Apple’s new toy of course is dominating the headlines right now, although other tablets are surely coming. What is available now is the WiFi version, whereas the 3G version will be out in a few weeks. While we have heard various thoughts on the potential strain the iPad may put on on wireless networks, might it not be true that the WiFi version will also strain wired networks? My theory is based on usage patterns of my family and friends, so I’m curious if others might see things the same way.
A laptop is actually not comfortable to use in most relaxing positions, including on one’s lap, and while it’s mobile it’s still a bit of a pain to carry around with you. A tablet however – one that really follows through with a user interface that makes sense – might feel just like a book you can take with you from room to room without thinking about where you might settle down next. You can be lying down and holding one of these things in one hand while watching a YouTube video on a pretty big screen, and you can do it for a long time. Therefore, my theory goes, if the iPad and its cousins catch on in a big way, then potential utilization rates per consumer broadband connection could see a substantial surge.
Whether DSL, Cable or fiber, utilization rates matter in the economics of the aggregation network necessary to support a community. Faster peak speeds are just one end of the candle, and older network architectures do not scale as well at higher average utilization rates. If the WiFi-enabled iPad takes off, might it unleash a new era in overall internet traffic growth that breaks us out of the 50-60% annual growth bracket we have been in for years now?
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