AT&T is under fire from consumer groups and the media for not fulfilling its promise on 4G uplink speeds for some its of supposed 4G devices.
The blogosphere and mainstream media are up in arms over the supposed 4G technology that carriers AT&T and T-Mobile are deploying. The claim is that not only are the speeds not “4G-worthy,” they are not even as fast as the 3G networks being deployed.
AT&T has been the target of most of the scorn because it has more or less admitted to capping the uplink speeds in its High Speed Uplink Packet Access on some of its non-iPhone 4 devices with the 4G label, such as the Motorola Atrix and the HTC Inspire.
HSPA+ as a standard is split between uplink (HSUPA) and downlink (HSDPA). So far the current controversy surrounding AT&T only has to do with the uplink portion of the standard.
PCMag.com did an uplink speed test between the iPhone 4, Atrix and Inspire last week using an application from Ookla called SpeedTest. They hooked all three phones up through the same server and performed the test six times in New York City. The test showed that the iPhone was getting uplink speeds closer to what HSPA+ is capable of while the Atrix and Inspire had speeds closer to the Univeral Mobile Telecommunications System that AT&T uses for its “3G” network.
There are variables that could affect the test, such as device radios and processors and interaction with the server PCMag used, so take the results as interesting but perhaps not definitive.
Technology blog Engadget has been following the AT&T “HSUPA-gate” and found that the carrier has “not turned on” HSUPA for most of its devices outside of the iPhone 4. That would affect all of its Android devices, such as the Atrix, Inspire and the Samsung Captivate (disclaimer – that is the phone that I carry; it also was on the cover of the December 2010 GCN print issue for our “Best Products Of 2010.”)
Specifically, according to Engadget, AT&T requires that all of its devices “handshake” with Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 5, which does not support HSPA. The iPhone has been allowed to connect through Release 6, which does support HSPA.
AT&T has not denied that its 4G network using HSPA+ is not actually using its so-called 4G technology. It has merely said that it has not “turned on” HSPA+ for devices like the Atrix. The accusation leveled against the carrier is that it is “capping” uplink speeds on these devices. AT&T released a statement denying that it was capping uplinks on any devices.
From AT&T on CNET.com:
as we have touched on before at GCN,