Competition for network resources has never been higher, and telcos aren't likely to get a break anytime soon.
IDC expects shipments of smart connected devices (a combination of PCs, smartphones and tablets) to expand 14% annually through 2016 -- after increasing 27% in Q2. ABI Research forecasts global LTE subs will hit 40 million by the end of the end the year -- a fourfold increase over 2011.
And according to an Ericsson study, global mobile data traffic will expand 15-fold by the end of 2017.
To deal with this surge in data, telcos worldwide spent $488 million on network planning and optimization software in 2011. Analysys Mason expects that market to grow at a 7% CAGR between 2011 and 2016.
The firm says that the growth is being fueled by the explosion of data usage driven by video streaming, the introduction of LTE, the increasing complexity of networks that include Wi-Fi and small-cell solutions, and the increased focus of operators on improving the customer experience.
As smart devices become more pervasive and drive bandwidth usage, mobile operators are faced with the challenge of giving subscribers a better customer experience (maximizing bandwidth for the individual sub) while at the same time optimizing their network resources (limiting the overall shared capacity).
The question is how can operators balance these two conflicting objectives?
Patrick Nijsters, Ericsson's principal engagement manager for Southeast Asia and Oceania, says combining intelligent policy control with flexible charging solutions gives the operator the means to address network resource optimization and influence bandwidth consumption.
Additionally, he notes this combination creates the opportunity to generate new revenues through segmentation, tiered service and bundling.