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CSIRO warns of a "wireless crunch" as Australians demand more data

The CSIRO has warned that Australia faces a "wireless crunch" as user demand for mobile data outstrips the capacity of the RF spectrum.

The CSIRO has warned that Australia faces a "wireless crunch" as user demand for mobile data outstrips the capacity of the country's radiofrequency spectrum.

Spectrum demand forecasts for mobile broadband (from ACMA Future Report).(Credit: A World Without Wires, CSIRO, Australia)

As Australians' mobile needs become more advanced and the growth of the 'Internet of Things' sees sensors and wireless connectivity roll out into more and more devices, the CSIRO's A World Without Wires report has warned that this new world order could bring challenges for Australia's wireless networks.

"Australians... [are] notoriously curious about new technologies, typically leading the rest of the world in terms of mobile adoption, wireless data consumption, and the uptake of the latest technological products and services," the report read.

"In June 2013 around 7.5 million Australians were using the internet via their mobile phone -- 510 per cent more than did just five years ago."

"A growing number of cities worldwide -- including many of Australia's capital cities -- face or have already experienced the prospect of 'wireless crunches', where user demand for data begins to outstrip the very spectrum bands and bandwidth available on current network infrastructure.

"Today's technologies and infrastructure will be hard pressed to support further increases in demand -- both in terms of speed and volume -- for wireless data and services over the short term, let alone the decades yet to follow."

With the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) estimating that spectrum demand will triple by 2020, the CSIRO has said that measures such as offloading of data loads onto Wi-Fi networks are "stop-gaps at best" and that they won't keep pace with increases in demand.

The CSIRO's report anticipates that dedicated spectrum bands for broadcast TV and mobile telephone calls will be overhauled to make way for wireless internet. As demand for mobile data leaps past demand for traditional TV and radio services, these broadcasts will increasingly be delivered through streaming services, while traditional telephone calls will move onto VoIP platforms.