When the first iPod was released, six years ago, the first Slashdot reaction read, "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame." The early reviews of the iPhone are in and they're very positive for Apple's contribution. The device itself, despite some flaws, is brilliant. But the critics are not quite as generous towards AT&T's contribution-- the voice and data cell network. Here's a handy scorecard from Valleywag
In the WSJ, Walt Mossberg writes, "The iPhone has a major drawback: the cellphone network it uses. It only works with AT&T… it uses a pokey network called EDGE, which is far slower than the fastest networks from Verizon or Sprint that power many other smart phones."
The NY Times's David Pogue: "Then there’s the Internet problem. When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, going online is fast and satisfying. But otherwise, you have to use AT&T’s ancient EDGE cellular network, which is excruciatingly slow. The New York Times’s home page takes 55 seconds to appear; Amazon.com, 100 seconds; Yahoo. two minutes. You almost ache for a dial-up modem."
But I'm not sure what the big problem is. After all, under the FCC's definition, AT&T's 300 kbps EDGE network qualifies as broadband. For the last 12 years, the Commission has continued to define a broadband connection as one capable of 200 kbps or more in one direction.
A new report released this week from the Communications Workers of America finds that the US has fallen out of the first tier of connectivity. "The median download speed for the 50 states and the District of Columbia was 1.9 megabits per second (mbps). In Japan, the median download speed is 61 mbps, or 30 times faster than the U.S. The U.S. also trails South Korea at 45 mbps, Finland at 21 mbps, Sweden at 18 mbps, and Canada at 7.6 mbps."
If upload speeds (which is what individuals use when speaking, sending and publishing to the rest of the internet) were averaged in, the US would fall even further behind, as most cable and DSL broadband connections are asymmetrical. The median upload speed for internet users in the US is 371 kbps-- only 19% as fast as the median download speed. Broadband connections in the US are deployed for consumption, not speech. If the FCC definition were modified to require the paltry 200 kbps connection speed in both directions, many US broadband connections would no longer be classified to be broadband.