Congestion on the Internet (not Interstate) Freeway

WI mapI was traveling home from Delavan, Wisconsin via I-39/90 on the July 4th weekend. Fortunately, I was heading north to Madison, not in the overwhelming flow of traffic heading to Chicago and other points south. I have never seen so many cars, bumper-to-bumper over 25 miles of road at speeds no more than 30 miles per hour.

Mobile data routes were similarly congested. SIRI couldn’t even translate my commands, as the airwaves were full. It struck me that in each of those cars, there were likely multiple mobile devices (or even the cars themselves) accessing the data airwaves. This created an invisible level of congestion equivalent to the very visible one. From tower to tower there were hundreds of connections, creating way more demand than the system could possibly have been designed for.

A recent Financial Times article helps quantify how our use of mobile data has changed. A few statistics it cites:

  • Smartphone data usage predicted to increase ten-fold by 2020
  • Mobile video will dominate the world’s internet, accounting for 60 percent of all mobile data traffic in 2020
  • Average monthly data usage per smartphone in North America will increase from 2.4 GB to 14 GB by 2020

The television industry is taking a hit as online video viewing continues to increase. Advertisers are also projected to continue to increase their media spending at online outlets. While oversized HDTVs may be ideal for watching the Tour de France or a weekend football game, it’s commonplace to watch with a mobile device in hand. The consumption of mobile data has become a constant presence, whether we are home, away, or motoring down the road.

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