LONDON Smartphones generate eight times the network signalling load of a USB dongle-equipped laptop when they transmit the same volume of data, according research from infrastructure equipment provider Airvana.
The company suggests this will become an increasingly important issue for operators already concerned by the volume of data traffic generated by laptop users.
Airvana also says such a large "load multiplier effect" from smartphones highlights the urgent need for improved and alternative mobile data processing and off-load strategies.
Quoting recent figures from iSuppli, Airvana notes that global shipments of smartphones are expected to go from 200 million in 2009 to 450 million in 2013.
And, even though smartphones may only account for a minority percentage of all devices on operator networks today, they are always on, moving between cell sites and continually 'polling' the network. As a result, smartphones are already responsible for the majority two to three times as much as laptops of the total signaling activity.
Earlier this week, Matthew Key, the chief executive of British mobile operator 02, which till next month has the sole rights for the iPhone and which is about to launch the Palm Pre, said the demands that smartphones had placed on its network had caused significant "growing pains", with the amount of data traffic handled doubling every three months.
However he added the network problem was limited to isolated areas, especially in London.
Meanwhile, the surge in wireless data and looming spectrum crisis happening across the industry was highlighted last week by the head of the FCC in the U.S., Julius Genachowski.
Speaking at the CTIA show in San Diego. Genachowski identified a 10-fold gap in data demanded vs. spectrum available in the foreseeable future and went on to say, "the needed bandwidth must come from multiple places, including promising new technologies like smart antennas and femtocells."
Airvana happens to be one of the major providers of femtocells, home gateways that increase the data capacity and voice quality of mobile phones in the home and in office buildings.