FCC: Heavy traffic ahead
The Federal Communications Commission is thinking about the iPad and doesn’t necessarily like what it means for wireless networks.
In a blog post  by FCC officials Phil Bellaria and John Leibovitz, the agency said the traffic that could be generated by the iPad was “reminiscent of the congestion dialup users experienced following AOL’s 1996 decision to allow unlimited Internet use. For months, users had trouble connecting and, once they did connect, experienced frequent service outages.”
Though the officials did not name AT&T specifically, the iPad’s 3G connectivity is currently only available on AT&T’s network.
“With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy,” said Bellaria and Leibovitz, director of scenario planning for the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative and deputy chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, respectively.
The officials said the operators will only be able to deal with future congestion issues if they have adequate spectrum.
“Reaching an always-on wireless broadband future means that spectrum can no longer remain attached solely to uses deemed valuable decades ago,” they said. “The broadband plan will suggest ways of moving more spectrum into high-value uses, such as broadband access, to help ensure that we don’t get stuck in 1997 dialup-style congestion.”
AT&T has come under heavy criticism for its network performance, which appears to have been severely hampered by massive network traffic linked to the data-intensive iPhone. The operator recently completed wide-scale network upgrades to HSPA 7.2 to address traffic concerns.
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