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My Mobile Network Failed Me When I Needed it Most

When I was in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January (2011), I experienced clogged mobile network traffic first-hand. My iPhone wouldn’t work properly and my laptop connection on the hotel network failed me as well.

After a full day of meetings, making videos and taking pictures, I was eager to get back to my room. When I tried emailing some photos from the conference with my iPhone, I noticed problems with the network. I transferred my photos to my laptop and tried to upload videos to our online video service provider, but the files kept crashing. When I resorted to our ftp site, the problems persisted. I tried to upload a 28.6 MB video for three and a half hours.

Mobile-network traffic problems during CES resulted from the sheer size of the crowd – 140,000 CES attendees, plus another 40,000 people in Las Vegas for another show. With traffic from smart phones, iPads and other mobile tablets hitting the Las Vegas networks at the same time, there just wasn’t enough wireless bandwidth for every user.

From my observation, most CES attendees owned an iPhone, so my iPhone problems made sense. Many people complained about their IPhones at the show and couldn’t understand why AT&T didn’t have extra wireless towers during that time to accommodate increased network traffic.

RootMetrics, a company that measures mobile wireless performance, was actually following data speeds at CES from Jan. 6 to 9. The report, “How did smartphone mobile data speeds at CES 2011 compare?” can be found at

According to the report, T-Mobile’s data network was the fastest 3G network during the show, while Verizon was second, followed by AT&T and then Sprint. For reliability, the report noted that Verizon delivered the best performance. Verizon’s daily access failure rates averaged less than 10 percent and, for three out of four days, recorded data access failures were at less than two percent.

Hopefully, AT&T will be able to fix this for me and every other attendee for next year’s show.