve Jobs and Apple, but 3 or 4 years ago it was less common. They only heard of BillG because he has so much cash. Still most do not know who Larry Ellison is, even with the cash, and can you guess how many know who Linux Torvalds is?

And yes, these are MBAs who work in the IT field, since large companies have the philosophy that management is interchangeable, and you don't need expertise in a particular area to be able to run it.


I worked at a company that I shall not name that had a shirt / tie / coat dress code. They even had a dress code committee. The excuse was that we might bump into a client. The joke was that if a client was ever in our area, it would have been a violation of policy and federal law. They probably wouldn't care how I was dressed when I called security.


It's worth linking to Don Burleson's famous dress code for Oracle consultants:

http://www.dba-oracle.com/dress_code.htm

The idea being that banks and that expect "professional appearance and behavior".


Hired consultants and business partners are different. Consultants work for you. Business partners are theoretically equals, and your sartorial standards are no more important than theirs. In a case like AT&T and Apple, where the balance of power isn't clearly tilted one way or the other, I would say they're equals practically as well as theoretically. It's insulting for one to dictate standards of professionalism to the other.


He has some really interesting points. However, Oracle has a high corporate culture and is usually dealing with Fortune 500 companies with similar values. I think the dress code would be a lot different for hacker startups.

I do agree with his point about first impressions. It's better to wear a suit and have them tell you jeans and a t-shirt are ok than show up in jeans and a t-shirt and everyone else is wearing suits!


from that link: "If you have been working all night and have an early morning meeting, you can use an anti-inflammatory hemorrhoid cream (e.g. Preparation H) to quickly shrink those unsightly puffy bags under your eyes. Just carefully dab the roid cream on your lower eyelids (being careful not to get any in your eyes) and you will look fresh and well-rested."

well, I guess you learn something new everyday.


Wow, that page reads like viral marketing for an American Psycho sequel.

"Very nice, Mr. Bateman, but while you were over at the Marine base getting your Florsheims shined, our load balancer went China Syndrome. We'll let your agency know if we need any more help, thanks."




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