Networks will have a major headache in 2011 and tablets will only make it worse — however wireless Ethernet microwave can ease the pain

April 27, 2011 // By DragonWave
Networks will have a major headache in 2011 and tablets will only make it worse — however wireless Ethernet microwave can ease the pain
The shift in the mobile network traffic profile from voice towards data is now indisputable. Even more significant is the fact that the largest proportion of this data is not just best-effort traffic such as web browsing or file downloads, but video streaming – which has high-bandwidth demands and is sensitive to network latency (or more precisely, variations in network latency).

With large screen, high performance connected devices emerging in 2010, this trend is likely to increase. 2010 has been the year of the tablet – the iPad tablet – and this is only one of many high performance connected devices we will see in 2011, with a multitude of Android, Linux, Microsoft and Blackberry devices already announced.

With the dramatic growth in mobile data, the divergence of traffic and revenue in mobile networks is well known, but let’s quantify the problem.

Looking at the problem in terms of ‘revenue per MByte’ demonstrates the true scale as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Revenue per MByte for various services

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The other significant factor in this equation is the capacity of each service. Whilst SMS and voice only require low capacities, mobile data (particularly mobile broadband for laptop and tablet computers) require data rates that approach fixed broadband. Expectations are in the region of at least 1Mbps per user.

Measured in terms of revenue per bit delivered, SMS is hugely profitable; voice is moderately profitable; mobile data is an expensive drain on resources.

Even with variations in usage, profile and traffic, the trend is clear. The revenue generated per Mb of network capacity has declined with the widespread adoption of mobile data usage, yet the total network cost is increasing rapidly to cope with the demand (Figure 1).


 
With the current thirst in mobile data showing no sign of diminishing, the implication is clear: the necessary exponential increase in network capacity cannot be delivered using traditional technologies, without either a dramatic reduction in profitability, or imposing a severe limit on capacity which is not a viable long-term strategy. The one certain outcome would be high subscriber churn and a resulting rapidly declining revenue. A step change in data delivery is essential as things will only get worse in 2011 and beyond.

However this problem can

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