After dumping Sprint a year ago (EVDO and all) I must say I’m more then excited to have fast cellular data enter my life. Or actually, maybe I’ll never see it again.

See the thing is that when you get a ton of 3G devices things slow down, and I mean dramatically. If you’ve ever been to a convention you know what I mean.

A flat-rate 3G data plan on iPhone would mean that the usage would start to shift from Wi-Fi to 3G. That would also boost the traffic, as lower prices could increase Apple’s current market share. At present it is estimated that Apple has sold just over 5.5 million iPhones, a number that could rise with carriers subsidizing the device to bring down the price to $200 from current $400-plus. And that could put the 3G networks under “stress.”

Most of the problem, if any, will crop up at the backhaul level. At present, the current 3G networks have a backhaul capacity of between 10-to-15 megabits per second, which is enough for the very short term, but it could become a big issue as more and more 3G iPhones and other new 3G phones go online. Bandwidth at the back end is going to start getting choked.

It’s already happening in Europe, where carriers are scrambling to add backhaul connections of either the microwave or the Ethernet kind to meet the growing bandwidth demand from 3G handsets. John Roese, CTO of Nortel, would describe it as the side effect of hyperconnectivity. [via]

Now, hopefully AT&T has planned for the data junkies trying to get a fix off their next gen network – but if adoption of the iPhone reaches the high goals that Steve-o predicts – I think EDGE will be a better option for many data users.

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