David Sharpley, Bridgewater Systems
01 Jun 2010
The mobile data industry is struggling to keep up with the exponential growth in data traversing service provider networks, triggered by growing 3G penetration, lower-cost smartphones and the invention of USB laptop dongles.
This has resulted in heavily congested networks in many urban centers - where often 80% of data traffic is managed by just 10% of cell sites. Bandwidth hungry services are exacerbating the problem, with video expected to account for 64% of mobile data traffic on the network within the next three years.
The result: dropped data sessions, slow network speeds and pent up subscriber frustration.
Many operators are now adopting a range of strategies including optimization of 3G networks using intelligent policy control, mobile data traffic offload and transformation to 4G that will reduce costs and alleviate network congestion.
Mobile data offload in particular can deliver costs savings in the range of 20% to 25% per annum. In the US market, operators could save between $30 billion and $40 billion per year by 2013.
Offload – the ability to shift mobile data traffic from one network to another in a way that is transparent to the subscriber – is a key component of an effective network congestion reduction strategy.
By shifting data traffic from the 3G network to Wi-Fi or femtocells, for example, operators can reduce costs and improve economies of scale by balancing traffic demands across networks.
Operators implementing a data offload strategy can address a number of congestion pain points including overburdened core network elements and congested cell sites. By routing traffic directly to the internet before it reaches core network elements, such as the SGSN, GGSN and service grooming servers, operators can reduce backhaul costs.