The iPhone over the last couple of years has accelerated the trend towards Smartphones by mainstream wireless users in the U.S., both through it's innovation and the intense competitive response by other manufacturers to introduce smartphones with iPhone like features. The bad news though, as this New York Times article explains, is that the nation's patchwork of voice and data wireless networks, be they 2G, 3G or something else, are still striving to keep up with this trend:
"Oh, the things modern mobile phones can do. They are music-playing, video-taking, direction-providing multimedia powerhouses. But many people have trouble getting them to perform their most basic functions, like making phone calls.
The underlying problem, industry analysts say, is the complex quilt of the nation’s wireless networks. The major mobile carriers have spent tens of billions of dollars on new voice and data networks that they advertise as superfast wireless express lanes. But analysts say these upgrades present major engineering challenges, and the networks often underperform.
The resulting technological glitches have given many owners of fancy new phones the urge to throw them out the window and onto the highway.
"...The reasons for the trouble are complicated. Part of the problem is that the companies are constantly upgrading their networks — creating a patchwork of technology on cell towers, and integrating slices of radio spectrum that carry voice and data transmissions.
Analysts said the problem was not unique to AT&T, but was especially pronounced on its network in some cities because of the way its infrastructure was built."
The article then goes on to detail the many geeky ways this state of affairs contributes to many problems for users.
While most of these issues will be sorted out in due time, it's still occasionally worth pondering about the potholes on the wireless highway today.