Demand for video and TV on smartphones is threatening to take down the UK 3G mobile infrastructure, according to reports.
Mobile operator O2 is to spend millions of pounds in the coming year upgrading networks to meet mobile web demand, which has increased by a factor 18 in the past year.
Other UK mobile networks have been struggling to keep up with user demand, resulting in extremely slow download speeds and loss of service.
Watching video on a smartphone can use the same capacity on the mobile network as sending 500,000 text messages at the same time, according to O2.
The UK's broadband infrastructure is also being pushed to the limit by demand for video streaming, which according to networking firm Cisco will make up 90% of consumer web traffic by 2013.
The growing popularity of watching TV online is one of the biggest challenges to broadband networks, with 30 minutes of streaming video equivalent to sending 78,000 e-mails.
Internet service providers believe video-on-demand sites will become unusable unless the UK's broadband network is upgraded by replacing copper wiring with fibre optics.
The UK's average download speed is 4.75 megabits per second, which is way below the 11.25Mbps needed to download high-definition video from websites such as iTunes.
Research shows the UK is lagging behind when it comes to high-speed broadband, ranking only 25th out of 65 countries in a recent survey by Cisco.
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