Android Rumors-Rumor: Major cellphone carriers purposely slow data speeds
UNCONFIRMED: While some on Twitter applaud the developer, geek site AnandTech explains why it’s not true.
If you’ve grumbled that your pricey iPhone or iPad have slower than expected data speeds, a developer explains why: He found specialized codes that cap data bandwidth on iPhones and iPads operating on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint — but not on T-Mobile. It’s sparking buzz at such sites asMylan Cellular, MacDailyNews, AppleInsider and CultofMac. As a Benzinga headline succinctly put it: “Code Found on iPhone that Cuts Speed in Half.”
Developer Joseph Brown of iTweakiOS, a site that provides hacked carrier updates for iOS users, contends that he found AT&T effectively limits the iPhone 5 to a slower speed (14.4 Mbps) even though the network can handle faster speeds (21.1Mbps) and the phone itself can be even speedier (42.2Mbps), according to MacRumors. Among other examples, Verizon and Sprint throttle down 3G.
In 2010, AT&T dropped its unlimited data plan for new smartphone customers, causing a social media firestorm. AT&T made a quick fix, allowing existing customers to keep their unlimited plan as long as they didn’t make any significant changes. However, in 2011, the company adopted another new policy in which the top 5 percent of heavy data users saw their speeds slowed, according to a CNet report. And, according to another CNet report in 2012, AT&T throttled service for customers once they reached a certain amount of data usage per month. To cap it all off, AT&T rolled out its new data plan today, which, as you might have guessed, doesn’t include an unlimited data option, PRNewswire reported.
MSN News contacted Apple for comment, but a spokesperson declined.
“You are purposely, 24/7, being throttled, even if you haven’t used more data than you’re authorized to use or that you’ve purchased with your hard earned money,” Brown said, according to iClarified. He told iClarified that he’s sure the speeds are slowed for everyone, not just heavy users who exceed their data limits. “The iPhone 5 I tested the other day was brand new. No LTE data used, so it wasn’t being throttled.”
On Twitter, Brown said: “To be clear, I’m not saying the throttling is a typical throttle where you see 2G speeds. It’s a soft throttle to slow users down a bit.”
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Many sites that initially reported on Brown’s allegations didn’t contest them. An exception was an updated post at 9to5mac.com, which says, in part: “If you look at one of the lines of Apple’s code that he uses to allege throttling, it doesn’t even have anything to do with throttling internet speed.”
But geek site AnandTech since then laid out a case for why it thinks Brown is wrong.
“The reality is that this is simply not the case,” AnandTech’s story reads, in part. “Apple doesn’t limit cellular data throughput on its devices — there’s both no incentive for them to do so, and any traffic management is better off done in the packet core of the respective network operator rather than on devices…” So, “there’s no arbitrary capping” of speeds “that would prevent the device from attaching and taking full advantage of whatever the network wants to handshake with. If you’re going to read anything, just take that away with you, as the full explanation gets technical fast.”
Its refutation prompted a new flurry of buzz, with a new round of stories at such sites as iClarified and MacRumors. “Brown interpreted the word ‘throttle’ in the code to mean downgrading network connection speeds,” states Gigoam.com, but the word here refers to something else — ” ‘retry interval throttle,’ which is the mechanism that prevents a phone from continuously searching for an LTE signal when there are none present.” Concludes TmoNews: “These allegations have been debunked, folks.”
Brown via Twitter said the AnandTech story “basically calls me a liar and a fraud,” prompting some fans on Twitter to applaud him for his “amazing” findings, while other Tweeps gave him grief.
The drama prompted Brown to make a Twitter announcement (since removed) that “for now, I quit. There has been too much negativity aimed at me, things have been taken totally out of context … and I would really like to avoid having the carriers and Apple upset with me.” He said his revelations were meant to point out problems “so the carriers and Apple could address it with each other and fix it, if it needed to be fixed.”
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