June 11, 2008

the mobile experience: AT&T Network Load Test

This week, I have been out in Chicago attending the Internet Retailer conference at the McCormick's Center (West). Part of the challenge with any tradeshow or conference is getting internet access. With thousands of attendees jumping on the same free WiFi network, its almost impossible to get a solid connection. I figured that I have a secret weapon this time, my trusty N95-3 and AT&T's 3G unlimited data package. Little did I realize, when you have thousands of people within the same exhibit space, the 850/1900MHz bandwidth will be pushed to its max. This year's conference, there were a total of 5,000 attendees and that doesn't even include the organizers as well as the exhibitors.

I assume AT&T customers were probably at least accounting for 2,000. During the peak moments (in between sessions) not only was I not able to connect to the UMTS (3.5G) internet, I wasn't even able to place a voice call or check my voicemail. The only way to get a hold of me was to use SMS text. When I was able to sign on, I was only able to connect via EDGE at best.

This mobile experience introduced a whole new dimension of today's mobile world. I am uncertain if the CDMA folks panned out a little better but one of the vendors I spoke with did mention his CDMA laptop card was choppy throughout the entire show. I guess under severe load, mobile broadband can still use a little boost.

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