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Apple has sold some 700 million iOS devices since 2007. Of that number, iOS 7 compatible devices comprise more than 155 million iPads (2nd generation onwards), a little over 350 million iPhone 4 or later, an unknown number of iPod Touch (5th generation) and Apple TVs (released 30 September for 2nd generation onwards).

The update can vary between 1-1.3GB and at its peak Apple.com traffic took 32% of total web traffic – no wonder the internet was slow last week. Users reported time outs and failed updates from 21 September to as late as 27 September.

There has been two patches already – 7.0.1 fixed some Touch ID issues and 7.0.2 (17MB) fixed the bypass Lock screen bug and a Safari crash bug. Apple has increased the over-the-air download limit now to 100MB, and that is going to hurt those on limited data allowances.

It is not just the iOS 7 update that can cruel internet speeds and access. Viral YouTube videos, streaming TV programs – especially sports (let’s hope 4K video takes a while to catch on), regular software patch days (including Windows 8.1 update from 18 October), school holiday kid driven traffic, and more, all visibly slow the internet. Apple perhaps should have predicted the extent of impact on the internet and looked at local caching and mirror sites instead of relying on its own servers. These days getting a disk is nearly impossible. All developers want to use auto-updating technology.

In Australia, it is worse because of its connection via a limited number of pipes to overseas nodes. You might say that data is Australia’s biggest import! At the iOS peak email and voice (which use small packet sizes) were severely disrupted, despite quality of service priority VoIP calls to Singapore or beyond reaching over 2,000 milliseconds (normally around 200-300) and packet loss was over 7%.


As a ‘techie type’, I often help friends repair broken PCs. My usual regimen is to do a clean install of Windows 7/8, and Office 2007 or later to be sure. I no longer do an XP/Office XP/2003 install because the update process is typically around two gigabytes and several hours. Even so, Windows 7/Office 2007/10 has over 1GB of patches and four to six hours over a 100mbps Telstra cable internet connection.

We are becoming so reliant on the internet for everything. While it is resilient and may not break any more (we hope), there is increasing evidence that it is not as reliable as we all thought.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!