The iPhone Is A Stone Cold Network Killer

Being among the first of the world's networks to carry the iPhone practically guaranteed a flush few years. Also, apparently, network trouble. Take the UK's O2, whose spokespeople seem to be reading from the same apologetic script as AT&T's.

Addressing network congestion as the result of iPhone users utilising data services exactly as you'd expect them to, O2's CEO Ronan Dunne told the FT (via AllThingsD):

Where we haven't met our own high standards then there's no question, we apologise to customers for that fact,

Now, remember AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega's qualified admission about the general crappiness of the company's network in some major cities:

[It's]performing at levels below our standards.

So far, so familiar. Dunne takes the next step in what appears to be a step-by-step guide for carrier mea culpas, and claims that it's really not a huge deal:

But it would be wrong to say O2 has failed its customers en masse

Which, again, sounds extremely familiar. AT&T?

We have 98.68 percent nationwide voice retainability, which means that the difference between AT&T and the industry leader is less than 2/10 of a percentage point on this important metric.

Finally, users get a ray of hope. Vague hope, but hope nonetheless:

[Dunne]said "any short-term blip" in O2 's "network reputation" would be "more than addressed" by three solutions to the difficulties.

Which corresponds rather neatly to:

This is going to get fixed," Mr. de la Vega said. "In both of those markets, I am very confident that you're going to see significant progress.

But it's not just the PR damage control that runs parallel here, it's the entire situation. O2, like AT&T, was the first carrier in its country to offer the iPhone, and the only one for quite a long time. iPhone users' increased data use was unprecedented in both markets, and brought the companies infrastructures - which were previously thought to be robust - to their knees. The next analogue is how they somehow failed to predict this: they've known how data-hungry iPhone users are from the start, and they've been watching sales climb at a steady rate. So why weren't these carriers, two of the largest iPhone providers in the world, able to keep up?

That comes down to the last, most important parallel: they're both cheap. Like pretty much every carrier!

To be fair, it is the iPhone that caused their problems, with a potent combination of broad appeal and transparent, heavy data use. It's just the carriers' fault that they couldn't foresee that, or rather, didn't care. [FT via AllThingsD, WSJ]

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