AT&T Will 'Fix' iPhone Overload in New York, San Francisco

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009  |  Updated 4:45 PM EDT
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AT&T Will 'Fix' iPhone Overload in New York, San Francisco

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The average iPhone owner can use up to 10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user.

AT&T says it will improve iPhone service in New York and San Francisco -- where users have complained of dropped calls, spotty service and exceedingly slow download speeds.

The head of the company's wireless unit today said Manhattan and San Francisco “are performing at levels below our standards,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  The two cities are especially saturated with smartphone users and make up an estimated 20-percent of all iPhone customers, experts say.

Ralph de la Vega, the chief executive of AT&T Mobility, told an investors conference the issues -- like dropped calls, glacial download speeds, and customer frustrations are "going to get fixed,"

“In both of those markets, I am very confident that you’re going to see significant progress," he said.

More than 20 million smartphone users are on the AT&T network, but other phones do not drain the network the way the nine million iPhones users do, experts say.

De la Vega said that with about 3% of smart-phone customers driving 40% of data traffic, AT&T is considering incentives to keep those subscribers from hampering the experience for everyone else, the Journal reported.

Many customers don’t know how much bandwidth they’re consuming, de la Vega said.

A pricing scheme based on usage is likely, he said. But that move will have to be determined by industry competition and regulatory guidelines.

Earlier this year, AT&T said the majority of the nearly $18 billion it will spend on its networks will be diverted into upgrades and expansions to meet the surging demands on the 3G network.

The Journal said the company also plans to replace some microcells in San Francisco.

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