AT&T CEO Hints at Future Network "Management" vis a vis iPhone

AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted at steps his company might take to manage throughput on his company's data network in order to deal with the iPhone. At issue for the company is the fact that 3% of its smartphone customers (i.e. iPhone users) are using 40% of all smartphone traffic, an issue the company feels it has to "manage" the situation so that other users aren't "crowded out."

Mr. de la Vega's comments were made during a keynote presentation at the wireless industry's annual CTIA Conference in San Diego being held this week, as reported by Mark Sullivan for PC World.

During his keynote, he was shy on details on just how his company would "manage" network throughput, but an easy leap is that AT&T would choose to throttle bandwidth for iPhone users. This is the same sort of approach that cable companies have wanted to implement for their own high-usage customers, especially those using BitTorrent.

"We have to manage the network to make sure that the few cannot crowd out the many," Mr. de la Vega said during his keynote, and Mr. Sullivan stressed that the phrase "crowded out" was used no fewer than five times during that portion of the keynote.

He also said that demand for wireless broadband has increased some 5,000 percent in just the last three years. AT&T has worked to increase its network capacity, but the company has come under criticism for being unable to stay ahead of iPhone use.

Mr. de la Vega said that new bandwidths would need to be opened up, but there aren't many frequencies that are open for possible use, and what little there is would take years for networks to be established that use them. Hence the need to network "management."