Real Time Communications Featured Article

Mobile Network Challenges & Solutions - How Mobile Service Providers Can Thrive as Demand Soars

September 09, 2014

The new LTE networks service providers have launched in recent years - and continue to turn up today, deliver IP capabilities and the potential for faster connections. But even as mobile network operators continue to invest in new and better networks, they struggle to keep up with the massive growth in bandwidth demand and subscriber growth.

Here’s a taste of what happening on the device proliferation and subscribership front:

• 34 million Americas will have mobile broadband devices by the end of 2015, as compared to nearly 50 percent in 2013.

• Mobile subscribers are expected to reach 7 billion users by the end of this year, according to the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, in May of this year.

• The U.N. also reports that mobile broadband subscriber penetration is poised to reach 32 percent worldwide, or 2.3 billion users, by next year.

These statistics, meanwhile, offer a view into what’s happening in terms of mobile network usage, where bandwidth-loving video, online shopping, and Wi-Fi are all on fast upward tracks.

• 29 percent of online shopping is via smartphone, according to the April 2014 Branding Brand, Mobile Commerce Index.

• About 50 million U.S. consumers watched videos on their mobile phones by the end of 2013.

• Worldwide video viewing via mobile went up 719 percent worldwide since 2011, representing 18 percent of all video viewing, according to the Ooyala 4q 2013 Global Video Index, which was released in March.

• 57 percent of wireless data traffic is carried over Wi-Fi, and that’s forecast to increase to 64 percent by 2018, according to the 2014 Cisco Visual Networking Index. 

Mobile network service providers are working to figure out how best to optimize their networks (and moneitize some of the rich, multimedia content that runs over them) and policies to reduce the per megabit cost of bandwidth. To address that, some service providers are working to optimize popular content at the edge, for example – better, “HD” experiences consumers are willing to pay a premium for.

Service providers are also creating their own applications, and working with third-party application providers, to build solutions that more efficiently leverage network resources, and are better positioned to scale, more secure, and can be introduced more quickly. A new technology called WebRTC can help with some of that.

Mobile backhaul is also a major cost center for service providers operators, and continues to grow as more applications – including real-time traffic such as video and voice, and more devices – including both subscriber-based and machine-to-machine-based endpoints, come on to the network.

Wi-Fi offload/video redirect offers the greatest potential for SDN-related operational expense savings, according to the firm, which forecasts a potential savings of 70 percent (or $3,144 million) by 2017 in this space. Other top applications on this front include cloud RAN (at $2,173 million), local breakout/Internet IXP (at $1,832 million), metro aggregation/load redistribution (at $1,219 million), and small cells (at $591 million).

Here’s a rundown of the potential SDN-related mobile backhaul savings that real time communications service providers in other regions of the world stand to realize, according to Strategy Analytics:

  • North America - $1,263 million;
  • Western Europe - $1,253 million;
  • Middle East & Africa - $368 million;
  • Central & Eastern Europe - $255 million; and
  • Caribbean & Latin America - $201 million.

So savings on the one hand – new revenues on the other – and always top of mind should be keeping customers happy and attracting new ones by providing a better quality, continuously connected experience.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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