CTIA recently held its 26th show, in Orlando on March 21–24. AT&T stole the buzz with its announced intent to purchase T-Mobile.
Skyrocketing projections of bandwidth demand driven by smart devices and the mobile Internet were the underlying theme throughout the week.
From a network infrastructure perspective, the show was devoid of new product introductions because the show occurs so soon after Mobile World Congress; many vendors did not even exhibit.
That aside, there were two hotspots: the red-hot market for IP packet core technologies and the continued growth of systems to support higher-capacity requirements for LTE.
We are also starting to see innovations targeted at addressing the coming challenge (or opportunity, depending on your perspective) presented by backhaul of traffic from micro- and picocells.
Mobile trends flow through the industry much like a wave, slowly rising until they reach a crest, and then attention moves to the next wave. Two years ago, the coming of LTE was hot, followed by IP Ethernet backhaul last year and EPC technology this year.
While EPC is not new, an increasing number of next-gen products and upgrades are hitting the market this year. Additionally, our meetings with equipment vendors suggest that RFP activity is up strongly versus last year with well over 50 EPC contracts already awarded.
New packet core systems promise to provide significant scale to handle the onslaught of projected mobile internet traffic and provide the key for unlocking the value hidden in the network.
Ovum estimates the number of connected devices is expected to reach 7.5 billion by 2015 (8% growth over the 2010–15 period); however, traffic is growing 85% over the same time frame, significantly raising the average bandwidth per user.