Lately there has been a lot of noise about the AT&T Mobile Data Network. And, it hasn't been pretty, but the accounts have been true. The network that promises 5 bars of coverage, has a full house, and there's not a lot of flexibility.
Yesterday on the tarmac at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, as I was leaving from four days at CTIA I had no problem logging onto the AT&T Wireless network, but then I couldn't get any further. Web pages wouldn't load. Skype wouldn't connect. It appeared the gateway was down. When I arrived in San Diego at Lindbergh Field everything behaved as it should.
This morning I pulled out the Acer Aspire One which has a built in 3G modem that AT&T and Radio Shack are selling for $99.00 plus a data contract, and ran a series of speed tests, using a variety of services to see what the connectivity is like. The speeds were solid. The connectivity fast. I was topping out over 2 megs on the download and up to a meg on the upload. On the iPhone, from just a few inches away, the speed was 1.4 on the download and in the high 200's for the upload.
Is the experience bad? No. Is it likely to get better. Yes. As more and more devices get put on the network, the capacity will only increase, as will tower and antenna array configurations.
Using Netbooks and other handheld devices to stay connected is only going to put more stress on the networks overall, but were paying top dollar for our network access, and we should not expect anything but what's promised. And delivering on the promise is the challenge that AT&T now has, as they've delivered to their board the promise of more new customers via their iPhone sales success,