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Peak Data — coming to a network near you

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Harmeet
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: The threat of "peak data" and what that could mean for the way we connect and access essential services in the future, is the focus of a report released by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency.

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Dr Ian Oppermann, director of CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, said wireless technology had been adopted at "breakneck pace" around the world.

"The data rates that people now expect from their mobile services are about a hundred times the amount we thought possible only two decades ago," Dr Oppermann said.

The report, World Without Wires, points out that wireless communications relies on the availability of radiofrequency spectrum. The spectrum has practical limits and more spectrum cannot be created so we are faced with a finite resource and growing demands to use it.

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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 coming decades.

Many global cities are fast approaching the point of "peak data" - where user demand for wireless internet, telephony, and other services can no longer be fully accommodated by the available radiofrequency spectrum.

"Currently the useable spectrum is divided up and allocated to various uses, such as TV/radio broadcast, emergency services, and mobile phone communications for example.

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"In the future, how spectrum is allocated may change and we can expect innovation to find new ways to make it more efficient but the underlying position is that spectrum is an increasingly rare resource," Dr Oppermann added.

"Some estimates suggest that spectrum demand will have almost tripled by 2020, and existing infrastructure will need to rapidly expand its currently available capacity if it's to meet this demand.

"With more and more essential services, including medical, education and government services, being delivered digitally and on mobile devices, finding a solution to 'peak data' will become ever more important into the future."

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