Why Do Smartphones Hate America's Bandwidth?

Ever-growing industry pushing cell-phone spectrum to its limits

By Jessica Greene
|  Thursday, Oct 8, 2009  |  Updated 4:03 PM EDT
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The wildly popular iPhone is the leading gadget that's pushing bandwidth to its limits.

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The biggest threat to the cell phone industry is not the next big smartphone that could crush the competition, but a lack of bandwidth to run them all, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission warns.

Julius Genachowski said on Wednesday that we are on the verge of a "a looming spectrum crisis" and that the government is working to make more bandwidth available to handle the increase expected as more and more Americans hop on the mobile device bandwagon.

The iPhone, with its 75,000 apps available for just about anything you want or need (or really don't need), has had a huge impact on bandwidth. Many industry experts predict wireless traffic will increase 30 times due to online video and other bandwidth-heavy applications as more people begin using it and other smartphones.

The chairman asked industry executives to imagine a scenario when the number of computers with mobile broadband quadruples, or when every mobile phone user upgrades to an iPhone, Palm Pre, BlackBerry Tour or other bandwidth-hungry device.

Genachowski gave props to AT&T for its decision to let iPhone owners to use Internet calling services on its wireless network. Until now, the phone giant only allowed Internet calling services to work on the popular device only over Wi-Fi connections.

"The goal of the proceeding will be to develop sensible rules of the road -- rules clear enough to provide predictability and certainty and flexible enough to anticipate and welcome ongoing technological evolution," he said.

Even though it's the main culprit for clogging the system, Genachowski is not against the ubiquitous iPhone. He even swears by one and shares his favorite app, the interesting and educational Sky Walk, with his daughter.

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