Has AT&T Sabotaged its Own 3G Network?

Eight second ping times? If you don't know what that means, just think "real slow." A normal ping time over the 3G network should be around 200 milliseconds (that's 40 times faster than eight seconds).

iphone 3G network dead

Why do some connections initiate right away while others take eight seconds or longer? Telecom blogger Brough Turner has researched the problem and explained that AT&T's network configuration could be to blame.

AT&T often blames spotty and inconsistent 3G service on the high-bandwidth demands of the iPhone devices flooding its network. According to Turner's article AT&T's network congestion problems could have nothing to do with the iPhone:

It appears AT&T Wireless has configured their RNC buffers so there is no packet loss, i.e. with buffers capable of holding more than ten seconds of data. Zero packet loss may sound impressive to a telephone guy, but it causes TCP congestion collapse and thus doesn't work for the mobile Internet!

In other words, by not allowing packet loss when bottlenecks happen, the network clogs up resulting in slow download speeds and crappy service. Dropping some packets of data can keep everything flowing smoothly and quickly without clogging the pipes.

Some have suggested other reasons for AT&T's network problems, including specific ways the iPhone interacts with the 3G network. If the company really is to blame by screwing up their own network configuration bad press could make the MMS debacle look like child's play.