Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Future of Mobile Networks

The world has definitely gone mobile. According to the International Communications Union, more than 85 percent of the world’s population now enjoys access to a mobile phone. Further research from the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) reveals that almost half of all mobile users are consuming video, music, books, and games on their mobile devices on a regular basis.

The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that these trends will cause global mobile data traffic to increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017. Global mobile traffic will continue to grow at a rate three times faster than that of fixed IP traffic over this same time period. This outlook is great news for mobile network operators, as revenues from global mobile data services reached US$320 billion in 2011—more than the combined revenues of the music, movie, ISP service, and cable television industries, according to a 2012 assessment by Chetan Sharma Consulting.

While the demand for mobile is unquestionable, the definition of mobile is rapidly changing due to changes in technology, the market, and customer behavior. These factors are redefining what a mobile network is and what it needs to deliver, including near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi-enabled devices, a “nomadic” rather than an on-the-go lifestyle, next-generation hotspots, and small-cell technology.

Given the changes occurring in the mobile marketplace, Cisco IBSG has identified four possible scenarios of how networks could evolve to deliver mobility: 1) mobile only, 2) Wi-Fi only, 3) mobile max, Wi-Fi min, and 4) Wi-Fi max, mobile min. Of these, IBSG believes two scenarios present the best opportunities for delivering mobility: Wi-Fi and small-cell networks—a heterogeneous network (“HetNet”) world where licensed and unlicensed mobile networks co-exist and complement each other, enabling a next-generation mobile operator with Wi-Fi at its core network.

These four network scenarios will co-exist—each with its own unique features and value-add—enabling operators to further monetize their mobile services by providing both coverage in challenging locations and capacity in high-usage venues. In this way, operators can improve network economics, address spectrum challenges, tap new markets, and enhance the customer experience.

Download the paper

No comments: