Will Video on iPad, Other Tablets Crush Mobile Networks?

Could tablet computing overwhelm mobile networks with video traffic? If you consider the current quality of video being consumed on networks today, versus what users will expect on large-screen mobile devices like the iPad, mobile carriers might be in a world of hurt once more consumers buy those devices.

So far, users have been mostly limited to watching low-resolution, non-bandwidth-intensive videos on their mobile devices. But the Apple iPad (s AAPL) and a whole new generation of mobile tablets using Google’s Android (s GOOG) operating system have the ability to push video data consumption on mobile networks to the limit.

New research from Bytemobile shows that the majority of video consumed on mobile networks continues to be low-quality, low-resolution clips. According to the firm, 57 percent of video consumed on mobile devices is 240p video resolution, compared to 22 percent of videos that are in 360p resolution and 21 percent that are in 480p resolution.

But while mobile users view 240p resolution videos about three times as much as 420p mobile videos, the higher-quality videos use up nearly as much data. 240p videos use up 39 percent of mobile video traffic, compared to the 31 percent of mobile video traffic that is used up by 420p videos. That’s bad new for mobile operators, as large-screen mobile devices such as the iPad and upcoming Android tablets increase the demand for high-quality mobile video.

Even worse, higher mobile data rates mean more video going across carrier networks. Bytemobile compared the amount of data traffic across multiple mobile carriers and found that those with faster networks delivered a larger percentage of video across their networks. Video on a network operating at 400 kbps made up only 39 percent of data traffic, compared with 57 percent of data traffic on a network running at 850 kbps.

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