As AT&T Slows 3G Upload Speeds, Startups Are Busy Developing Data Compression Technology

It was reported this morning that AT&T may be quietly hindering 3G upload speeds in hopes of curbing network strain, reacting to yet another influx of iPhone devices hitting its network daily.  While nothing has been formally announced, several readers of GigaOM have complained that their upload speeds have decreased substantially- from over 1 Mbps to under 100 Kbps over the last few days.

It would make sense, as the company recently enacted tiered data pricing plans for new and current customers who wanted to make the switch, but is it truly necessary?  Some innovative startups say it’s not, and that the answer lies with data compression instead.  A company called Human Monitoring, which offers “software based video processing solutions based on  algorithmic innovation,” has developed a solution that can cut the data traffic associated with images in half.

The solution, dubbed “Hipix,” was built in conjunction with Korean firm, Innoace, which can turn a typical eight megapixel MMS image into a package of no more than 300 KB of data.  The technology is being developed solely for the Korean market at the moment, but it signifies the future of data-strained networks and a solution to the growing problem.  Hipix is patent pending technology which utilizes an existing H.264 video codec to achieve between two to five times still image compression when compared to a typical JPEG image on a mobile phone.

The solution is notable as it helps solve the problem without the need to modify hardware of any kind.  Data compression done in the cloud before being sent to end-user devices has the potential to significantly reduce overall data on networks.  Though it’s just one piece of the puzzle, it’s definitely a start.  I see technology like this revolutionizing mobile data in the very near future.  Data compression is the reason Opera has made such inroads with its Opera Mini browser, and replicating that concept in the mainstream can do wonders.