Update: Looks like EDGE got the booster injection this morning. They are talking about the iPhone even on ESPN SportsCenter – which kinda tells you how big this iPhone launch is turning out to be. The two CEOs, Steve Jobs and Randall Stephenson, are of course […]

Update: Looks like EDGE got the booster injection this morning.

They are talking about the iPhone even on ESPN SportsCenter – which kinda tells you how big this iPhone launch is turning out to be. The two CEOs, Steve Jobs and Randall Stephenson, are of course putting full court press, talking to some of the big media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

The big question most of the outlets are asking is why slower EDGE connections, especially since AT&T has a 3G wireless network that is looking for more users.

“Edge is good, but you’d like it to be faster,” Jobs told The New York Times. Jobs explained that 3G chips were too power hungry, and went on to tell the Times. “We felt it wasn’t the right trade-off now.”

“Where you wish you had faster speed is…on a Web browser. It’s good enough, but you wish it was a little faster,” he tells The Wall Street Journal. Clearly, like most of us, Jobs is aware of the speed issues, but then why risk iPhone on the slower network?

The answer is caching – caching inside the iPhone memory to be precise. We are told that iPhone has some of the more popular websites already saved inside the device, and fetches updates from the Web only the information that needs to be updated. This gives an impression of a much faster experience to the end user. Webaroo is a start-up that is doing something similar for non-iPhone portable devices.

In comparison, in case of a 3G device, the entire screen is repainted and as a result the experience sometimes lags. I think it be interesting to see what the final experience is when iPhone owners start going to some of the smaller, lesser known web destinations.

AT&T has tweaked its EDGE network to get rid of some of the latency and add more capacity – From more T-1 lines to its base stations to additional back haul capacity to its network – so there is ample capacity to give the perception of speed. Still, it all seems to be a stop gap solution: Jobs isn’t ruling out a 3G version of iPhone.

  1. AT&T customers report sudden dramatic boost in EDGE speeds
    Friday, June 29, 2007 – 12:45 AM EDT
    From Engadget

  2. Check your EDGE connection this morning.. you’ll notice a nice surprise!

  3. The next question then would be – is the US market big enough for the iPhone? Because if this device is to succeed in Europe, it certainly will not in its current configuration.

    Mobile operators have paid billions of dollars for 3G licenses, and they are neither going to subsidize a high-end expensive phone/PDA that only works on their slow GSM/GPRS networks, nor increase capacity for this older technology.

    And note the subtle difference – GPRS, not EDGE. In some networks there was HSCSD, but it also wasn’t enough. No matter how much caching you are doing, the experience is going to be bad. It was bad enough with WAP over GPRS, and that was B&W text!

    My bet is that Apple is going to launch a 3G iPhone in Europe, and this is the reason for the long delay in the release date. I talked to someone at Apple Europe a few weeks ago, his words: “iPhone? What is that?” – seriously! He said he didn’t have any details, wasn’t allowed to talk about it, or provide any information at all. He couldn’t even acknowledge that the iPhone was going to be launched in Europe.

  4. 4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0edLooks like AT&T flipped the switch on EDGE&

  5. looks like the folks at AT&T read your article overnight and flipped the switch for more speed. I’m sure it was your article and not that new product intro later today.

  6. Operators in Western Europe, Japan and Korea won’t launch the phone w/ out full 3G. Look for a 3G Version in September/October. It is a chip swap-out to get the network capability, but power consumption will suffer.

  7. I’m using Verizon EVDO (teathering MacBook/Razr) so I like the speed and EDGE just sounds pokey in comparison. BUT, in my area (MN/WI) it is only available in the largest cities and no, it won’t drop to 1rx when outside those areas as that still requires a native Verizon tower (or compatible) and there aren’t any once 20 miles from a big city/town. So, no coverage when traveling. In the bigger cities/towns WiFi is available almost everywhere so I don’t actually need EVDO where it is available. I need it where it ain’t. If EDGE is widely avaiable, slow coverage is better than no coverage in my book. This situation is probably true in most areas of the country. So, maybe the EDGEdecision isn’t/wasn’t a bad one.
    The only question I have before buying is can I tether the iPhone. If so, it’s on my buy list.

  8. Jobs is correct that power consumption is a big issue with 3g chips. He didn’t want an ipone whose battery last only 3 hrs

  9. Tom Coseven Friday, June 29, 2007

    The way you get more speed for EDGE is to give it more TDM slots that would otherwise be available for voice. It will be interesting to see if AT&T customers start complaining about voice blocking in denser areas. I would guess that AT&T would rather have non-iPhone voice customers complaining than have the new iPhone customer complaining about speed. After a month watch them ddrop the EDGE speed back down.

  10. @PXlated: I think the Pogue Q&A said that the iPhone could not be tethered. Sorry.

    Although this would be something that could be fixed via software.


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