AT&T has submitted a document to the FCC in the process of trying to get that T-Mobile merger approved, and it reveals that AT&T was overwhelmed by the amount of smartphone data traffic it had to push through with the arrival of the iPhone. 2010 saw an 8000% jump in data rates over 2007, according to the document, which adds that "a smartphone generates 24 times the mobile data traffic of a conventional wireless phone, and the explosively popular iPad and similar tablet devices can generate traffic comparable to or even greater than a smartphone." The total apparently went up to 10 petabytes of data per month in 2010. Because of all that data, AT&T is trying to suggest that it "faces network capacity constraints more severe than those of any other wireless provider."
And while AT&T says that connecting with T-Mobile will help both companies be better able to handle their data issues, things aren't going to get easier. The company expects to deliver the same amount of data it served in 2010 in just the first five weeks of 2015.
Lest the FCC start feeling bad for AT&T and its predicament, don't forget that by connecting with Apple for the iPhone in the first place, AT&T gladly took the bullet for all of that data. But yes, AT&T and other data providers have quite a goal in front of them, considering how fast consumer data consumption is growing thanks to Apple's devices.