iPhone 4S & Siri Double Carrier Network Load

| News

A network research firm has found that the iPhone 4S doubles the network load for data compared to the iPhone 4. New network services like Siri are the source.

In addition, “Data usage of the previous model, the iPhone 4, was only 1.6 times higher than the iPhone 3G, while iPad 2 tablets consumed 2.5 times more data than the iPhone 3G, the study showed,” according to Reuters.

In the smartphone era, wireless operators have always been just a littler shorter on bandwidth than they would like. New network services and especially Siri, which uploads the voice query to Apple servers and handles the response, continue to press the networks to the limits and have forced carriers to imposes extra charges or limitations. Even Sprint’s “unlimited” plan has limits.


This could be one reason why Apple has delayed the introduction of Siri on the iPad 2, which has the same A5 processor and iOS version the iPhone. That is, to comply with carrier requests for more time to upgrade their networks.

According to the report from the telecom network technology company, Arieso, mobile data usage has doubled each year since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Reuters reported that wireless operators are reluctant to reveal the extent of the data congestion problems that most are experiencing. LTE will help, but operators may still have to apply throttles to their heaviest users for the good of the network.



Attributing it to Siri doesn’t make a lot of sense. Upstream, Siri is presumably sending highly-compressed voice, and downstream receiving text and simple commands to be passed on to apps. So it’s hard to see how it could be consuming that much data. Ars Technica’s measurements agree with this expectation

So why are iPhone 4s owners using more data? Originally, the iPhone was managed via a wired link to a computer running iTunes. All owners of previous models are used to doing this. But with iOS 5, which was introduced together with the iPhone 4s, Apple has cut the cord—you can use iTunes if you want, but you don’t need to. You can buy apps, backup your iPhone, and install OS updates wirelessly. Likewise, you no longer need to load the music you want to listen to onto your iPhone from iTunes; Apples iMatch service will stream your entire collection to you wirelessly. Most new iPhone 4s owners likely availed themselves of this option, while owners of older models are likely to be slower in transitioning to the untethered mode of life, and thus are still getting much of their data over wired ethernet or wifi.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account