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Lots of iPhone/AT&T woes at CES

UPDATED with AT&T comment:

At the world's largest high-tech show and tell, many are complaining about their iPhone service.

Throughout the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there were many faces and expressions of frustration.

Kelly Vaughn, who works for Wireless Dealer Magazine in Houston, spent 15 minutes trying to refresh her e-mail on her iPhone this afternoon.

Kelly Vaughn of Wireless Dealer Magazine

"This is the thing that kills me. Here we are with the technology of the future and I can't even use my phone," she said.

The data problems compound complaints in New York and San Francisco, where users are complaining of network failure and the inability to send Internet data from their iPhones at times. During a press conference this afternoon, several reporters complained that they couldn't pull up applications on their iPhones.

Jason Oxman, senior vice president of the Consumer Electronics Association, told me he was trying to send a tweet via his iPhone about a question I raised to national CTO Aneesh Chopra about spectrum shortages and the need to boost wireless networks.

"The great irony is that I couldn't send my tweet," Oxman said.

Dick Lynch, Verizon Wireless's chief technology officer, said in an interview that they weren't experiencing any problems with their network in Las Vegas.

"What we have done and continue to do is have a buffer of capacity above what our demand is at any given point in time. When we see consumer demand begin to feed into that capacity, we scurry out there to add more capacity," said Lynch, who was at CES displaying Verizon's LTE network and devices. "This is a very simple concept and something we have done religiously over the year."

A spokesman for AT&T, which provides service exclusively for the iPhone, said the large numbers of people using smartphones at CES clogged up the network. “In preparation for CES, we optimized our network in Las Vegas by significantly augmenting our network capacity. However, at an event such as CES, where large numbers of people in a dense area are using smartphones over finite spectrum, periods of network congestion can occur. Our network engineers on site continue to take steps to optimize our network as needed for the large number of mobile broadband customers at CES.”

By Cecilia Kang  |  January 7, 2010; 9:45 PM ET
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Next: Federal CTO Chopra, CEA's Shapiro hash out government role in tech


I think this is great! The network issues are getting the spotlight they need. It doesn't matter how cool your gadget is... if the network is poor then it can't perform.
The Android phones really ARE an iPhone killer. Not just because of the competitive features but that it's not tied to just one network. If Apple doesn't expand beyond AT&T soon they are done for.

I just got my android.. and it rocks... on the sprint network ;)


Posted by: TKite | January 8, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Quoting: "This is the thing that kills me. Here we are with the technology of the future and I can't even use my phone,"

Well, THAT's the problem. It's TODAY, it's not the future.

Posted by: KiltBear | January 8, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Alas, this article is an example of blatantly biased reporting and conflicts of interest on the part of reporter Cecilia Kang. The advertising for Kang's blog is provided by Google (whose logo appears twice on every page of her blog), which is affiliated with Verizon and supplies the software for Verizon's "Droid" phone. So, naturally, it is in Google's interest for Cecilia to bash AT&T and the iPhone whilst touting Verizon. The Washington Post should dismiss Cecilia for blatant violations of journalistic ethics and conflicts of interest.

Posted by: squirma | January 9, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and lest we forget: Kang has covered this issue but has failed to mention the rampant complaints regarding the Google "Nexus One" phone; see, for example, the article at

Why is Kang picking on AT&T and Apple and ignoring problems with a device programmed by Google? Could it possibly have to do with the Google logos and advertising on this page?

Posted by: squirma | January 9, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I just launched for the exact same reason. It allows users to upload screenshots of their dropped calls. Check it out and spread the word.

Posted by: callfailure | January 9, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, all of the people that think this author has a bias against AT&T need to be in Las Vegas trying to use an iPhone. It's a joke. Neither the voice nor the data network are reliable. My phone shows full signal and a 3G connection at this very moment and I couldn't make a phone call or send an email if my life depended on it. What's truly interesting is that my AT&T Blackberry, while not great, works a whole lot better than my iPhone.

Posted by: jay1973 | January 10, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

...which reinforces what AT&T has been saying about the iPhone: iPhone users tend to be bandwidth hogs, using 50 times or more the capacity of users of other products. The users are stepping all over one another, which is no fault of AT&T's. It's likely physically impossible, with the radio spectrum that is available, to give all of them them the large amounts of bandwidth that their phones are demanding.

Google's phones, in the meantime, have not yet hit that wall because there aren't as many in circulation; they've only just been released.

So, the article above is, indeed, bashing AT&T and the iPhone. And it does ignore the problems with Google's Nexus phone, which are much more common among users of that device than are problems with the iPhone. (The "traffic jams" in Vegas are a unique event caused by an exceedingly large number of iPhone users converging on one convention floor.)

Posted by: squirma | January 11, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

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