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Editorial Library Category: Mining Topics: Mining, Communication Title: Mining and Communication Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Mobile data traffic has increased enormously since 2007. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you; smart phones and tablets are suddenly everywhere, in ads and (even if you haven’t signed on personally) in your neighbor’s hands. Editorial: Mining and Communication 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Mobile data traffic has increased enormously since 2007. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you; smart phones and tablets are suddenly everywhere, in ads and (even if you haven’t signed on personally) in your neighbor’s hands. You can buy a cell phone that isn’t a smart phone, but the choices are limited and the retailers clearly want you to buy something nicer; namely, something that requires buying a data plan as well. You can’t even buy an iPhone, for example, without getting a data plan to go with it unless you are willing to shell out the money for the full-price cost of the phone. That’s a lot more immediate out-of-pocket expense than if you just sign the contract, get the cheapest data plan you can, and let the cell phone company subsidize you so that you only have to pay a couple of hundred for the phone. Besides, where’s the fun in buying the nicest phone on the market (whatever your definition of that happens to be) and then not buying the data plan to go with it? Data plans aren’t quite so integral to the tablet market, but again, the whole thing works depends on having Internet access. The only wires involved are for charging your device or, occasionally, connecting it to your computer through a cable that has a USB connector. What qualifies as an enormous increase in mobile data traffic? In this context, it means the data traffic is 400 times more now than it was in 2007. Considering the fact that this period of time includes the Great Recession, this significant increase has to be considered as an indicator for one of the great triumphs of modern marketing, even though much of the credit for that goes to the fact that marketers have had truly incredible products to sell. You could even say, to a certain extent, that these products have done a good job of selling themselves to an enamored public. Even so, the ads and the airy retail stores certainly haven’t hurt anything. Apple and Al Gore, who is a member of the board for Apple, have made the claim that Apple’s data centers use 100 percent renewable energy. What is actually meant by this claim is that Apple supplements its energy usage from the energy grid in the data center at Maiden, NC, with solar power; Apple also buys biograss credits there that compensate, in some measure, for burning natural gas to run its 10 MW Bloom fuel cells. Unfortunately, buying biograss credits is not the same as not burning natural gas at all. In California and Oregon, Apple uses what is on the energy grid, but it pays to specify that energy purchases for that grid will include local forms of renewable energy. This is a program that will sound very familiar to Utah residents, who have seen the same program through the local electrical utility. Using green energy for any purpose is undoubtedly a good (and politically correct) thing, but it ignores the fact that green energy is only a part of the entire energy package, even for the data centers, and the data centers account for only two percent of the company’s carbon emissions; it also ignores the fact that many companies have data centers, and Apple’s share is about 0.5 percent globally. The rest of the carbon emissions are created during manufacturing and from the products themselves once they’ve been purchased and put to work in people’s offices and homes. Admittedly, Apple does have a strong market share when it comes to smartphones (15 percent) and tablets (40 percent). What you may not realize is that it takes as much energy to make a computer as it takes to put a refrigerator together. About half of that energy is used to manufacture the semiconductors. And, when you are collecting numbers to determine energy costs, it’s also important to remember the communications networks. Everything comes at a price, and it turns out that mobile networks use more energy than wired networks to move a unit of data. How much more? It turns out that in terms of energy cost, moving a unit of data through a wireless network requires 100 times more energy than moving the same unit of data through one that has wires. It might be helpful to consider the U.S. electrical energy grid as it exists today. For one thing, it consists of 3,200 utilities and has been called the largest machine in the world