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Can mobile operators keep up with rising traffic demands?

Posted: 11 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LTE Advanced? carrier aggregation? smartphones? mobile data?

The growing thirst for more wireless data is driven mostly by the increasing transfer of pictures and video on smartphones. Think WeChat, Youku, and Baidu Yun for starters. What's more, the appetite for bigger screens and ever-higher resolutions is gobbling up even more data with each new smartphone generation. Subscribers don't usually associate their new, bigger smartphoneswith their larger screens and higher resolutionwith consuming more data, but it is also a big factor in monthly data budgets.

Smartphone evolution

Figure 1: Here's how smartphone hardware has evolved.

And smartphone cameras have ever-growing pixel counts, with rear ones of 20MP and front ones of 5MP becoming more common. You can imagine that even higher pixel counts are coming, with their resulting greater data consumption. The chart below illustrates the exponentially higher bandwidth required for each new generation of displays, from quarter VGA (QVGA) through Ultra High Definition (UHD).

Smartphone requirements

Figure 2: New generation of displays demand higher bandwidth.

Network giant Cisco Corp. estimates that mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual rate of 65 per cent from 2013 through 2018. Consequently, both network capacity and device throughput must outpace this growth to improve user experience of both consuming and (increasingly) generating all of this traffic. The chart below illustrates the application and use cases contributing to mobile traffic growth in China, while the experiences in other parts of Asia are likely similar.

Mobile app trends

Figure 3: Which apps contribute to mobile traffic growth in China?


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