Over the years, as reflected in the writings here, the quest to try and outguess where technology will usher us has been one challenge that has never ceased to entertain me. And as with these writings, there are many other places where the discussion as to the health of our communications infrastructure has been written about and argued over by yours truly.

Recently, the discussion turned to what is happening with AT&T’s network as their customers make the transition from using their cell phones as mobile voice platforms (with a little texting on the side) to real data clients.

According to John Donovan, CTO of AT&T, said the carrier’s wireless data traffic has increased 4,932 percent during the past dozen quarters. “I know what you’re thinking: iPhone. And you’re right, but only partially right,” Donovan said, explaining that Research In Motion’s BlackBerry devices and messaging-centric feature phones have also contributed to the increase in traffic.”

Apple Insider republishes data from a recent AdMob report that makes the claim, “In the worldwide market, AdMob notes that Apple advanced its lead in smartphone traffic share from 43% last month to an even 50%.”

Okay, so what’s next?

How about Fring making it possible to have Skype videophone on your Nokia S60 powered cell phone? If that catches on I wonder what the data usage statistics will look like a year from now.

But Mr. Donovan isn’t finished providing a wakeup call yet. Check out this gem, “If you look at 2008 for us it was unprecedented in terms of the work we did in the backbone,” Donovan said. “The capacity we carried in 2008 five years out will be a rounding error.” Donovan added that AT&T’s 2 gigabit backbone lasted 7 years, their 10 gigabit backbone lasted five, and the 40 gigabit will last 3 years. He then asked rhetorically, “How long will a 100 gigabit network last? At 400 gigabits I think our routers melt, I think finance likes liquid assets, but I don’t think that’s what they had in mind,” Donovan quipped.

Mr. Donovan also provided this bit of wisdom, “We have to rethink how we’re carrying traffic in our networks and I don’t think you can stop at just the cost per bit. We need to back out of that and fundamentally rethink how we interoperated, how networks are constructed, how routing is done and how we move content.”

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