Wired's 3G Study Blames Carriers for Problems + Swedish Antenna Test Confirms?

Remember the Wired.com Global iPhone 3G Study Casey posted about a week or so back? Well, the results are in, and Wired's conclusion is interesting to say the least:

In our view, this data is a strong indicator that performance of the mobile carrier's network is affecting the iPhone 3G more than the handset itself.

Wired further cites the recent Swedish engineering tests, run by Bluetest, which showed that the iPhone 3G's eponymous radio and antenna performed roughly the same as those of the other handsets they tested.

So where does this leave the last, 2.0.2 firmware tweaks from Apple, and hopes that 2.1 would further fix 3G connection problems? Chipset and firmware finger-pointing may have been misplaced, or at least been only part of a larger overall 3G connectivity knot. Either way, it looks like the tennis ball has just been rocketed back into AT&T (and the other carriers') court for now.

From an end-user's perspective, however, especially if you're one of the unfortunate 2%, other than providing some entertaining distraction, does the blame game really help us? Or do we just want it fixed, like, yesterday?

(Thanks Bad Ash and yc for the tips! Thanks to the TiPb faithful who went over there to help out with the study, and thanks to Wired for recognizing them!)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Wired's 3G Study Blames Carriers for Problems + Swedish Antenna Test Confirms?


I think that to assume it's the carrier is somewhat ridiculous when the carriers already have 3G phones that have been working for the better part of a year and a half. I've never had these sorts of problems with my Treo 750, nor have I heard of a mass of Tilt users or blackjack users having all of these sorts of issues. The problem with 3G on the iPhone is Apple's, and they know it. That is why they've committed to fixing it by September.

This is absurd and I cannot stand "news articles" like these that seem to be cropping up everywhere. I have one thing to say, Apple sure is doing a great job of covering their ass and shifting the blame.
I have two 3G phones (non-Apple on AT&T) that do not have a problem with 3G service and one iPhone that does (and this is my second iPhone!!!)
Let's look toward a fix Apple. Yes, this is a problem... and it's Apple's problem... now quit spending money trying to spin the news to look better and FIX IT.
Ewww... I am starting to get angry. This isn't pretty.

"I think that to assume it’s the carrier is somewhat ridiculous when the carriers already have 3G phones that have been working for the better part of a year and a half."
I've compared my Nokia E61i with 4 iPhones 3G, all of them hade much worse 3G receiving, showed 1-2 bars, while using Safari and Maps falled back to EDGE. At the same time the Nokia maintained 3G without problem while transfered data with Google Maps. This tested in Poland, carrier ERA with 3G since 2 years.

i think the Swedish study actually had a better explanation, which described the RADIO within the iphone 3g to be adequate and average, but stated something like software/firmware and network issues to be the explanation.

I am using Fido in Canada and my 3G download speed is not even close to what it say in the "survey". On average i am getting 300kbps.. on a good and rare time, maybe 450kbps.
Here's probably what went down.
Steve: "I am pretty sure it's the carriers"
Wired: "The survey result ain't so hot Mr. Jobs"
Steve: "Are you sure? Here are some free iPhones for you guys to test yourselves."
Wired: "well, if you put it that way, we'll double the speeds being reported"
Steve: "Here are more free Mac stuff for you guys... plus i'll throw in several of my turtle necks sweaters"
Wired: "how does 3x and/or 4x the reported speed sounds?"
Steve: "Told you it's the carriers, not the iPhone"
Steve: "Make sure you find some way to blame Windows"
Wired: "We are way ahead of you"

My (allegedly) 3G Blackjack does have problems. It falls back to Edge constantly. I have friends with the AT&T Tilt with the same problem. AT&T's 3G network is less than awe inspiring.