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Mobile data demand will continue to rise claims Deloitte report, and 4G won’t solve the problem

A new report has warned that operators will struggle to keep up with the growing demand from data-hungry smartphone users. The report from Deloitte confirmed that on average iPhone, Android and Windows Phone handset owners consume 35 times more data traffic than a typical phone user. These staggering figures are just the tip of the iceberg. By 2016 Deloitte argues that this ever-increasing growth in demand will lead to a 50-fold growth in wireless traffic. Why should that matter to online traders? Well, it appears we do not have the bandwidth to accommodate this growth, so users will find mobile download speeds decreasing, and that will directly impact on online marketing.

This so-called ‘bandwidth crunch’ could ultimately lead to users being unable to connect at all. What’s more we may increasingly see mobile network rush hours just as we do on our roads. Deloitte maintains that during such peak times it may take as many as 2 to 3 attempts before a connection is established. Website owners will not be too pleased about that. What’s even more worrying for online businesses is that Deloitte estimates that those lucky enough to connect at all will more than likely see 3 or 4 times as many dropped calls, much lower browsing speeds and web pages may freeze.

The report claims:

“In the worst situations, download speeds may be under 1Mbps for lengthy periods of time, making video streaming impossible and even mobile web browsing difficult.”

Should this news be so surprising given the phenomenal growth in the smartphone market? Well, not really – it’s been expected. Many governments saw this coming, and have freed up radio spectrum which they are now auctioning off to help operators cope. The problem is the spare capacity in bandwidth is scarce, and the auctions are even rarer. To make matters worse, many governments are putting conditions on use of the spectrum by insisting they be used for a specific purpose like serving rural areas, rather than taking some of the pressure of the busiest parts of the network.

But won’t Fourth generation (4G) networks ride to the rescue and solve the problem? Well, it’s true that they’ll undoubtedly relieve some of the pressure and speed up the passage of data because they are more efficient at using the available bandwidth. But there still remains one fundamental problem: demand will continue to outstrip supply in the opinion of Deloitte:

“Demand for wireless bandwidth will likely attempt to outstrip these improvements in supply for at least several years. Major metropolitan areas in some geographies should expect to see continued deterioration in end-user experience.”

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