"Explosion of data" caused O2's poor network quality in 2009

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Something we're likely to hear more of in 2010 is the 'damage' that mobile phone users who make use of the always on promise of mobile data cause on the coverage and quality of a network. Head of O2 Robin Dunne said as much in this interview on the FT. While he points ot the "unlimited" data on the iPhone (during much of 2009 O2 had the UK exclusive on this handset) with more awareness of data connectivity, expect more problems in the New Year.

Part of the problem is that for years the networks have been heavily promoting their networks and the mobile internet - paired up with the infamous "unlimited" data plans that have caps and fair use clauses. Now that people are actually using the internet from their smartphones, and in significant volumes, the network infrastructure is starting to struggle.

While the O2 problems were (mostly) limited to London, they are addressing the problem at a national level with more efficient infrastructure, an increase in the number of base stations and "learning about applications that could place heavy demands on the network."

And there is human nature. We don't want to pay in our mobile phone bills, but we also want to be doing more with our phone every day. It's unlikely that people who have been heavy data users will start to use less data.

-- Ewan Spence, Dec 2009.