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Is Mobile Data Going to Clog The Tubes?



Maybe we should call a plumber.

There’s an interesting post on Mobile Opportunity about how the continued move to mobile data might run into infrastructure problems, simply because there’s more data moving than the existing frameworks can handle, or soon will be.

This comes on the heels of both YouTube and Facebook squaring off recently by adding HD video to their respective services, as well as what appears to be an ever increasing desire from consumers to suck in as much content as they possibly can on their mobile devices. Increased usage apparently is creating an overload on some networks. We’ve certainly seen seen carriers moving to cap usage and I’m sure those efforts will only continue. But in an age where old media bastions are feeling the pinch from Internet outlets, and mobile device operators are apparently being successful in creating demand for even more, could it be trouble ahead?

It all begs the question, why, if the carriers and providers hoped to create this kind of business model were they not ready for the apparently explosive growth?   Check out this quote:

This increased activity is creating an uncomfortable problem for some mobile operators: it’s apparently overloading their networks. There have been predictions for years that this could happen — a report from 2005 pointed out that the typical 3G network would be overloaded if 40% of subscribers used video just eight minutes a day (link). It predicted potential traffic overload by 2007.

The article goes on to say that the real stresses and difficulties are tough to determine because those who control the pipes don’t like to talk about it openly, and says transparency is the best option. I wouldn’t count on that.



  1. aswfreak12

    12/08/2008 at 8:49 am

    Seems Apple’s marketing skills are a double edged sword! I wonder if the iPhone is allowed to transmit cellular data through wifi? Seems like that would be the next logical step by increasing the amount of hotspots so the load is more dispersed.

  2. Stuart

    12/08/2008 at 12:32 pm

    Mobile broadband should not “clog the pipes” but should drive the business in the future. The telcos only need to put the right price and package plans to make sure they are able to handle the surge that is sure to come. As people will own multiple mobile devices that will need internet access they can make a bundle off of each subscriber. Mobile broadband on phones, mobile broadband on laptops, mobile broadband in vehicles (with GPS). If giant telcos like ATT and Verizon can’t prepare for more internet subscribers when they also offer landline-based internet then they are really blind. I can’t see them being that short-sighted.

  3. GoodThings2Life

    12/08/2008 at 12:53 pm

    Well, in spite of the frustration voiced by Senator Stevens a few years ago now, if gambling and porn haven’t clogged the tubes yet, I think it’s safe to say the tubes will be fine. :)

  4. GoodThings2Life

    12/08/2008 at 12:56 pm

    PS– In spite of my joke, I do think that infrastructure planners should always be looking to expand their networks and “pipelines”, but I don’t think we’re ever going to see a large-scale clog.

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