An AT&T employee who works on Operations tells us that the carrier ordered a last-minute beefing up of its EDGE throughput, latency and coverage in anticipation of the iPhone. The operation, internally referenced as "Fine Edge" will continue until June 15th, and has been going on for as many as 6 weeks.
EDGE is slow, but at least at AT&T, the implementation isn't limited by the protocol itself. Rather, the limiting factor is, according to our source, the data backend and the way the towers are configured to allocate bandwidth to data and calls. And according to an internal doc, they're dropping in more T-1s in their poorest performing towers, hoping to get that paltry 40kbps performance to a new minimum of 80kpbs. (EDGE's real world max is about 200kbps.) That's still painfully slow, but we're not ones to look a gift WWAN upgrade in the mouth.
Before "Fine EDGE" and the iPhone, most efforts were going towards building out AT&T's 3G. The upgrades hopefully will make the neglected 2.5 infrastructure better, but maybe its just to keep the whole thing from going down when all the fanboys start browsing on June 29th. Of course, these upgrades will help all EDGE handsets.
This is kind of sad — we wouldn't find ourselves scrounging for kbs if we'd gotten 3G in generation one.
[Tipsters are my BFF]