Talking tech since 2003

Just about every iPhone owner that I have ever talked to has expressed complete and utter satisfaction with their device overall.  Be it the sleek design, touch-screen navigation, or more apps than one could ever dream of, there are a lot of things that make the iPhone an appealing choice to consumers.  However, there is one aspect that users have voiced frustration and flat-out anger over time in and time out; AT&T, the mobile network that Apple partnered with from the get-go.

It seems that the wide-spread disappointment with the iPhone’s performance on the AT&T network has been around just as long as the iPhone itself.  This disappointment has fueled users desire for the availability on other networks in the US – most predominantly Verizon.  And for years now, we have heard continuous rumors that the iPhone would become available on the Verizon mobile network as well, however these rumors have – until recently – turned out to be nothing more than wishful thinking.  Now, with pre-orders already in place and widespread availability of a Verizon iPhone in our midst, many are wondering just how Verizon is going to handle the bandwidth intensive device on their network so that they can protect their fragile public image and prevent themselves from gaining the same image that AT&T has earned over the last few years.

You see, one of the biggest issues with AT&T’s network right now is the simple fact that it is over-congested, and despite the continuous upgrades that AT&T is making to their infrastructure on a daily basis, is not able to handle the sheer amount of traffic generated from the bandwidth-intensive iPhone.  This ultimately leads to significantly lower speeds for iPhone users.

Verizon’s plan for handling the iPhone’s traffic on their network, according to the Boston Globe, will involve limiting the amount of traffic that is generated.  While many may simple assume that this means simple bandwidth caps, Verizon’s plan goes a bit further in handling the traffic more dynamically without a horrid impact on paying end-users.

In higher traffic  and more densely populated 3G regions where users suffered from slow loading times, Verizon plans to compress the data transmitted over the network in order to free up more bandwidth and ultimately speed up the network.  This compression, according to Verizon, will eliminate colors in photos and videos that are “not visible to the human eye.”  This concept of server-side compression which is already employed by services such as “Turbo” in the Opera web browser essentially cuts out the unnecessary bulk of a file and makes it a much more “consumable” size.

New Verizon customers (as of February 3rd) are now also subjected to intentional connection throttling as well.  While this is definitely a legitimate concern for consumers, the Boston Globe points out that Verizon will only limit the download speeds of the users who hog the most bandwidth.  This concept too is one that we have already seen in recent years when Internet service provider Comcast began to roll out limits and caps aimed at fending off the retrospectively small number of bandwidth hogs that interfered with the service and quality of service to other customers.

When all is said and done, I honestly applaud Verizon for working counter-actively to prevent network congestion before it happens.  And even though I am sure there are going to be people who disagree with the new measures that Verizon is putting in place, the fact of the matter is that they are only going to apply to new network customers, meaning that won’t see an outrage amongst existing customers.  On the flip side, however, I have to question  if Verizon is rolling out these changes based on their fears that their network will not be able to adequately handle the fluctuating traffic it is bound to see in the coming months.

Will these changes better or worsen Verizon’s implementation of the iPhone?  Is the grass simply always going to be greener on the other side?  Only time will tell, but at this rate we sure won’t have to wait long.

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