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As Devices Pull More Data, Patience May Be Required

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs with iPad

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs demonstrates an Apple iPad tablet during its debut at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco.

Credit: Tony Avelar / Bloomberg

Could Apple's new iPad end up being too much of a good thing? Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, played up the iPad's ability to stream live baseball games and hit movies during his demonstration on Wednesday (January 27). (View a video of Jobs introducing the iPad.) But people who are willing to pay more to get that content over AT&T's 3G data network may pay another price: glacial downloads and spotty service on an already overburdened system.

America's advanced cellphone network is already beginning to be bogged down by smartphones that double as computers, navigation devices and e-book readers. Cellphones are increasingly being used as TVs, which hog even more bandwidth.

And a new generation of netbooks, tablet PCs and other mobile devices that connect to cellphone networks will only add to the strain. “Carrier networks aren't set to handle five million tablets sucking down 5 gigabytes of data each month," says Philip Cusick, an analyst at Macquarie Securities. Wireless carriers have drastically underestimated the network demand by consumers, and "it's only going to get worse," Cusick says.

View an Apple video on the iPad.

From The New York Times
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