How iPhone 3.0 Will Impact Wireless Networks

The iPhone has disrupted many aspects of the mobile industry, but nowhere is its impact more evident than in rise of mobile data usage. The number of U.S. mobile Internet users has more than doubled since the device was first introduced to stand at 46 million at the end of 2008 from 22.4 million in July 2006, according to Park Associates. The market research firm predicts that there will be 60 million smartphones sold in 2013.

iphonedatausageEurope.gifBut more importantly, the iPhone has spurred us to use the mobile Internet more and more. A report from 3G Americas shows that in Europe, data usage on iPhone increased substantially when the 3G version of the device came to the market. (See graph.) It’s hard to discern exactly how much bandwidth is being used by the average iPhone user, but the usage patterns point to heavy data consumption.

With the release of the new iPhone 3.0, I think the networks are going to come under an even heavier load as we’ll see another big spike in mobile data usage (which explains why AT&T has been hustling to upgrade its wireless network.)

Chetan Sharma, a veteran mobile analyst who is part of the GigaOM Analyst Network and is the author of “4g: State of the Union,” thinks mobile data usage is going to jump at least 1.5-2 times with the new release.

The reasons are pretty simple: The 3.0 release improves the user experience, which would prompt people to use their device more. Multimedia-related technologies such as video streaming, MMS, built-in search and in-app sales are some of the key new features that are going to suck more bandwidth. (For complete feature breakdown of the iPhone 3.0, check out TheAppleBlog.)

And let’s not forget about push notifications: The more notifications we get, the more we’ll be using the iPhone. Sharma agrees, saying he thinks the upgrades will “spur new development, which means means more downloading.”

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