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Smartphone users heading for data slowdown

A new report from Deloitte predicts a 50-fold growth in wireless traffic by 2016, potentially leading to a global spectrum shortage as demand exceeds supply.

Smartphones are being singled out as the main catalyst for the increased rate of data consumption, as iPhone, Android and Windows Phone users are estimated to take up to 35-times more data than an average phone owner.

Major urban hubs are expected to be the areas most affected by the impending data shortfall as access to online information is integral to modern business. Mobile networks may also see “rush hours” for bandwidth, which will inflict dramatically slower browsing speeds, dropped calls, and in the worst situations “download speeds may be under 1Mbps for lengthy periods of time”.

There are solutions to this looming data crunch as the report points to 4G’s greater efficiency in data allocation - LTE is almost 16 times better than 3G at moving data over a Hertz of spectrum. However, this hope is tempered by the technologies slow rollout which persistently lags behind growing demand.

“The seven years it has taken to develop and widely deploy this new technology, wireless traffic increased 30-fold. Telecommunication equipment vendors simply can’t invent new technologies fast enough to meet growing demand,” reads the report.