Let's face it. Before Apple released the iPhone mobile data was a "nice to have."
Apple made it a necessity.
Before the iPhone, those of us who were using other devices, mostly Nokia or Windows Mobile handsets pretty much had free reign on the networks and the network data folks were pretty much the castoffs, fighting the voice folks who run the mobile companies for as much bandwidth as they could get their hands on.
Now, thanks largely to the iPhone, and in some places, the Google Android, and in other markets, the INQ phones on 3 (like in the UK) mobile data being consumed on handsets (as well as on USB dongles) is increasing. And in those places, we're hearing more and more stories of the networks choking.
I thought the iPhone problems in the USA on both coasts were bad, where the apps just wait and wait, harking back to an era of dial up on AOL, but here in London its even worse, as the O2 network is pretty much slammed by iPhone users. On Sunday I think the train arrived faster than the app that tells me how to get around London would load the data set from the servers, and we all know that in the UK, the trains don't always run on time.
The point I'm making is that our "mobile data" networks are being crushed, and each day as more data ready handsets are being sold, the load factor is increasing, faster than the mobile operators can increase both access and network capacity. For a company like AT&T which has so many "networks" to contend with, this is a near critical matter that will only get resolved when the architect one total network that shares the resources they have in the ground and in the sky vs. the patchwork they currently have going.
For users, we'll enjoy what we have, but bitch and complain at the same time. Simply because we don't have any real options just yet. With LTE a few years away, we'll just have to expect more and more traffic james on the information superhighway.