Apple, Apple, Apple.

Why have you saddled the most innovative mobile device of the decade with the worst possible wireless network in the world? Why?

EDGE was bad enough. Really bad, actually. Historically bad. So bad it made me pine for Verizon. I mean, come on.

The hope, the dream, was that Apple would someday magically make the iPhone available via superior US-based wireless networks. Which is to say, any of them but AT&T. But since that won't happen, we've instead turned our focus to 3G, as if 3G is 3G is 3G.

It isn't.

The problem isn't speed. Apparently, AT&T's 3G network is fast, even faster than the competition.

That is, if you can get it.

The problem is that AT&T's 3G solution is barely available anywhere in the US. If you don't live in a major city, you won't get it. And that means you'll be stuck in EDGE hell. Assuming you can even get a connection at all.

AT&T maintains a list of places that get 3G coverage in the US. It's really short. My town doesn't qualify. (Fortunately for Apple, certain iCabal reviewers for major US newspapers do qualify, so they can write their typically glowing reviews as required by the mothership and just ignore this issue entirely as usual.)

For a more dramatic look at this problem, consider the following map of the US:

The blue areas are where AT&T's 3G network actually works. Note that these areas are few and far between. If you live in some states, like Nebraska, Wyoming, or Montana (among others), you won't ever get 3G access. Unless you move. I guess you can add that cost to the cost of acquiring an iPhone 3G.

Here's the thing. I love the iPhone. But everyone who knows me personally now has an "iPhone has failed us" story. The many times I've been riding on the train in Boston, for example, and dozens of people are tapping away on their phones while I stare at my iPhone and its utter lack of wireless access. The times I've tried to get sports scores and waited ... waited ... waited while the page loaded, only to have someone else in the room just call someone they know to get the score immediately. It's an ongoing joke for everyone who's seen me use the thing, and it will continue to be a joke after the iPhone 3G hits.

Hopefully, AT&T will continue upgrading their networks to address this issue. Hopefully.

But in the meantime, AT&T, you are. the. weakest. link.

And you are the only serious reason that I can see to avoid the iPhone 3G.

This needs to be fixed.

Thanks to Tristan Louis for pointing me to the AT&T 3G info.