updated 12:05 pm EDT, Wed July 7, 2010
ATT says 2pc of HSUPA towers hit by Alcatel glitch
AT&T today explained the sudden upload speed drops that had plagued iPhone 4s and other devices on its network. The carrier claimed that the issue was sparked by a "software defect" in Alcatel-Lucent's 3G base station hardware that stalled uploads for any device that supports HSUPA. A fix is being developed, a spokesman said, but there was no estimated time for when it would be resolved.
The company spun the story by claiming that only two percent of its customers would be affected and that the glitch still meant "normal" HSPA upload speeds. Customers have disagreed as the speed dropped from typical speeds of more than 1Mbps up to, in some cases, less than 100Kbps. HSPA usually provides more than 100Kbps, and sometimes within a few hundred Kbps.
While a much more definitive explanation than since debunked rumors of deliberate upload caps, the glitch is another flaw for iPhone 4 users, which have faced antenna sensitivity problems regardless of the strength of their networks. Potential reception has gone up with the iPhone, but holding the phone left-handed or in another form that bridges the antennas can reduce or even kill the signal. Slow upload speeds could magnify the issue by rendering uploads unusable where they would still have worked in the past.