How to Speed Up Data Access on Your iPhone

By Art Reisman

Art Reisman CTO

Editor’s note: Art Reisman is the CTO of APconnections. APconnections designs and manufactures the popular NetEqualizer bandwidth shaper.

Ever wonder if there was anything you can do to make your iPhone access a little bit faster?

When on Your Provider’s 4g Network and Data Access is Slow.

The most likely reason for slow data access is congestion on the provider line. 3g and 4g networks all have a limited sized pipe from the nearest tower back to the Internet. It really does not matter what your theoretical data speed is, when there are more people using the tower than the back-haul pipe can handle, you can temporarily lose service, even when your phone is showing three or four bars.

The other point of contention can be the amount of users connected to a tower exceeds the the towers carrying capacity in terms of frequency.  If this occurs you likely will not only lose data connectivity but also the ability to make and receive phone calls.

Unfortunately, you only have a couple of options in this situation.

– If you are in a stadium with a large crowd, your best bet is to text during the action. Pick a time when you know the majority of people are not trying to send data. If you wait for a timeout or end of the game, you’ll find this corresponds to the times when the network slows to a crawl, so try to finish your access before the last out of the game or the end of the quarter.

Get away from the area of congestion. I have experienced complete lockout of up to 30 minutes, when trying to text, as a sold out stadium emptied out. In this situation my only chance was to walk about 1/2 mile or so from the venue to get a text out. Once away from the main stadium, my iPhone connected to a tower with a different back haul away from the congested stadium towers.

When connected to a local wireless network and access is slow.

Get close to the nearest access point.

Oftentimes, on a wireless network, the person with the strongest signal wins. Unlike the cellular data network , 802.11  protocols used by public wireless access points have no way to time-slice data access. Basically, this means the device that talks the loudest will get all the bandwidth. In order to talk the loudest, you need to be closest to the access point.

On a relatively uncrowded network you might have noticed that you get fairly good speed even on a moderate or weak signal.  However, when there are a large number of users competing for the attention of a local access point, the loudest have the ability to dominate all the bandwidth, leaving nothing for the weaker iPhones. The phenomenon of the loudest talker getting all the bandwidth is called the hidden node problem. For a good explanation of the hidden node issue you can reference our white paper on the problem.

Shameless plug: If you happen to be a provider or know somebody that works for a provider please tell them to call us and we’d be glad to explain the simplicity of equalizing and how it can restore sanity to a congested network.

5 Responses to “How to Speed Up Data Access on Your iPhone”

  1. Zack Sanders Says:

    Good post. For the iPhone, I have also found that switching from 3G to Edge helps me get data through. It’s a little slower, but works. Settings -> General -> Network and turn 3G off.

  2. Ben Whitaker Says:

    Nice work with this SWAT method. This applies to all WiFi devices, not just iPhones used in the example. Here in central-city Jakarta, we keep phones locked on WCDMA-only and typically get HSPA+ around 3-7Mbit. 2.5Gbyte quota , monthly cost $10 a month. I also use NetOK, a tool that sits in your notifications bar and gives green-yellow-red readings for cellular network latency each second. That constant pinging also keeps the connection open and lively. I’d also comment that any serious network engineer should be sporting Android and not an iPhone. There is a wonderful and staggering array of very serious network engineering tools on Android. Locked-down iOS does not grant developer access to the needed interfaces.

  3. The Wireless Density Problem | NetEqualizer News Blog Says:

    […] How to speed up access on your Iphone […]

  4. Charles Warwick Says:

    Very informative!
    Never knew why I was experiencing temporary glitches on my Samsung s5
    I always thought I was doing something wrong, unknowingly. Thanks

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