AT&T said a software defect in Alcatel-Lucent’s network equipment is causing slow uplink speeds for some of its smartphone and laptop customers with 3G HSUPA devices, including those using the iPhone 4.
The glitch affects less than two percent of AT&T’s wireless customer base and is only triggered “under certain conditions,” the carrier said. The problem affects customers in markets where it uses Alcatel-Lucent equipment; AT&T uses Ericsson to power its 3G network in other markets.
“While Alcatel-Lucent develops the appropriate software fix, we are providing normal 3G uplink speeds and consistent performance for affected customers with HSUPA-capable devices,” AT&T said in a statement.
The software is part of a string of issues that AT&T has had to deal with in recent weeks. Pre-orders for the iPhone 4 crashed the carrier’s website in June, the e-mail addresses and ICC IDs of 140,000 iPad 3G customers were released by hackers who cracked AT&T’s poorly secured Web application, and there have been complaints about the signal strength on the iPhone 4, which Apple seems to be partially blaming on AT&T.
AT&T is working to battle public perception of its network, which has been burdened by the massive amount of traffic generated by smartphones, most notably the iPhone. Nationwide data traffic on AT&T’s has grown by more than 5,000 percent over the past three years.
The carrier upgraded its nationwide 3G network to HSPA 7.2 earlier this year and is working to roll out fiber backhaul to cell sites to support the upgrade. Faster 3G speeds are scheduled to become available this year and in 2011 as the backhaul deployment progresses. AT&T says it will roll out HSPA+ later this year.