Rapid Wireless Expansion Calls for Innovative Network Solutions

by Matt Klassen on November 15, 2013

The wireless world is rapidly expanding, perhaps too rapidly though if current studies are accurate. According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report (PDF) the next six years will see rapid 4G LTE expansion, to the point where mobile subscriptions are expected to reach 9.3 billion, almost all of the world’s estimated population in 2019. This exponential growth comes as LTE will reach countries that have only started to enjoy 3G connectivity, and 3G reaches areas where wireless connectivity is currently only a pipedream.

As expected, most of the wireless connections over the next six years will continue to be in the shape of smartphones, for as countries enhance their networks, the ubiquitous phone will no longer be the feature phone, but the smartphone. This means that from the Bedouins in the Middle East to the rural farmers inChina, the phone in everyone’s hand six years from now will likely be a network connected smartphone.

But of course such exponential growth doesn’t come without drawbacks, as the proliferation of smartphones is expected to generate 10 times the current data traffic on wireless networks, and given the patchwork assembly of data networks we currently have, it’ll be interesting to see how carriers respond to these imminent challenges.

According to the Ericsson report, the rise of smartphones has been rapid, for although it took 5 years to reach the first billion smartphone users, it took only two additional years to double that number. That growth, the report suggests, will continue unabated, particularly as we see more and more low cost smartphones hit the market. In fact, by 2019 Ericsson estimates that smartphones will make up 60 percent of the overall mobile market, a significant rise from the 20-30 percent smartphones currently make up.

Given this estimated growth, one of the biggest challenges will be how to manage the increased strain on these networks, particularly as consumers begin to clamour for faster, more powerful network technology to meet the demands of the ever-evolving smartphone.

“They need to find innovative ways to deliver ever-increasing amounts of data to users of smartphones, tablets and other devices,” GigaOM analyst Colin Gibbs told the E-Commerce Times. “Building out LTE networks will be crucial for carriers in theU.S. and other markets in the next few years, but those carriers will also have to find ways to use Wi-Fi and other technologies to ease traffic on their cellular networks.”

Of course these improvements will have to be made without sacrificing current service, and of course within the constraints of the available wireless spectrum, especially given the fact that data use over the next six years won’t be confined to smartphones alone, as a new epoch of integrated technology is on the horizon, one that will include wearable gadgets and in-vehicle data connections.

While such a future presents a huge opportunity for wireless carriers to become a ubiquitous part of subscribers’ lives, the opportunity won’t be there if their networks can’t keep pace, and that means finding a new way to do business going forward, it means consolidation, it means partnerships. Simply put, it means thinking outside the box…and we all know how great carriers are at doing that.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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