Optus 3G image recompression

The other day I noticed that webpages browsed to via my iPhone were looking a little strange. But then I loaded my own website, and all the images looked rubbish. I immediately contacted my mobile provider Optus, and they told me that there was absolutely no proxying or image re-compression going on.

Because I don’t often browse the web for extended periods via 3G (and I trusted Optus not to blatantly lie “be uninformed” when talking to me, I couldn’t be bothered further with it until I saw this thread on MacTalk: Optus re-compression of images over 3G.

So, I turned off WiFi, emptied my cache, and ran a test. The results are below, 3G browsing on the left, and then (after resetting my cache once again), WiFi browsing on the right. You be the judge.


Comparison1 (Click to view larger on Flickr.)

Now this is totally unacceptable for me, as images are everything when I work as a photographer. Why would I go to the length of fixing up my site to work nicely on the iPhone (and I presume later other smartphones and the iPad), if my images look like rubbish. I’d be glad to have a Flash-based site in that case; at least my clients wouldn’t get the wrong impression.

So, I’ll be chasing this up further with Optus. And if it affects you, I suggest you do as well. If this does affect you, feel free to contact me via @josh_m on twitter and let me know your experience. All for the sake of a few lousy kilobytes…


I ran a test on my wife’s iPhone. She doesn’t have this issue. I presume it somehow relates to having enabled tethering before?

Update – 25 May 2010:

Seems like this is a hot issue. I spoke to Ben Grubb from ZDNet Australia this morning, and my remarks are written up in this article: Optus 3G accelerator spawns blurry pics.  In hindsight though, I don’t think “blurry” is really the right word… the pictures look more like they’ve gone through a meat grinder. :)

Also, I still haven’t personally chased this further with Optus, beyond speaking with Scott from their social media team. Bigger things happening, but I will get back on the case in a few weeks.

On poor Spanish

Me: Since I left South America in my teen years, I’ve forgotten the vocab and never really learnt the words for adult conversations, such as for topics like politics and sport.
A native-Spanish speaker: Well, that doesn’t matter, because who wants to talk about those anyway?

To go with my iPhone discussion, I’ve uploaded a pic with all the applications I have on my phone. I’m often trying out new ones, but these are staying for a while.

Most apps are fairly self-explanatory from the icon and name.

I was having a water-cooler chat this morning with a friend, and he mentioned that while working in Scotland, for retail therapy he had once bought a kilt.

This encouraged me to go look up the Marshall tartan, with the result shown here.

Unfortunately Marshall isn’t a Scottish name, Northern England rather, and so this design was commissioned by an American company.

Oh well, now I know I can never be William Wallace.