Thursday, August 28, 2008

Orange - limiting 3G iPhone speeds

European Network Operator Admits To Slowing 3G Speeds

Wired recently reported that the 3G iPhone's poor speeds are the fault of the network operators, not the device itself. In France, at least, this is very true. French wireless network operator Orange has admitted that it is slowing down the surfing speeds of mobile phones on its 3G network.

Wired surveyed readers all over the globe. In contrast with other tests performed on the 3G iPhone itself (which suggest the device has a bad radio air interface), it seems as though the wireless networks themselves are to blame for slow 3G speeds. At least according to Wired's survey.

In France, Orange is the network operator that offers the 3G iPhone. After taking a look at Wired's data, many noticed that Orange customers were experiencing the slowest speeds. You can imagine the consternation of Orange customers.

Ars Technica reports, "Orange has revealed that all 3G devices on its network are capped at download speeds of 384 Kbps, roughly one-fifth the download speeds that T-Mobile users have been getting and a little over 5 percent of HSDPA's theoretical maximum speed. Never fear, though: Orange will be upping the cap to a whopping 1 Mbps by Sept. 15, but the boost may not be enough to clam consumers now that the trickery has been revealed."

I would not want to be a customer service representative at Orange right now.

How do speeds compare in the United States? Well, according to Apple, the 3G iPhone is capable of hitting the theoretical speed of 3.6 Mbps. I spoke to AT&T about this issue when the iPhone was first released in the United States. While the device may be capable of hitting 3.6 Mbps, it won't go any faster than 1.4 Mbps on AT&T's network. AT&T was not clear with me if the speed restraint was a real-world usage scenario (which is likely) or an actual cap on data speeds.

Any way you look at it, AT&T's U.S. customers are seeing faster 3G speeds than those using the Orange network in France. But that's not saying much.

Apple has acknowledged the issue, and says a fix will be made available for poor reception issues in September.

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