Mobile
Commentary
2/5/2010
12:04 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
50%
50%

iPad To Bring Down Cellular Networks?

Networks have been dealing with ever increasing data usage by customers with smartphones, particularly AT&T as the sole iPhone provider in the US. Now government officials are concerned that the iPad may actually threaten the national infrastructure.

Networks have been dealing with ever increasing data usage by customers with smartphones, particularly AT&T as the sole iPhone provider in the US. Now government officials are concerned that the iPad may actually threaten the national infrastructure.International Business has statements made by Phil Bellaria, the director of scenario planning for the federal government's Omnibus Broadband Initiative. Mr. Bellaria said:

"With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn't choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband's ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy."

He drew an interesting analogy, saying that the iPad could cause AT&T to experience outages reminiscent of the mid-90's when AOL allowed unlimited dial up. I had already moved on to a pure ISP by then, but I had a number of friends and co-workers that were unable to get online for days at a time, and even when they could get on, they risked getting knocked off during their session.

I'm doubtful conditions could get that bad. Apparently AT&T is more confident in their network's capabilities. Eric Zeman wrote yesterday that they allowing iPhone users to use the Slingbox service on the 3G network now.

Still, I'm not seeing a lot of reports that AT&T's woes are behind it. I don't see a national crisis in the making, but I can see frustration levels grow for current AT&T subscribers as precious bandwidth has to be shared with another device that will likely demand more data per device than the iPhone does.

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