Peak data could be a looming disaster

Could we be running out of room on the Wi-Fi spectrum?
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01.End of the net as we know it?

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Some areas around Australia are fast approaching “peak data”, where user demand for wireless internet and other services can’t be catered for by the available radiofrequency spectrum, threatening the tele-connected world we’ve become accustomed to, according to a report by the CSIRO.

The CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, says wireless technology had been adopted at "breakneck pace" around the world, and our infrastructure could already be struggling to keep up.

"The data rates that people now expect from their mobile services are about a hundred times the amount we thought possible only two decades ago," says Dr Ian Oppermann, director of the agency's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship. "Some estimates suggest that spectrum demand will have almost tripled by 2020, and existing infrastructure will need to rapidly expand its currently available capacity if it's to meet this demand."

And as more essential services, including medical, education and government services, are in the process of becoming available digitally and on mobile devices, finding a solution to peak data will become ever more important into the future, according to Oppermann.

But the news isn't all bad. While we're fast running out of available spectrum, the way spectrum is allocated may change, and innovation to make it more efficient is likely. But we must ensure that innovation proceeds.

The CSIRO’s report, World Without Wires, states that today's technologies and infrastructure will be hard pressed to support further increases in demand for wireless data and services over the coming decades, both in terms of speed and volume.



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