Will the mobile networks survive New Year?

With New Year approaching the West and smartphone traffic at an all-time high, will the networks be able to cope with the vast traffic expected on the night?

As countries and continents to the left of Greenwich Mean Time prepare to celebrate the New Year, most would be forgiven for failing to consider the stress on the mobile bandwidths over the celebratory period. After examining last year's festivities and recent failings and outages across mobile networks, I'm concerned this New Year the networks could crash entirely. even albeit for a short time.

This past year has seen an increase in smartphone sales but also an increase in network outages. London has been affected badly with O2's network, for a time the only network which offered the iPhone, which left thousands of users without Internet access for hours on end.

Christmas has been and passed with few issues reported, but as New Year approaches, with each timezone hitting 2010 an hour after each other, expect to see network connectivity issues spreading from east to west.

The problem will hit us at New Years. The vast firework spectacles, the social media world erupting with tweets and Facebook statuses wishing everyone a happy New Year, and an expected massive surge in text messages with very much the same content.

The end result would be a massive data surge which, no doubt the networks are aware of and are attempting to preempt any downtime. But the fragility of the network can only be bolstered so much before the overall infrastructure fails.

Almost as soon as Wal-Mart started selling the iPhone 3G, the huge popularity of the phone crippled the AT&T network with users unable to activate their new phones. I foresee a similar thing happening in the next few hours. The BlackBerry network, considered in my eyes as a strong and dependable infrastructure, suffered two outages in the space of a week, questioning the reliability of the network.

With more smartphones taking up mobile web traffic, videos and pictures being sent over the networks, along with ordinary text messages and voice calls being initiated at the same time, the 3G network could crawl at a snail's pace according to the Telegraph.

Will the networks collapse? I hope not, but once it hits midnight, you may have to keep resending that same text message until you get a gap in the queue.

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