Mobile data use is skyrocketing. Are we ready?

A man looks at his email on a Blackberry.

Cisco also says that within a few years, two-thirds of that traffic is going to come from mobile video as video phone calls take root (one could easily be skeptical of that claim, seeing as how the alleged video calling boom is the "soccer will be as popular as baseball" of technology). Welcome to the future.

If you've ever been unable to move a big file through your mobile device or if you've ever experienced network weakness or failure, you might be dubious that the system can handle all that. The guests we talk to today say that it can be done but it will take some work.

Glenn Fleishman is a writer for Economist.com and he says the networks will hold up because the carriers can profit by offering those services and having them function. But a big part of handling the traffic will be using the existing broadcast spectrum more efficiently. Modern technologies are able to do that and innovations like the new LTE networks (that all the wireless carriers are touting) should help.

George Calhoun, professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, says the other part of the work will be for the government to re-license parts of the broadcast spectrum that aren't being used. Huge swaths of spectrum had been set aside for things like the UHF frequency on televisions. It will take long hearings at the FCC and lots of politics and lobbying, but the resources are there.

Also in this program, seven air carriers are offering free Facebook access on flights. If you want other sites, you must pay. It's a bummer to have limited selection but let's not lose sight of the marvel of talking to all your friends (and "friends") while 30,000 feet in the air.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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