New iPhone 4 will force mobile operators to abandon flat tariffs

8 Jun 2010

The iPhone is already putting a strain on current mobile networks but with the new iPhone 4 the traffic will explode and force operators to abandon flat-rate service plans, an analyst has warned.

Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst Malik Kamal-Saadi praised the new device but said data-intensive new features will allow users to consume more wireless data through application downloads and video streaming.

Not only that but they will also be likely to generate more traffic through content uploads like edited videos, photo albums and other user-generated content.

“The iPhone is already putting a strain on current cellular networks but with the new version the traffic is most likely to explode,” said Kamal-Saadi.

“This situation will force partnering operators to abandon flat-rate service plans and opt for alternative business models. Last week, AT&T announced such change in strategy most likely in anticipation of the forthcoming iPhone 4.

“Apple seems to encourage applications and services over Wi-Fi – eg, Netflix, FaceTime, etc – this will likely encourage operators to be more aggressive towards Wi-Fi services and add this access to their existing service plans.

Traffic burst

Ari Kynaslahti, head of controller product management for Nokia-Siemens Networks at a recent Three Ireland press conference confirmed the level of strain the iPhone has put on traditional cellular networks.

“Smartphones have created a new type of challenge to the mobile network. Traditionally, nobody paid any attention to the signalling traffic, but worldwide, as soon as the iPhone was introduced, signalling traffic doubled within two weeks,” Kynaslahti confirmed.

Another potential challenge for the new iPhone 4, Kamal-Saadi said, is battery capacity.

“Although the battery capacity of iPhone 4 has been improved dramatically compared to previous versions, energy starving services and features such as HSUPA, video telephony, video editing and playback, multitasking, and a number of advanced apps such as iMovie, Netflix will put the battery capacity to the test,” he said.

Photo: The iPhone 4

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years