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HANNOVER, GERMANY - MARCH 02: A stand host holds a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mobile phone that uses the Android operating system at the Deutsche Telekom stand at the CeBIT Technology Fair on March 2, 2010 in Hannover, Germany. CeBIT will be open to the public from March 2 through March 6. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: Well, maybe you'll head online at your work computer today to do some shopping or maybe you'll just do it from your smartphone. Turns out the amount of data passing through mobile phone networks in the U.S. doubles every year. People watching Youtube, checking Facebook, and surfing the web -- maybe for a Cyber Monday deal -- add up to about three quarters of the mobile system's bandwidth.

Marketplace's Steve Henn reports now from Silicon Valley on how cell carriers are struggling to keep up.

STEVE HENN: Data traffic on cell phone networks will hit an exabyte by the end of the year. Now that word probably doesn't mean much to you -- but it's more than 18,000 times the amount of information contained in all the books ever written.

Chetan Sharma is an industry analyst.

CHETAN SHARMA: What's happening is the pace with which the devices -- the broadband devices are coming onto the market has accelerated.

And Sharma says it's not just phones that are hooking into the mobile phone network.

SHARMA: Any device that can be broadband enabled will be broadband enabled.

Cars and cameras and toys are connecting. To keep up, cell phone companies are going to have to build new networks at a breakneck pace. Customers are going to have to get used to dropped calls and capped data plans -- and ultimately Sharma says the FCC will need to sell spectrum to carry the load.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.