Broadband blockage caused by smart phone explosion
December 30th, 2009

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece today reports that AT&T had to block orders through its Web site for a while last week as apparently holiday traffic mobbed its network. The report has interesting facts on the smart phone explosion now underway, along with some thoughts on what might be done about the resulting broadband crowding:

AT&T previously acknowledged that its network has been overwhelmed by iPhone users in New York and San Francisco, where dropped connections and long waits for running programs are not uncommon. These data-hungry cell phones compete for bandwidth with broadcast TV, radio and Wi-Fi networks, and wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon say that they’re running out of capacity.

We’re told that the situation in New York City over the weekend had mostly to do with AT&T underestimating iPhone demand. But unless policies for allocating spectrum become more conducive to new technologies, turning away potential customers could become more frequent.

The reality is that the demand for mobile broadband is exploding, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and rivals like the Palm Pre, the Blackberry and Verizon’s Droid. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the use of smart phones has grown by nearly 700% the past four years, and mobile data are increasing at a projected rate of 130% annually as more people use their phones to send photos and watch videos. . . .

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