Uncommon Wisdom

Jul 8 2010   6:57PM GMT

AT&T mobile upload speed problem could lead to usage caps

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

A reported problem with AT&T’s mobile upload speeds — so severe as to bring back performance levels not seen since dial-up days — was first thought to be an example of carrier traffic shaping. But AT&T says it’s a problem with Alcatel-Lucent’s equipment, used in some areas where the problem was reported.

The flap that developed online over the problem shows that the issues AT&T has had with iPhone over time have created a climate of distrust, which AT&T’s management style hasn’t done much to deflect. We also think the issue came to the fore because of its timing relative to the Canadian announcement that traffic management rules would be applied equally to wireless and wireline networks.

This particular issue will blow over as Alcatel-Lucent deploys a fix to its software, but we think the increased use of wireless video is going to create network congestion problems that will eventually demand some sort of usage cap or tiered pricing remedy.

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