Livin’ on the Edge

On Tuesday, June 28, for four hours in the evening, AT&T lost 3G connectivity in South Florida. You can read about the outage here:

I was home when the outage started, and my wife and I quickly figured out that we were not part of an isolated outage. We tried calling other AT&T users from our home line, only to hear the recorded message, “The wireless subscriber you’re trying to reach….”

In this situation, it’s important to remember that your iPhone can connect to many different types of signals. This particular outage only affected AT&T’s 3G network. On your iPhone, you can go to Settings > General > Network and turn 3G on and off. 

3G is a wonderfully quick data connection that makes downloading podcasts, loading emails, sending picture messages, and everything else on your iPhone happen. When you turn 3G off, your iPhone connects to AT&T’s EDGE network. The EDGE network could also be referred to as 2.5G, but that’s just not catchy.

Back in 2008, when the iPhone 3G was released, many iPhone users regularly would toggle the 3G connectivity on and off. Users would turn on 3G for downloading and web surfing, but turn it off when they weren’t actively using the phone. As Apple has further upgraded the hardware and software, iPhones have gotten better at using 3G without draining the battery, so many people have never needed to turn their 3G connectivity off.

Hopefully AT&T’s network will improve, and these dropped calls and poor coverage and random outages will be a thing of the past. A year ago, long before the Verizon iPhone was announced, Steve Jobs was interviewed at the All Things Digital conference (a very cool conference, and they put tons of videos up… Check out their Mark Zuckerberg interview from the same conference, it’s very interesting) and he said, “things, when you start to fix them, get worse before they get better. That’s what I’m told. And if you believe that, things should start getting a lot better soon.” That was a year ago. By this logic, things are going to be unbelievable.

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