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Tuesday, August 26, 2008, 07:45 am PT (10:45 am ET)

Orange admits to capping 3G speeds in France

Following an uproar on the part of disgruntled iPhone customers, French wireless carrier Orange will reportedly raise an unpublicized cap on 3G download speeds next month.

The exclusive iPhone service provider in France began feeling the heat of irate iPhone 3G customers after several of them began comparing their download speeds on an internet forum with those achieved by users in neighboring countries.

In particular, they found that iPhone users on Germany's T-Mobile network — recently cited as the best performing 3G network by iPhone users — were routinely able to achieve download speeds of 1800Kbps, while those on France's Orange network struggled to reach a mere 400Kbps.

Calls began pouring into Orange's technical support lines. In some of these cases, technicians voluntarily altered the APN (Access Point Name) and other parameters tied to subscribers' iPhones. The result was a dramatic increase in speed for most of those subscribers, with some reporting that their speeds suddenly surged in excess of 3Mbps.

Almost immediately, iPhone 3G users discarded the notion of flaws in the Apple handset's hardware and began suspecting Orange of intentionally capping 3G download speeds. Many were furious, arguing that artificial limitation was in direct violation of the service agreements shared between the carrier and its iPhone customers, which theoretically should have allowed HSDPA speeds approaching 7.2Mbps. A petition was also formed.


A video comparing an uncapped iPhone 3G to an capped iPhone 3G on the Orange network


When contacted by FranceInfo, an Orange representative reportedly confirmed that that the carrier has been deliberately limiting speeds for all 3G capable phones on its network to 384Kbps, saying the move was aimed at 'preserving the stability of the network.'

Following a meeting on Monday at its Paris headquarters, Orange said it will raise the download cap for iPhone users from 384Kbps to 1Mbps by September 15th.