Home That’s Not a Phone, It’s a Tiny Computer: Global Mobile Data Surpasses Voice

That’s Not a Phone, It’s a Tiny Computer: Global Mobile Data Surpasses Voice

The mobile phone’s days as primarily a phone were short lived. Global mobile company Ericsson announced at the CTIA conference today that mobile data traffic surpassed voice traffic worldwide at approximately 140,000 Terabytes per month at the end of last year.

GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham writes, “Worryingly, that data traffic was generated by an estimated 400 million smartphones set against 4.6 billion mobile subscribers making voice calls. What happens when everyone has a smartphone?” This is an historic moment in terms of both technical capacity and the development of innovative features to serve mobile users.

The mobile industry is just coming to terms with this “tsunami of data” and the challenges it poses. Tricia Duryee wrote last year on MocoNews that two years ago none of the mobile companies would admit they faced a shortage of capacity, but that changed dramatically at the CTIA conference last year. In calling for more wireless spectrum, Qualcom co-founder Irwin Mark Jacobs said last year, “In the lab, we’ve done everything we know how to do to optimize spectrum. We have to use different tricks now.”

These tiny computers trying to use the spectrum that phones have traditionally used for voice are real game changers. As Duryee again reported last year, one smartphone equals 30 feature phones on a network, and one netbook or aircard equals 450 feature phones.

It’s not just about capacity, either. As mobile search specialist Peggy Anne Salz wrote last Summer, there’s a whole lot of feature development possibilities opening up because of this data:

“The advance of Internet-specific smartphones and the spread of app store schemes turns up the pressure on mobile operators (and their content providers) to decipher data transactions (on and off the network), combine it with location and demographic data and use the results to create a 360-degree view of the individual.”

Hopefully that will mean cool new features to serve users, not just mobile profiles to follow us around and target us with ads. So far smart phones have treated us pretty well though, haven’t they? They certainly aren’t just phones anymore.

Don’t miss the ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit on May 7th in Mountain View, California! We’re at a key point in the history of mobile computing right now – we hope you’ll join us, and a group of the most innovative leaders in the mobile industry, to discuss it.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.