According to a recent FierceBroadbandWireless article by Lynette Luna, AT&T and other wireless service providers aren’t ready for “the onslaught of data traffic coming from smartphones, and that the deluge is beginning to clog their networks.”
This isn’t a huge surprise to me. Legacy networks were never built with the intention of hauling massive amounts of data. As consumers demand more and more from their mobile devices – particularly smartphones – these networks show their age more and more.
The legacy networks have been putting short term patches on the issues. In her article, which was based on a Wall Street Journal interview with an AT&T exec, Lynette points out that “AT&T has begun to nearly double the speed of its network in certain areas” since it brought the iPhone on board. (It should also be noted that the iPhone will still have more speed using its Wi-Fi radio for at least the next five years – if not forever.)
And of course, this week AT&T announced it would upgrade its network to HSPA to increase bandwidth. Finally, the company has adopted “strict data caps with punitive overage charges” to fight the overload. But again, these are only short term solutions for a much larger issue.
To truly move beyond the challenges of a legacy infrastructure, like AT&T’s network, 4G rollouts must begin on a wide scale. 4G technology – whether its mobile WiMAX or LTE – offers the bandwidth and speed necessary to support the huge amounts of data currently being run on smartphones. And it offers plenty of room to grow as more users adopt smartphones and browse on the go.
Of course, we know the future of wireless is coming – Sprint, Clearwire, AT&T and Verizon all have plans in place to begin/further their 4G rollouts. No matter what side of the 4G “battle” you’re on, I think we can all agree the 4G evolution will be an exciting one!
How have your smartphone experiences been on the legacy networks? Do you think the 4G network roll outs will help alleviate this? What else can the operators be doing now to help the problem?