By Colin Gibbs
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) this week introduced a feature for its Chrome mobile browser that it claims can reduce data consumption on the web as much as 70 percent. Data Saver, as the feature is dubbed, omits most images when a page is loaded through a slow network connection. Users can tap the screen to display specific images or all of them, reducing load times as well as data charges.
The move comes amid growing concerns that some carriers may not have the network capacity to keep pace with ever-increasing data consumption in the coming years. Financial analysts at New Street Research recently said Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has only half the network capacity it will need by 2020 and will be forced to purchase additional spectrum or risk losing customers due to network-quality problems. Similarly, some analysts have wondered aloud whether T-Mobile's (NYSE: TMUS) network has the capacity to meet the increased demand its "Binge On" initiative is likely to spur.
Google said it will initially launch Data Saver in India and Indonesia, two emerging markets where 4G penetration is relatively low, low-end smartphones are extremely popular and many consumers are particularly price-sensitive regarding mobile data. Google said it will roll out Data Saver to additional countries "in the coming months."
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