AT&T Cops To Upload Speed Bug

What’s the new corporate spectator sport? How about throwing your partners under the bus. Learning from Apple (s AAPL), which has made that particular practice an art form, AT&T says a software bug in Alcatel-Lucent’s gear is the reason why the upload (or uplink, in jargon) speeds dropped significantly over past few days. I had reported about the speed bumps over the weekend. In response to widespread complaints, AT&T issued this statement today:

AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent jointly identified a software defect — triggered under certain conditions — that impacted uplink performance for Laptop Connect and smartphone customers using 3G HSUPA-capable wireless devices in markets with Alcatel-Lucent equipment. This impacts less than two percent of our wireless customer base. While Alcatel-Lucent develops the appropriate software fix, we are providing normal 3G uplink speeds and consistent performance for affected customers with HSUPA-capable devices.

That statement shows that AT&T’s upload speed problems are bigger than the company has let on. Two percent of AT&T’s wireless customer base works out to approximately 1.74 million of the total 87 million wireless customers. Or roughly 6.5 percent of their total  26.8 million 3G customers at the end of Q1 2010. According to AT&T spokesperson, HSUPA is predominantly a Laptop Connect technology today. “The iPhone 4 is the only HSUPA-capable smartphone that we offer today, though we know that other compatible smartphones are on the horizon,” he said.