Tablets could change capacity planning

Kate Gerwig
09 Mar 2011

Wireless operators don’t often have job listings for cultural psychologists, but with the surge of tablet devices about to hit 3G and 4G wireless networks, maybe they should.

Depending on the dimensions and weight of the individual tablet, operators should take note that tablet devices could transform user behavior in terms of where people use tablets to access specific applications.

Why should operators care? If users tend to access all of their tablets’ features more fully while stationary as opposed to while moving -- watching video at a hotspot or an in-home Wi-Fi network rather than while walking, for example -- then operators may need to adjust their 3G/4G network offload and capacity planning strategies.

Where and how subscribers use tablet devices could result in heavier reliance on Wi-Fi hotspots and femtocell deployment, and both options have mobile backhaul implications.

While not a card-carrying cultural psychologist, telecom consultant Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp, has become a bit of a mobile behaviorist, arguing that consumers have a different kind of relationship with their mobile broadband services than with their wireline services.

“Certain behaviors encourage the use of certain appliances and vice versa, and both of these affect the demand for bandwidth and the nature of where that demand will occur,” Nolle said.

He believes that the slower users move, the more likely they are to use more capacity. “That has an enormous influence on network capacity planning,” he added.

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