Vodafone CEO alerts industry to data explosion

The likelihood of mobile networks being swamped by smartphone-generated mobile data traffic was high on the agenda at last week's Mobile World Congress.

Even the CEO of Vodafone, Vittorio Colao, expressed his concerns that the rapidly surging growth of smartphones could soon lead to the outstripping of network operators' capacity to ensure the smooth flow of data across their networks. Echoing the words of AT&T, Colao claimed there was urgent need to implement new data tariffs to allow operators to invest more to boost the capability of network infrastructure, while still generating a profit.

Controversially, the exec suggested that operators might consider charging content providers and guarantee the provider bandwidth as well as asking the user to pay extra for consuming more bandwidth.

Adding to this perspective, Santiago Tenorio, group head of radio development at Vodafone, stated that there was not a data capacity crunch issue, claiming that all it takes "is a robust capacity [planning] process and sufficient investment, both of which we do group-wide."

While AT&T and O2 have both suffered network meltdowns that have been attributed to a fast-growing base of iPhone subscribers, Tenorio maintains that the Apple device is not different from any other smartphone in terms of impact on the network.

However, Vodafone has only recently starting selling the iPhone, leaving it time to make the necessary infrastructure investment over the past 12 months. Also, the company has capped iPhone subscribers at between 500Mb to 1Gb a month, which certainly helps manage bandwidth demand.

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