Light Reading
The near-doubling of 4G users on LTE networks in the US could cause data congestion and slowdowns in towns and cities on the new networks

iPhone 5 Could Cause Local Data Crunches in US

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
9/21/2012
50%
50%

The near-doubling of Long Term Evolution (LTE) users on U.S. networks in the coming days and weeks -- thanks to the iPhone 5 -- could cause localized data congestion and slowdowns that will mostly affect existing users of 4G smartphones and tablets.

Light Reading Mobile caught up with Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics , Friday afternoon after the launch of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s first 4G smartphone to talk about the likely impact of the device on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless 's fledgling LTE networks.

(Check out What We Mean When We Say '4G' if you want a refresher on what LTE actually is.) RootMetrics surveys 3G and 4G network performance, with help from an app that users can install on their own smartphones. Moore says the testing area covers the "top 75 urbanized areas" in the United States.

So what's going to happen with the new iPhone, Bill?

The bad news
Moore estimates there are up to 12 million to 13 million 4G LTE users currently in the U.S., and "they're predicting the iPhone 5 could sell 10 million in the first week," he says.

"That's a lot of new people on 4G all of a sudden. You've got a kind of doubling effect that could occur across the various networks, so that could lead to congestion and slowdowns," suggests Moore. "Plus, LTE users use their phone for data much more than 3G users, so that's going to be a challenge."

He suspects that -- given the still spotty nature of 4G LTE deployments -- any impact will be felt in specific towns or cities rather than nationwide.

"It isn't going to crunch every city. It's going to be localized if it happens," he says "The slowdown would be experienced by people that are already on the network."

That's most likely to be someone with an Android smartphone, as it happens. Verizon, for instance, sold 2.5 million Droids in the second quarter. (See iPhone 5: A 4G Stress Test.)

The mitigating factors
Wireless being the fluid, shared medium that it is, Moore stresses that it is difficult to give any exact predictions about iPhone LTE coverage and problems.

Much, he suggests, depends on how "informed" the average consumer is about 4G LTE and whether they know that Big Red's 370-plus LTE footprint dwarfs its nearest rival in coverage across the U.S. -- although Verizon's pioneering 4G push means its network is also the heaviest loaded LTE network in the U.S. so far.

  • If many people switch to Verizon as their 4G provider over AT&T, it could stress some of Verizon's 4G towns and cities.
  • If AT&T's users stick by them for LTE and get the traditional iPhone subscriber bump, it could spell trouble for some of that operator's 72 LTE cities. (See AT&T Touts Best-Ever iPhone Sales.)
  • Sprint? Moore expects it's least likely to be affected.


The ironic twist
Apple and its carrier partners could be saved by the very success of the iPhone. Apple sold more than 2 million in pre-sales, so shipping dates for many of the devices have been pushed out by two weeks or more.

This could give carriers time to examine the impact of the new iPhone and start to put load-balancing and capacity measures in place to deal with the anticipated influx of data-hungry 4G iPhonistas.

Check out more of our iPhone 5 coverage here.

— Dan "Dick Clark" Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
joset01
50%
50%
joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:20:36 PM
re: iPhone 5 Could Cause Local Data Crunches in US


Let us know if you experience congestion with your new iPhone or existing LTE Android. DJ.

joset01
50%
50%
joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:20:26 PM
re: iPhone 5 Could Cause Local Data Crunches in US


Definitely not enough for evidence yet but could this be an early sign of data crunches I wonder. I will ask Verizon but it not likely something they want to admit.

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (0) comments


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed