Mobile carriers will soon be unable to keep up with the growing demand for bandwidth from smartphone users on the go, according to a new report by the UK consulting and advisory firm Deloitte.
The report, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), which is published annually be Deloitte, underlines the vast amount of data consumed by smartphone users in comparison to those who use ‘regular’ phones, and warns that at the current rate of adoption, this wireless traffic is likely to grow 50-fold by 2016.
Deloitte says that the so-called ‘bandwidth crunch’ would not be the total collapse that some have envisioned – smartphone users will still be able to connect, but in peak times we can expect a new phenomenon of data “rush hours” just as we see on the roads.
During ‘data rush hour’, users may find it takes two or three attempts before they can connect using their phone’s data connection, while dropped calls would become “three or four times” more common than they are now. In addition, other problems such as frozen webpages and slow browsing speeds would also become commonplace at peak times.
“In the worst situations, download speeds may be under 1Mbps for lengthy periods of time, making video streaming impossible and even web browsing difficult,” said Deloitte.
Lucky then, that our governments haven’t been totally blind to the disaster awaiting us. Several countries have made moves to free up radio spectrum in recent years, auctioning this off to carriers in order to help them cope with their user’s growing demands. The only problem is that this extra bandwidth may not help consumers too much, as many governments have asked operators to set this aside for specific purposes such as serving rural areas, or alternatively to ensure that emergency services can stay connected at all times.
Deloitte adds that the rise of 4G, which is far more efficient at utilizing bandwidth than 3G or EDGE connections, may help to ease the burden for carriers – but not by much. According to Deloitte, the growth in bandwidth demand is likely to outpace 4G adoption for the next several years at least.
The future looks to be one of growing frustration for smartphone users, especially in bigger cities, where we can look forward to “continued deterioration in end-user experience,” concludes the report.