A look at an important relationship for your smartphone - networks and manufacturers

Published by Ewan Spence at 23:29 UTC, July 19th 2010

The relationship between the network and manufacturer has always been one of the more opaque areas in the history of the mobile phone – and as the demands of modern smartphones push the capacity of the networks, the discussions and bartering on both sides continue behind closed doors. Which sometime open a little bit. Wired author Fred Vogelstein has posted a detailed look at the marriage of AT&T and Apple. See below for a quote.

Yes, this is a very American viewpoint, Apple is likely to have many one of a kind caveats, but this is still a fascinating look at the back room deals, discussions and egos that make up a vital link in the smartphone chain.

"Almost as soon as the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, the carrier realized it might run short of bandwidth… Of course AT&T was planning to upgrade its network to handle the increased demand, Rinne’s team told Apple executives, but that was going to take years. In the meantime, would Apple take measures to help throttle back the traffic? Perhaps Apple could restrict its YouTube app to run only over Wi-Fi. Maybe the iPhone could feature a smaller, lower-resolution videostream or cut off YouTube videos after one minute. Rinne, who had already met with Apple’s iPhone team at least half a dozen times, fully expected the company to play along. After all, manufacturers agreed to such restrictions all the time."

Interesting to see that AT&T were asking for handset restrictions and expected these to be waved through. Considering what some firmwares have appeared on network branded devices, this isn’t going to come as a surprise to long term smartphone users. What is interesting is the question of how much of this is the US carrier dominance throwing weight around and being an extreme case, and how much is standard practice throughout the world.

The full article is online at Wired.

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