Commentary
11/30/2011
11:50 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary

Sprint Beefs Up Network For iPhone

Carrier takes action to remedy users' reports of subpar smartphone speeds.



The iPhone launched on the Sprint network October 14 and generated the best sales day ever in the history of the carrier. The launch wasn't without some glitches, though, as some users reported connectivity issues. Sprint has come through and, just six weeks after the launch, is taking corrective action.

According to Cnet, consumer response to the fixes has been positive. "Sprint continues to monitor device and network performance to ensure that customers get the performance they expect from our products," said Sprint VP of product development Fared Adib.

When the iPhone launched on AT&T in 2007, data issues plagued the carrier for years, with the problems only recently being addressed with network upgrades. AT&T's issues though seemed to involve dropped calls and an inability to get online, especially in areas with a lot of iPhone users.

Sprint's problems mostly involve slow data speeds. Sprint's iPhone uses the old EVDO technology and generally downloads in the 480-kbps range, according to tests run by PCMag.com. Users, though, reported speeds in the 200-kbps range. That is enough to make basic video streaming unbearable, and downloading apps or large email attachments becomes enough of a pain you'd be inclined to put it off until you can get to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Some reported speeds as low as 70 kpbs, which puts it squarely in the 2G speed range.

At those speeds not only are some features painful to use, Siri becomes a problem. Sending your voice command to Apple's server for a response requires more bandwidth than 70 kbps.

It is a hassle when you buy a new device that performs substantially below expectations. Smartphones are designed to consume lots of data, but when speeds are limited like this it is about as enjoyable as getting a nice thick homemade milkshake and having to suck it through a cocktail straw.

To Sprint's credit though, it acknowledged the issue very early rather than trying to bury it, and once identified, it rolled out fixes quickly. Not everyone is satisfied yet, but at least it looks like progress is being made.

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