The news from the frontlines of the impending network overload seems to be getting more grim. Not only does the march of data hogging device continue to gain momentum, but now there are reports that the industry is getting cold feet over the cost of the solution.
That’s according to Howard Baldwin writing in Computerworld magazine:
“As with all things mobile, there are no simple answers, if only because potential solutions rely on agreement among a sizable and incompatible array of players — from spectrum owners (both telcos and broadcasters) and regulators to government agencies and, of course, consumers demanding the latest in cool devices and applications.”
Congestion is the source of the problem and it is being driven by both bandwidth demands and signaling that is consuming mobile base station resources.
On the bandwidth front, carriers have been most worried about the rapid growth of data hogging smartphones. In Oct. 2011, the CTIA reported that more 95.8 million smartphones were in operation in the US, up from 61.2 million at the start of 2011. Each smartphone consumes 24 times the data of a feature phone, but the biggest data hogs are tablets – which consume 120 times the data of a feature phone, according to MobileFuture.org.
On the signaling side, a report by investment bank Credit Suisse shows that 36% of basestations in the US are facing capacity constraints, which is defined as utilization rate of more than 80%. Across the globe, the number of base stations at that level of capacity totaled 23%.
In our lab tests, we’ve seen this signaling capacity impacted by smartphone apps that ping the network for data updates. In densely populated areas, these apps can congest the network and even deny voice callers access to the network.
Baldwin’s article points to several difficult decisions that need to be made to solve the capacity problem: buy more spectrum from the U.S. government, a position held by the CTIA, and buy more base station equipment. The challenge is the cost – more than $40 billion to double capacity – and cooperation.
Our Open Channel mobile traffic optimization technology is one solution that doesn’t cost billions and can improve bandwidth without new spectrum. In lab tests, the solution has been shown to reduce the amount of smartphone-generated mobile data traffic by as much as 66 percent for certain apps, and 44 percent across all apps supported by the software. With Open Channel, carriers can cost effectively reduce data traffic and increase battery life, without app or network changes and without impacting the user experience.