TOKYO (majirox news) — Japanese consumers have taken to smart phones with relish. However, the rapid escalation of use of the devices capable of handling data volumes on a par with PCs threatens to overload the country’s mobile phone network, according to cell phone companies.
Cell phone companies are taking steps to control communication volumes and come up with plans to stop users from literally blowing up the market by overloading networks.
Smart phones are capable of handling large volumes of data up to 20 times the average users’ level of existing mobile phone. KDDI Corp. estimates that smart phone proliferation will send data communication volume levels in 2015 to 18 times higher than what they had been last year.
“Unless we do something, communication volumes will exceed mobile phone network capacity in 2013,” KDDI President Takashi Tanaka said.
Networks in central Tokyo have already reportedly slowed down and connections have become more difficult.
KDDI, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Softbank Corp., Japan’s three biggest mobile phone companies, have already started limiting data transmission on heavy users once they’ve exceeded a certain level of use within a set time frame.
Companies are also looking at eliminating a pricing system that allows users unlimited access and are considering alternatives that will charge smart phone users according to the volume of data they use.
Long Term Evolution (LTE), a system that allows fast, heavy transmission of data, is seen as the long-term answer to unclogging networks blocked by heavy smart phone use. NTT DoCoMo started using LTE last year and this winter will release its first LTE phone. KDDI and Softbank will move onto LTE from next year.
However, experts agree that it will take until about 2015 for LTE to become the norm. In the meantime, mobile phone companies are boosting their public wireless networks that smart phones can tap into and relieve some of the pressure on mobile phone circuits.