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BLOG: Are smartphones choking the Internet?

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 25, 2011
The United Nations forecasts that network congestion is worsening and governments need to urgently act.

 They estimate that mobile broadband subscriptions will reach one billion in the first quarter of 2011, that’s by the end of March this year.

 “With ninety per cent of the world now covered by a mobile signal,” the ITU announcement said, “it is clear that mobile is a key tool to bridging the digital divide. By 2010, 73 per cent of total mobile cellular subscriptions were from the developing world.”

Government support needed

 The ITU has urged governments “not to limit market entry, not to tax broadband and related services too heavily, and to ensure ample availability of spectrum to support mobile broadband growth”.

The ITU statement said that, for the moment, alleviating the capacity crunch is leading operators to employ a range of strategies – from investment in WiFi networks and encouraging users to install their own femtocell devices, to tiered pricing to penalize heavy data users, and regulatory approaches that would ask incumbents to open access to their fibre networks to competitors to provide critical backhaul for mobile data traffic.
“In addition, more in-ground fibre is needed to move the growing volume of mobile data traffic from operators’ increasingly rapid radio access networks to their faster core networks, to optimize speed and call processing.

At present, the ITU said that most backhaul “is performed on standard telecommunications twisted copper pair loops, which offer top speeds of around 34Mbit/s. Carrier-grade fibre backbones are around 300 times faster, as well as being optimized for packet-based data traffic, rather than circuit-switched voice”.

This is definitely food for thought to challenge any view that the internet’s capacity is infinite.

What do you think?


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