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Virgin Media UK Warns iPhone 4s to Push Mobile Broadband Capacity to the Limit

Posted: 05th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
iphone 4svirgin media business ukThe business division of UK cable operator Virgin Media (Virgin Media Business), specifically its Head of Mobile & Broadcast, George Wareing, has warned that last night's launch by Apple of its new iPhone 5 iPhone 4s Smartphone could result in "data hungry" users pushing the backhaul data capacity of existing Mobile Broadband operators "to the limit" (i.e. capacity crunch).

The news comes shortly after Virgin Media's CEO, Neil Berkett, warned that next years London 2012 Olympic Games would be at risk of a similar mobile network "capacity crunch" unless the city installed a "widespread, consistent wi-fi" network to help offload some of the extra data traffic.

George Wareing, Head of Mobile & Broadcast at Virgin Media Business, told ISPreview.co.uk:

"The technology world awaits today’s launch of the iPhone 5 with bated breath. As usual, there’s been huge speculation about what we can expect from Apple’s latest offering. But whatever the cosmetic changes, the new handsets are certain to be bandwidth heavy.

Workforces up and down the country now expect to be equipped with the latest smartphone and Britain has never been so data hungry as a result. This means that the UK’s mobile backhaul networks are creaking under the strain of demand for data, and the iPhone 5 will push them to the limit.

It's clear that the rate of innovation from handset providers is exceeding the pace of change for operators’ infrastructure. Without action, mobile providers may find themselves struggling with increasingly slow connection speeds - something that consumers in this day and age just won’t accept. Mobile operators need to take a step change in expanding their network capacity, rather than doing a patch-work job of ‘just-in-time’ upgrades."

As it stands Apple didn't launch the iPhone 5 at all and instead rolled out a slightly underwhelming upgrade to its popular iPhone 4 device, which now features a faster processor (A5 dual-core CPU), higher quality 8MP camera, more ram (1GB), more storage memory and lots of new features via the iOS 5 software.

In other words the iPhone 4s is unlikely to be the game changer that Wareing suggests and existing owners probably won't feel a burning desire to upgrade. However mobile data consumption is continuing to grow, fuelled by greater demand for video content and higher quality handsets in general.

So far most mobile operators are managing to keep up and the much feared capacity crunch hasn't happened, although mobile data remains an expensive business and some operators have opted to scale back their allowances while others (e.g. Three (3) UK) have gone in the opposite direction.
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