How Siri Could Hurt Everyone's Cell Service

She's a giant 'bandwidth guzzler': Paul Farhi
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2012 1:48 PM CST
Updated Jan 29, 2012 8:00 AM CST
How Siri Could Hurt Everyone's Cell Service
A man uses Siri on the iPhone 4S.   (Getty Images)

Siri is knowledgeable, convenient, even funny—but she has a dark side. "Siri’s dirty little secret is that she’s a bandwidth guzzler, the digital equivalent of a 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H1," writes Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. Indeed, the iPhone 4S, which brought us Siri, uses twice the data of the regular iPhone 4, and almost three times that of the 3G, a study found, saying the Siri-equipped 4S "appears to unleash data consumption behaviors that have no precedent.”

And that's not just a matter for 4S users: Network congestion affects everyone's service, slowing connections and dropping calls. Networks can boost service—but only up to a point. "No matter how many cell towers we throw up, sooner or later we’ll bump up against the rigid limits of the electromagnetic spectrum," Farhi notes. How to fix this is an open question: Do we reduce data usage? Shift TV and radio airwaves to make room for phones? It's a matter we'll have to address eventually, Farhi writes. "Hey, Siri: Can we all learn to share?" (Read more iPhone stories.)

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