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Top three mobile application threats

Users of Apple's new iPad are experiencing Wi-Fi issues, with some claiming to have found a new grip of death. Meanwhile, those opting for LTE are discovering just how expensive the alternative is.

The Wi-Fi problems are sporadic, but numerous owners of the new iPad report putting it next to their laptops and finding the signal strength to be notably less on the iPad. But some of those who opt to use 4G cellular instead, as available in the USA, are finding the new connectivity rather more expensive than they had hoped.

There's no word from Apple, but buyers have taken to the Apple Forums to voice their disgust, and compare notes on working solutions. Holding the iPad by the bottom corners seems to worsen the problem, and some users seem to have coaxed better performance by resetting their network connections, but many are accepting that it's a hardware problem and have switched to cellular connectivity instead, which does seem to be performing – perhaps rather too well.

The Wall Street Journal has been talking to some of those who've popped their data cap, seeing just how easily it can happen. The paper reports one chap who found the Wi-Fi in his local café to be too choppy for streaming video, so switched it off in preference for LTE and managed to burn through 2GB of data in less than a week, prompting him, and lots of others, to consider upgrading their plan.

Users of the new iPad in the USA are finding 4G speeds topping out between 5 and 6Mb/s during the day, but say they are achieving almost double that off-peak. That's easily comparable to the ADSL speeds most of us enjoy, and is creating use cases which are remarkable in their profligate consumption of bandwidth.

Another example, highlighted by the WSJ, saw a chap buying his iPad on Friday and then spending a couple of hours watching college basketball (with the iPad apparently mounted on his dashboard!) which was enough to hit the limits. More remarkable was the chap's mother, who sat in the living room while her new iPad streamed video of the sleeping baby in the room next door, via the AT&T cellular network.

In the UK the new iPad won't have 4G – our frequency map is so different that it will take another generation of iPad at least – but even at top-speed 3G connection (headlined at 42Mb/sec, though only Three has that technology in place right now) could (in theory) burn through a 15GB data allowance in less than an hour.

Verizon makes the point that LTE networks literally consume more data, particularly when streaming video. Modern video codecs alter the amount of compression based on the speed of connection, and mobile operators are very guilty of layering their own compression on top, so the same dancing cat video might be twice the size on an LTE network, without the user being aware how quickly their cap is approaching.

That's good news for the carriers who, for the first time, aren't being accused of failing to provide enough bandwidth; all those the WSJ spoke to are considering upgrading their data allowance instead. That's enough to push anyone onto Wi-Fi, assuming they can get a signal, and aren't holding their new iPad the "wrong" way. ®

Top three mobile application threats

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