Apple and US Carriers Allegedly Slow Down the Data Speed of iDevices

After analyzing data from each major US wireless operator’s network settings files inside the iPhone and iPad, Joseph Brown of iTweakiOS has found (via iClarified) that Apple and US carriers AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are intentionally throttling the data speeds of iDevices.

AT&T 3G Throttle

AT&T LTE Throttling

The snapshots provided by the hacker reveal, according to Brown, that the AT&T iPhone 5 is limited to Category 10 HSDPA (14.4 Mbps), despite the network being capable of Category 14 HSDPA+ (21.1 Mbps). The iPhone 5 officially supports up to category 24 DC-HSDPA+ (42.2 Mbps).

“But, why would they do this?” you may ask. Well, every single reason as to why is simply something we can’t answer. However, from previous statements released by AT&T and many tech orginizations, iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS. The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to “even out” the network, even if it means Galaxy users out perform Apple devices by such large scales. But, even then, does that make it fair? Absolutely not. If the carrier can’t supply the amount of bandwidth needed on their network to cater to the customer, then they simply have no business even being a carrier to begin with, let alone offering such a device on their network if they claim it has to be limited for it to be fair to everyone. The fact is, its both Apple’s and the carrier’s responsibility to work these kind of issues out, yet they don’t seem to be too interested in that.

Brown is the developer behind the Hacked Carrier Updates available for iDevices running the four big US carriers.

His report details each throttling parameter that he has spotted in the carrier settings files of both Verizon and Sprint, and his findings also reveal that T-Mobile doesn’t specify throttling settings.

As he points out, Apple is able to lift these restrictions, but to free their device from throttling, users can install the hacked carrier updates. Here are his key findings:

-AT&T limits HSPA+ and permanently throttles LTE (unless hack is applied)
-Verizon permanently throttles LTE (unless hack is applied)
-Verizon and Sprint throttle down 3G (unless hack is applied)
-Apple has band preferences set for T-Mobile and AT&T causing signal issues (very much fixable by Apple and the carrier and is currently being looked into, from I’ve been told)

Speaking with iClarified Brown said:

When we asked Brown if he was sure the throttled network settings weren’t only there for users who’d exceeded their limits, he said, “I’m very positive. I’ve heard of “network controls” or “soft throttles” being put into place on devices before.”

“The iPhone 5 I tested the other day was brand new. No LTE data used, so it wasn’t being throttled,” Brown told iClarified. “The 1st test was 13mbps down and 9mbps up. The 2nd was 17mbps (almost 18) down and 11mbps up.” He notes that the test “was conducted around the same time frame and in the exact same spot of the house.”

Have you noticed a speed difference on the same network between an iPhone versus another handset? Let us know in your comments.

[You can download Hacked Carrier Updates for Canadian carriers from here]

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • xxxJDxxx

    Would this affect unlocked iPhones bought from Apple directly? Also do we know if this is happening in Canada?

  • tcatcrb

    I’d be interested in knowing if this is going on in Canada too

  • Julflan

    My son uses a Galaxy and is ALWAYS bragging how his is faster! I never understood why as we are both on the Bell network in Canada.

  • A-man

    It is indeed – Canada updates provided…

    http://www.itweakios.com/apps/blog/

  • A-Man

    For Canadian updates – check out the page at…

    http://www.itweakios.com/apps/blog/

  • ftheroux

    I just loaded the Rogers specific profile.

    Using the Speedtest.net app from the exact same location only about 5 minutes apart, both upload and download speeds have increased by about 3Mbps to the highest speeds I have ever recorded in downtown Montreal (16Mbps down, and 11Mbps up).

  • Are you still getting faster speeds with this Rogers profile?

  • ftheroux

    Yes. I even got some better results. 18Mbps down.