Cellphone traffic turning into gridlock?

By Anne Collier

We may soon look back on this turn-of-the-decade time as the golden days of endless apps and unrestricted smartphone use – at least when we’re not wearing our parent hats (when those are on, even now we’re not so care-free about all the app-downloading and photo- and video-sharing via cellphone). But cellphone spectrum traffic jams are on the increase to the point where you may’ve heard some of the dire predictions of a “mobile meltdown” in 2013, with data-greedy smartphones speeding us toward it. “If the growth in smartphone sales continues at the current pace, mobile traffic will more than double every year for the next four years,” reports New Scientist, citing Cisco research (via the Washington Post). New Scientist looks at some solutions in the works. One involves carriers “taxing” their most data-greedy customers, as in AT&T’s announcement last June that there would be monthly caps for iPhone users: “200 megabytes for $15 and 2 gigabytes for $25. The move hasn’t seemed to trouble iPhone owners because they can save money by switching from their original $30 unlimited data plan and, in most cases, will not be bothered by the 2 GB limit, which is equivalent to watching more than 100 two-minute videos in a month.” New Scientist says more “onerous” measures may have to be taken, though, and of course other carriers considering “tiered plans” similar to AT&T’s (which is rolling out as customers renew or get new contracts). Here’s a separate Post piece on the US carriers’ short-term plans to offer higher-speed service with accompanying high prices. New Scientist also looks at efforts to cram more data into the available spectrum and to “widen the highway” with new capacity-increasing technology, and what governments – at least in the US and UK – are doing for the latter. Check out the article to see how those efforts are going.

Related links

* Nielsen’s update on US teens’ mobile use in late October
* SafetyWeb’s guide to teen cellphone use
* About the nationwide Speak Up Survey, whose findings indicate that classroom mobile phone use will be growing too: “Mobile learning’s growing momentum”

Leave a comment