3G and 4G networks in Australia will not cope with the growth of traffic generated by tablets, according to Justin Milne, deputy chairman of online DVD rental company Quickflix.
Milne, who recently resigned as PieNetworks’ chairman, told delegates at the Communications Alliance’s Broadband and Beyond 2012 conference in Sydney that 450 million tablets will be in use by 2015, which would put significant strain on current 3G and 4G networks.
“A lot of people who bought one are buying a second and a third because we’ve all discovered pretty rapidly that a tablet is a very personal device: it’s a personal video device, it’s a personal app device, a personal newspaper, and a personal email device,” Milne said.
“In turn, I don’t think that 3G or 4G has got any chance of coping with the amount of traffic that the tablets will generate for us.”
This pressure on existing networks will be further exacerbated by the increasing penetration of tablet devices in schools and the enterprise, Milne said.
To alleviate this network strain, he said Wi-Fi would be a better alternative to manage large traffic. “You can configure a Wi-Fi network to serve a large number of people much more easily and efficiently than you can on a 3G network, and much cheaper,” Milne said.
Three quarters of tablets currently sold in the market are Wi-Fi-only tablets, which Milne believes will drive Wi-Fi connectivity. He cited a study by In-Stat that predicted 120 billion Wi-Fi connections will be made in 2015.
However, Milne said telcos in Australia are not providing significant Wi-Fi connectivity to their consumers, which could create problems for them as other industry players are providing that service for free.
“Telcos are staring down the barrel of the tsunami of cheap and useful and data-hungry devices which don’t rely on telcos for their connectivity because that connectivity is provided freely by other players,” Milne said.
“That’s a dilemma. We’ve got this tsunami of media of internet, but in Australia we haven’t got either or any of the telcos [to] provide any significant Wi-Fi connectivity.
“They continue to sit on their 3G and 4G networks that aren’t going to cut the mustard.”
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