Who's to blame for the iPhone 3G data speed snafu?

The people have spoken, and they say operators are to blame for the iPhone 3G's data speed issues, not Apple. An informal Wired.com study asked readers from across the globe to test their iPhone 3G speeds and submit their findings via interactive map--more than 2,600 iPhone users contributed to the poll, which determined that 3G outperforms EDGE in most cases, in some regions achieving data speeds seven times faster. But in other areas, 3G performed just as slowly as EDGE, and in still other regions, users couldn't even connect to 3G at all. While participants in Australia reported the slowest average 3G download speeds--about 759 Kbps--the vast majority of 0 Kbps speeds came from readers in the U.S., home to 63 of the 80 participants who reported network connection failures. Users in Germany and the Netherlands fared far better, reporting the fastest average 3G download speeds of about 2,000 Kbps.

Other findings of the Wired.com report: European T-Mobile subscribers reported the fastest 3G download speeds--1,822 Kbps on average--with Canadian operator Rogers Wireless and its Fido subsidiary in second at 1,330 Kbps on average. AT&T, Telstra, Telia and Softbank all tied for third with average download speeds of about 990 Kbps, and Australian operators Optus and Virgin brought up the rear at just 390 Kbps on average. The study adds that even in major metropolitan areas, service is spotty at best: Ten of 30 participants from the San Francisco area reported 3G speeds almost as slow as EDGE.

The good news for Apple: The Wired.com study strongly suggests its hardware is not to blame for the iPhone 3G's problems. The bad news for Apple: This is not an issue that's going away anytime soon, or a dilemma the computing giant can solve by means of a software update. The responsibility rests with its operator partners. Of course, tell that Alabama resident Jessica Alena Smith, who last week filed a lawsuit claiming the iPhone's 3G performance and reliability have failed to measure up to claims made by Apple in its marketing campaign. The iPhone 3G may be slow, but the public relations debacle is definitely picking up speed. -Jason