iPhone 3G network issues frustrating early adopters

iPhone 3G users around the world are reporting problems with signal strength and quality of service on their new handsets, but no specific issues have been identified.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Are you having network problems with your iPhone 3G? Apple

Network problems appear to be frustrating iPhone 3G users in their first two weeks with the phone.

A huge thread on Apple's discussion boards has sprung up related to problems that iPhone 3G users say they are experiencing with AT&T's network, and I received several e-mails from CNET readers following last week's Ask the Editors session reporting similar problems. It's not clear at the moment exactly what is causing the issue, but it has some iPhone 3G early adopters up in arms.

The most common complaint seems to be poor reception in areas that are known to have a strong 3G signal. AT&T's 3G network is not nearly as pervasive as its EDGE one, but its Web site claims that 3G coverage is available in large cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, as well as smaller metropolitan areas like Sacramento, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and Hartford, Conn.

Still, dozens of posters are complaining about poor coverage and dropped calls, and about advice from customer service representatives to turn off the 3G connection to prevent the problems--thereby taking away the primary reason most of them bought the thing.

A CNET reader in Chicago wrote in to report poor coverage in downtown Chicago. "In addition to the low bars, the signal seems to fluctuate sometimes going from 3 bars to "No Service" and then staying in the "No Service" mode for some time. When driving to and from work on Lake Shore Drive (a major road in the heart of Chicago), my call drops multiple times when in 3G."

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the company has not noticed any issues specific to the iPhone 3G or its 3G networks that might be causing the problems. He noted that wireless coverage depends on a wide variety of factors, such as your proximity to the access point or the materials used in various buildings.

However, the problem doesn't seem to be contained within the U.S. iPhone 3G users in the U.K., Germany, and Australia are also reporting problems with 3G connectivity in their countries, and no one seems to know what is causing the issues in those areas.

If you're running into this problem, please let us know, and if we hear anything from Apple we'll post an update. An e-mail to two Apple representatives Wednesday morning was not immediately returned.

In the meantime, Ben Wilson over at our sister site iPhone Atlas has some tips for boosting the signal of your iPhone 3G while we wait to see if the issues can be corrected with a firmware update, or whether more drastic steps are required.