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Tests Find iPad Produces 2.5x the Traffic of an iPhone

It’s no secret that wireless carriers have been struggling to figure out how to meet all the demands of smartphone and mobile device owners connecting their their 3G and wireless data networks. And with the 3G version of the Apple iPad about to land in consumers’ hot little hands, telecom operators may have more to fear: tests from ByteMobile find that, on average, identical tasks performed on an iPad generate 2.5 times the wireless data traffic as those same tasks on an iPhone.

“With operators’ capacity challenges mounting due to increased smartphone usage, the introduction of the iPad is sure to exacerbate wireless network congestion,” said Bytemobile product management VP Joel Brand, in a statement. “The fundamental reality is that network capacity is a constrained resource, even with technological advances and investments in infrastructure expansion.”

ByteMobile’s assessment of “identical tasks” on the iPad versus the iPhone is very consumer-oriented: they aren’t saying the iPad magically uses 2.5 times the data of an iPhone just connecting up to a wireless network, but rather that common iPad apps can be more data-intensive than their iPhone counterparts. ByteMobile found the the USA Today application for iPad generated some 6.3× the traffic of its iPhone counterpart; Google Maps was 2.6× as intensive, eBay was 1.5× as intensive, and the IMDB got off a little easy with only a 1.4× boost in data traffic.

“This couldn’t come at a more sensitive time for operators already struggling to keep up with demand from smartphones and laptops,” wrote ByteMobile’s Girish Wadhwani in the company blog.

In some ways, the increased bandwidth demands can be explained by the substantial increase in screen area on the iPad compared to the iPhone: with a 1,024 by 768 display, the iPad has over 5 times as many pixels as the iPhones 480 by 320-pixel display, and application developers keen to make iPad-specific applications as appealing as possible are leveraging that increased screen real estate. That means the iPad applications are often downloading substantially larger and higher-resolution graphics than their iPhone counterparts.

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