AT&T Network Struggling In iPhone-Dense Urban Areas

MMS is finally coming to the iPhone in two and a half weeks! Yaaay! Wait, iPhone users, why are you still sad? What’s wrong? What are you doing with that AT&T voodoo doll?

iPhones are amazing, data-gobbling machines, and AT&T is having a hard time keeping up with the demand for delicious data, leading to terrible reception in some areas–not due to concrete walls or distant towers, but because there are so darn many people using their tiny data-gobbling machines at the same time in close proximity. The problem is particularly bad in people- and iPhone-dense major metropolitan areas.

“It’s been a challenging year for us,” said John Donovan, the chief technology officer of AT&T. “Overnight we’re seeing a radical shift in how people are using their phones,” he said. “There’s just no parallel for the demand.”

AT&T says that the majority of the nearly $18 billion it will spend this year on its networks will be diverted into upgrades and expansions to meet the surging demands on the 3G network. The company intends to erect an additional 2,100 cell towers to fill out patchy coverage, upgrade existing cell sites by adding fiber optic connectivity to deliver data faster and add other technology to provide stronger cell signals.

AT&T is planning massive upgrades to their network over the next year, but their exclusive rights to sell the iPhone could also be over by then. Then what?

Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T [NY Times]
Big City, Big Troubles [NY Times]

(Photo: milesdeelite)