Survey says slow iPhone 3G speeds may be due to carriers

Complaints about the iPhone 3G’s networking speeds—or, more appropriately, lack thereof—have been floating around ever since the phone’s release last month. We even did a little testing of our own and established that the results varied widely depending on geopgrahic location.

Now, the fine folks over at Wired (led by none other than former Macworld editor Brian X. Chen) have taken it a step further, compiling a global survey of iPhone users’ experiences with their network connectivity. What did the big W find? Well, they’ve concluded, as we did, that 3G speeds do fluctuate broadly, and that those differences seem largely to fall at the feet of not the iPhone itself, but to the carriers.

Among the tidbits that Wired gleans from their admittedly unscientific results are that Australia suffers from the lowest average network speeds (around 759 kbps) while Germany and the Netherlands benefited from the highest (around 2,000 kbps). The United States, unfortunately, had the largest number of instances in which phones registered 0 for their speeds, presumably because they were dropped from the 3G network while performing the test (though it's also worth noting that the U.S. had far and away the most number of participants as well).

Wired also found that metropolitan areas that usually have the highest 3G saturation are often slow due to overloaded towers and that T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest average speeds (1,822 kbps), followed by Canada’s Rogers and Fido, and a four way tie for third between AT&T, Telstra, Telia, and SoftBank.

There’s much more at the link above, including the raw data that Wired compiled, but the takeaway here seems to be that it’s not going to be Apple that fixes the iPhone’s problems but its partners—meaning we could be in for a long haul of 3G annoyances as the companies slowly update their respective networks.

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