Jim Machi is Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dialogic. Here he shares his views about the Wireless Data Challenge.
We’ve all read about the surge in wireless data traffic that has happened the past few years and is expected to continue going forward. You probably know people who own a smartphone and an iPad and a laptop and use all of them. Or you know people who are simply glued to their iPhones seemingly all day. So in your little world, you get it. But it is hard to comprehend what this means on a global basis.
For the last few years, the Cisco Visual Networking Index report has been a good way to check out what’s going on. Simply go to the website and download the report. There was an update published right before Mobile World Congress and it has some excellent little tidbits including:
- Mobile video traffic exceeded 50% for the first time last year
- Smartphones represent only 12% of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 82% of total global handset traffic
That last point holds a key about whether the mobile data surge will continue. Because if smartphones represent only 12% of total global handsets today, what will happen if they represent say, 50% of total global handsets? The biggest growth potential is in developing countries.
Dialogic recently collaborated with IDC Asia on a Telecom Trends and Insight report called “Confronting Telecom’s Network Challenge.” While this report is specific to Asia, certainly there are parallels with the developing parts of Asia and the developing parts of Africa and South America. The report states, “Perhaps the biggest opportunity for service providers across the region will be in emerging Asia, with the introduction of US$100 smartphones. For the past five years, the costs of Blackberrys and iPhones have been prohibitive for the vast majority of the population in emerging Asia, but this does not negate the aspirations or strong desire for mobile technology in these countries.”
In other words, more economical smartphones will make a huge impact on mobile data traffic! Or put another way, data and video traffic will surely continue.
So the question becomes, how do service providers satisfy their subscribers while at the same time make money? After all, there will clearly be network stress for many years to come. So there are going to have to be solutions, most likely a combination of them.
One solution is the implementation of pricing plans to limit the ‘bandwidth hogs.’ This has already happened and the wireless service providers will likely continue to tune this.
But there are other solutions as well, such as making the cellular networks faster and/or upgrading the networks. However, while that makes the connection faster, it may actually have an interesting side effect. That is, since it is faster, people will use it more! In fact, according to the Cisco VNI report, a 4G connection generated 28 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection!
So now what? Another possible solution is to offload the mobile traffic to fixed networks. An example of this is when you are on Wifi, say sitting in a city café, or in your own home. The data coming to or from your laptop, tablet or smartphone will be on the WiFi wireless network, but that’s only for the first or last 100 feet. According to the Cisco VNI report I mentioned earlier, that is already 33% of the traffic to smartphones and tablets.
But since you are not always going to be close to a WiFi connection or some kind of femtocell, what else can you do? The IDC “Confronting Telecom’s Network Challenge Report” also gives another viewpoint on this. The report says, “Telcos across the region have experienced a surge in mobile network and congestion, and many have been forced to invest heavily in backhaul infrastructure, increased capacity and network optimization.”
In other words, another potential remedy to the bandwidth crunch issue is to install mobile backhaul optimization and network optimization solutions. These solutions can provide ROI to the service provider in as little as four to six months. Read the report and visit our optimization webpage for more information.
You are invited to attend Dialogic's Networking Drinks Reception at East Africa Com taking place at 5pm today by the outdoor pool at the Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi, Kenya.