The introduction and wide availability of new services and applications has stimulated an enormous uptake in smartphones and new mobile devices, with a shift away from voice to data traffic. Also with the uptake of new bandwidth hungry services, such as IPTV and video-on-demand, service providers will require additional capacity to support the growth in demand.
There will clearly be a large increase in the amount of data consumed and an associated demand for more bandwidth. According to industry reports, by 2011 the average consumer will be consuming 20 gigabytes of data every month, forty times the 500 megabytes average monthly usage today. Singapore, as an example, has a very high mobile internet traffic from smartphone devices at around 85%.
This represents a huge opportunity for service providers to increase revenues. Industry reports anticipate mobile broadband revenue to reach $7.1 billion by 2015 in the developed part of the Asia-Pacific Region. However, it is also an enormous challenge, not just to scale up to meet the rate of growth in demand, but to do it profitably. Service providers need systems and processes in place to plan, manage and roll-out network capacity to meet this demand and support service levels. In order to do it profitably, they need to provision bandwidth on the same ‘just-in-time’ principles used by the manufacturing sector and charge for it accordingly
For most operators, the biggest challenge is managing constant ad hoc changes to their plans. Network planners must respond to:
- Last minute changes in assumptions of uptake and usage of new services
- Budget and budget allocations
- Equipment specifications
- Vendors selected
- Technical or operational problems encountered during the rollout process.
Many of these changes have a major effect, requiring a re-plan of the network build and rollout, which is an extremely time-consuming and resource intensive process.
Operators constantly make the distinction between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ services. Simple services required no network infrastructure changes or only minor capacity additions to the current network infrastructure. For network planners simple services, such as VOIP, can take at least 12 months to plan and launch.