Will AT&T’s Network Be Able To Handle iPhone 4?
The past few days have been quite eventful for Apple and its carrier partners. The company announced earlier this week that over 600,000 iPhone 4 units were pre-ordered on the opening day. The unprecedented rush among customers to pre-order iPhone 4 caused the servers of both Apple and AT&T to crash.
AT&T has since then temporarily suspended new iPhone 4 pre-orders.
AT&T has reported that the number of iPhone 4 pre-orders on the opening day is a ten-fold increase over the number of opening day pre-orders for iPhone 3GS last year. Despite having reported its best online sales ever on June 15, AT&T's stocks have not shown any appreciable rise in value.
According to CNN, the less-than-impressive performance of AT&T's stocks compared to Apple's in the past one week is indicative of the cautious optimism that investors have shown with respect to AT&T's handset sales. The growth in popularity of the iPhone has significantly impacted the network performance of its carrier. Recent studies have revealed that AT&T ranks as the worst carrier in customer satisfaction. Though Ma Bell is known to be constantly improving its network, the exponential growth of iPhones could mean that the network performance shall not be improving commensurately anytime soon.
Several research analysts have expressed concern that the success of iPhone 4 may cripple AT&T's network even further and have questioned Ma Bell's ability to handle the additional data usage. Also, with the iOS 4 releasing on Monday that will allow users to multitask between applications, the average data consumption among iPhone users is expected to rise even further.
It needs to be noted that AT&T has taken a few steps that can slow down this data consumption level. The carrier had announced a new data pricing policy this month that replaced the unlimited plans with a usage based pricing structure. AT&T has also launched a pilot Wi-Fi project as a solution to fix data congestion issues in places with high smartphone density like New York City.
However, a significant number of iPhone 4 users who will upgrade from older iPhone models are expected to retain their older unlimited data usage plan. Given these circumstances, AT&T network's response to iPhone 4 remains to be seen.
Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin points out that while iPhone's success may have crippled AT&T's networks, it has also meant that the carrier is getting better equipped to handle heavy data usage. He writes:
"The success of the iPhone has been a double edged sword for AT&T. Because iPhone users consume more data than any other smartphone customers, AT&T has been constantly learning how to manage heavy data usage on a cellular network"
So do you think AT&T's network will be able handle the onslaught from new iPhone 4 users? We really hope it can. Let us know your views in the comments section below.
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