Will FaceTime on coming iPhone 5 crash LTE networks?
Carriers prepare with new technologies, data plans, but analysts say nobody knows what will happen when iOS 6-based devices arrive
Computerworld - Are the nation's LTE wireless carriers prepared for the video chat data crunch expected to come with the next-generation iPhone and other devices that are expected to launch this fall?
The answer: It depends on whom you ask.
Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless decline to say whether they are ready for the data crunch.
Over the summer, both carriers introduced data sharing plans that analysts believe were timed to help limit a surge in heavy data use expected especially with the use of Apple's FaceTime real-time video chat software on the iPhone.
"If I were a carrier, I'd be rather frightened by FaceTime," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. GoldAssociates. "If everybody used FaceTime, bandwidth would go up dramatically, and the user experience would go down."
Imposing data sharing plans with set fees for specific numbers of gigabytes a month -- and penalties for exceeding the set amounts -- could help top carriers AT&T and Verizon avoid data capacity overload problems on their 4G LTE, and even 3G, networks, Gold said.
"Requiring the data sharing plans is really just another way for carriers to say they are limiting your access," he added.
AT&T has come under fire in recent days for announcing plans to require users to sign up for a Mobile Share data plan in order to conduct FaceTime video chats over its current 3G and future cellular networks.
FaceTime will be available for cellular network use, instead of just over Wi-Fi, in mobile devices running the forthcoming iOS 6, which Apple announced earlier this year.
Sprint, the nation's number three carrier, has stood solidly behinds its unlimited data plans, and is just starting to roll out 4G LTE technology.
At an event to mark the activation of its 16th LTE location in Baltimore earlier this week, Sprint 4G engineering manager Viet Chu told reporters that "if some abuse the system [with heavy data use] we would address it." He didn't specify what steps the carrier may take.
Concerns about FaceTime's impact on cellular networks are particularly acute, partly because the iPhone is the top selling smartphone model worldwide and because the next model will reportedly support LTE, which would help make the device even more popular.
The upcoming iPhone is also expected to have a larger screen -- more than 4-inches compared to the current modle's 3.5-in. screen -- which would make video chats easier.
That creates problems for carriers because like most two-way chat apps, FaceTime is an enormous bandwidth hog.
Video chat often uses about 3 megabytes of data per minute, though the exact rate depends on encoded software, noted Wendy Cartee, vice president of product and technical marketing for JuniperNetworks.
- Sprint to resell Google Apps for Business cloud service
- Samsung's S5 mini: Slimmer and slower than S5, but still scans fingerprints
- Privacy-focused Blackphone starts shipping to early adopters
- Why you shouldn't buy the Amazon Fire phone
- A closer look at the new technologies in Amazon's Fire smartphone
- Amazon's Fire phone is 'Prime' example of customer first
- Amazon's expected smartphone already faces skeptics
- Update: Tizen OS declared 'dead in the water'
- LG's new G3 smartphone: Simpler is better
- LG G3 sports quad-HD screen and laser autofocus
- What is this "File Sync" Thing and Why Should I Care About It? All of a sudden, getting a file from your work laptop to your iPad became as simple as clicking "Save." So it's no...
- Software Asset Management: Ensuring Today's Assets Today's trends like BYOD and SaaS are new and exciting in terms of how they will help make our jobs more productive but...
- Mobile First: Securing Information Sprawl Learn how the partnership between Box and MobileIron can help you execute a "mobile first" strategy that manages and secures both mobile apps...
- AIIM Trendscape: The New Mobile Reality This AIIM Trendscape report shares data, expert opinions, and a unique perspective on the impact of cloud and mobility in the enterprise, surfacing...
- Why do you need an enterprise mobile platform? Today companies must offer great apps that run on a range of devices, and connect to an exploding set of backend data. Appcelerator...
- Technology for Everyone A Kansas school district modernizes teaching and learning and paves the way to a one-to-one program with a comprehensive upgrade of its wireless... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts