September 7th, 2009
If you watch the news at all, you’ve more than likely heard our current president talk about how we need to solve 21st century problems with 21st century technology (referring to our outdated methods of approach to current problems), and if you’re a CSPAN listener, as I am, you’ve heard more and more congressional hearings involving the high-level FCC personnel and other technology advocates lobbying for increased funding for upgrades to our nation’s communications superhighway, citing it’s outdated ability to handle the communications loads of the 21st century.
This issue is becoming more and more urgent by the day as Americans, and people all over the world, are changing the way they access information. Since the inception of the Smart Phone, information consumers are no longer chained to a terminal at a desk, and are able to access information anywhere, at any time, and for any length of time. This is beginning to cause some serious problems.
If you and your Smart Phone were anywhere near Austin, TX, in mid march of this year, for the South by Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival, you probably experienced data and voice outages (or both). This was caused by an influx of iPhone users in the area at that time. These individuals, excited to try the newest apps for their iPhone coalesced in such great numbers, and used bandwidth to such a degree that they for all intense purposes shut down the AT&T wireless network. This caused outrage amongst the iPhone community who went on to trash AT&T on Twitter and various blogs.
AT&T is currently feeling this pressure more than any other carrier as it’s users of the Apple iPhone are currently the largest consumers of data out there, with the average iPhone user consuming up to four times more data than the typical wireless subscriber.
The networks of today simply aren’t designed to accommodate current user’s appetite for information. The problem isn’t so much one of an amount of data being accessed, but rather the fact that users of Smart Phones are always on the move, accessing data from different points on the network, for varying lengths of time, and when the lunch whistle blows, and everyone decides to log on, the result can be a total halting of wireless services.
According to AT&T’s chief technology officer, John Donovan, “3G Networks were not designed for this kind of usage. We fight day to day guerilla warfare as our customers move around”. But…AT&T is not complaining citing that the Apple iPhone is a problem that, “other carriers would love to have”.
This problem, however, is only going to increase in intensity as time passes. Users of Google’s Android platform are just as information hungry, and though this platform is only currently available on select phones, other wireless carriers are catching on to user’s love of the touch screen functionality, and we should be seeing Android on several new phones in the spring of 2010.
The solution to this problem is one that is, unfortunately, going to take time to implement. The process to upgrade our nation’s wireless grid to 4G technology will take years, and wireless carriers will more that likely have to resort to other means to keep our current networks from becoming overburdened. Some carriers have thought of limiting which applications can be accessed on their devices, but ultimately the short term solution will come down to money. Charging less for users who use little bandwidth, and charging premium prices for those users who are “bandwidth hungry” should, for the foreseeable future, help to slow the growth wireless bandwidth consumption. Hopefully this solution will work long enough to allow for the needed upgrades to our communications infrastructure, or until new technology presents new solutions.
Post By Lewis Van Tassel
Lewis is an Education Manager for
Omnistar Email Marketing Software