AT&T comments on slow upload speeds: software issue

Yesterday, we were concerned that AT&T might have capped iPhone 4 data upload speeds in certain areas. AT&T has responded and assures us that they have not; in fact, it's a software problem.

You may have seen some speculation that we were somehow capping data speeds. We're not. Here's the deal: It's a software issue which AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent have now jointly identified. It's only triggered under certain conditions and has only impacted uplink performance for less than 2% of our customer base — those using Laptop Connect and smartphone customers using 3G HSUPA-capable wireless devices in markets with Alcatel-Lucent equipment. Alcatel-Lucent is developing a longer-term software fix in the coming weeks, but in the meantime we have implemented an alternative that provides normal 3G uplink speeds and consistent performance for affected customers using HSUPA-capable devices.

So the problem has been identified and a fix is in the works. Just to be clear, this is not an issue with iOS 4, but with Alcatel-Lucent's software. More details about the alternative quick fix would have been nice, but if speeds are improving, that's ultimately what matters.

Were you one of the ones affected by slow upload speeds? If so, have you noticed an improvement?

[AT&T - Thanks Gregg for the tip!]

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 26 comments. Add yours.

iPhone4Lover says:

My iPhone 4 just gave me 3293kbps down and 117kbps up from the speedtest.net app on 3G

whsingleton says:

Always glad when the communications channels are open and we know what is going on. Looking forward to the fix. My iPhone 4 is amazing... can't go back to my iPhone 3G screen, it's too low-res.

Travisimo says:

You're telling me it's going to take "weeks" for them to fix this issue? WTF? So we have to deal with 100 kbps uploads and barely can even upload a photo to Facebook for WEEKS??? It was working fine from 6/24 - 7/2 and they're telling us a "software bug" made speeds suddenly drop from 1600 to 100 kpbs?
This stinks, and if it's not fixed before my 30 days are up, I'm returning the iPhone 4 and will just wait for the Verizon edition. This could very well be the last straw with AT&T.

Leanna Lofte says:

Travisimo - The last sentance of their statement says
"but in the meantime we have implemented an alternative that provides normal 3G uplink speeds and consistent performance for affected customers using HSUPA-capable devices."
So no, you don't have to wait weeks to get better speeds. You should start getting them now.

WaLky ChaLky says:

@Travisimo
You sound like a little b***h right now...
No offense... ;)

Ridin Dirty says:

1900k down 89k up in Fredericksburg, VA. Speedtest on iPhone 4

sting7k says:

Upload speeds actually worse today. Didn't break 50kbps, north of Washington, DC.

icebike says:

Phew. The tinfoil was getting too hot to wear in this weather anyway. Glad to have this cleared up.
I'd like to know what caused this to just START happening, because my speed test logs show the slow uploads are a recent thing.
New equipment from Alcatel-Lucent?
And @Travisimo: They did say the will implement an alternative. Did you read that far before firing of your missive of bile?
As for Results:
Mine are still poking along at the same slow rate, half the time and jumping up 5 fold the other half. So it seems the its still a work in progress.

Lars says:

It didn't just start happening - as far as I can tell the iPhone 4 uses HSUPA (whereas the 3Gs does not - or does not in the same way), so this is why it was only apparent with iPhone 4 users.
The problem might have existed for a while, but until iPhone 4 there was no widespread use of a device that ran into this bug.
But that is just my speculation.

macharborguy says:

@Travisimo: yes, weeks. They have to get the software fix made, bug tested, stable AND they need to plan the rollout so they don't have to take the whole network down, and instead do it node by node, verifying that each node properly takes the fix and doesn't crap out.

Limegrntaln says:

Your welcome Leanna, glad you guys had time to get it out to everyone. And Travisimo, it normally takes up to 540 days to go from edge to 3G, so weeks it nothing in this case. Were talking about updating some software and testing it before they put it fully online.

Joseph A. Moniz says:

Hey I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to research and publish this. I passed it along via Twitter under the url http://L0V.ES/c - seems like everyone is interested... 18 taps in just a few seconds.
Joe

cam says:

Does anyone know which markets are using Alcatel-Lucent equipment?

Michael Denney says:

I just got 2.9 down and 1.1 up versus 2.9 down and 141 up yesterday.
http://www.speedtest.net/iphone/44440543.png

Manny says:

I am glad they found this out and for those of u who said u will wait for the 30 days to return ur phone good luck bc Verizon sucks they won't say anything and Blame the other person! I wouldnt of never of switched if there customer service stunk so bad! They need to respect there customers no matter what!

ghostface147 says:

My pad, Houston, TX:
1.43Mbps down, 1.10Mbps up. Test started at 3 bars and ended with 4. Stormy outside.
Re-ran 30 seconds later, 4 bars the entire time and still stormy:
2.21Mbps down and .91Mbps up.
I am a satisfied i4 user. Even with all their issues that I have as well on occasion. I've adjusted to them and it's fine with me. They do need to get their act together however. This is their Vista.

ericd says:

ATT is a joke I love whenever something bad is discovered it is always 2 percent of the subscriber base.

phrint says:

The problem is definitley affecting more than 2% of their user base.

James T. Kirk says:

HOLY FACK! That was super annnoyingggg. I go to www.tipb.com, and they have Ustream video automatically making me listen to their audio! I don't have a super slow computer, or super fast computer, but it as hell slows it the fack down. Shouldn't we have a CHOICE, if we want to listen, or watch you on a video? Isn't that the standard, you press play to watch or listen? holy fack. annoying.

LCW says:

2000-3000 down, yet still <100 up.... Pathetic... Whatever the temporary fix, certainly hasn't reached the Detroit suburbs.

Stubbs69 says:

Yeah i noticed my uploads being crappy too. Haven't tested them though. But i also happened to notice every time I upload a pic to Facebook through email it posts sideways. Just noticed this happening this weekend. Maybe off topic, but these little bugs are getting slightly annoying Anyone else seeing this?

Darkstar says:

My upload speeds have been capping out between about 75-95kbps since I downloading he speedtest app last week. Works GreAT in WIfi though. LuLz!

GinoDotCom says:

The point is, this shouldn't be happening in the first place, especially with the reputation AT&T already has especially in NY- and since it's already Happening,, a few weeks for a software fix is an iternity when you just finish spending $299 on a new phone.

Djlaube says:

Denver still isn't fixed. 2Mb down and only 90k upload, on iPhone 3G running iOS 4 with full bars..

Janey says:

iPhone 3GS in Fort Worth, TX ... and I don't think I've ever seen anything higher than 298kbps up. I hit 3mbit down tho.

Texas Dude says:

My Iphone 3Gs just freezes because they slow down my data. I have to turn off my phone then turn it back on to solve the problem. I guess that is how at&t treats a customer they have had since 11 years?