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But who’s to blame?

01 марта 2010

Because of my current research interests, most of my meetings at MWC 2010 in Barcelona were about mobile broadband and in particular, the crunch that network operators experience as usage soars.

At his press conference, Ericsson’s CEO seemed to breeze by the issue in a “Brave New World” speech (why do these always remind me of films from the 1939 New York World’s Fair?). But it came up in meetings with the rest of his company and with every other vendor I met with from Tier 1 network vendors (Alcatel-Lucent, NSN, Huawei), to OSS vendors (Amdocs, Comverse, Convergys, Telcordia), to mobile backhaul vendors (RAD, Cambridge) and of course with Femtocell vendors (Airvana) and specialists like Allot. It was the “elephant in the living room” in a Telecom TV panel discussion I did on WiFi and it even came up in a discussion with over-the-air TV chip maker Telegent who proposes their solution as a way to off-load streaming TV traffic from the mobile network.

In every meeting the following question either arose naturally out of the discussion or I forced the issue and asked it directly:

Are dongles (mobile broadband modems) or smartphones to blame for the problem?

Hardly surprising that the answers were almost equally balanced between the one and the other i.e. both are to blame. But depending on the country, the principal blame will lie ether with smartphones or with dongles.

In developed markets like North America and Western Europe, the blame lies with smartphones. Sometimes it is bad protocols or bad settings and so sometimes just a software refresh by the device manufacturer gets things under control. But most of the damage is done by apps that constantly poll the network for new information. As the king of the app ecosystem, the Apple gets singled out but the issue isn’t the iPhone per se but the types of applications advanced smartphones like the iPhone encourage users to install.

In emerging markets like Latin America or Eastern Europe or developing Asia Pacific, the issue is dongles. Lack of adequate fixed broadband and heavy marketing by mobile operators mean that 3G wireless connections are increasingly the primary means of accessing the internet in these countries. As I have written elsewhere, that means the devices are stationary instead of in motion, connected for long periods of time instead of just for brief dips into an app or for a quick search and they are often used for heavy video or even peer-to-peer traffic. To state the obvious, this is not the kind of use-case the 3GPP standards bodies had in mind.

The solutions are many but they basically boil down to variations of the following

  • Optimization of device protocols
  • Traffic shaping and prioritization
  • Pricing schemes beyond flat-rate that encourage economic use of mobile broadband
  • Off-loading fixed-use case traffic to fixed networks
  • Waiting for LTE

Of these only “Waiting for LTE” is anything more than a stop-gap, a way to slow down traffic growth and hope that LTE arrives before the seemingly inevitable crash of 3G networks.

By Wally Swain, Senior Vice President, Yankee Group


Источник: 4G Trends

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