News From Telecom World

Operators urged to meet mobile data demand

Posted on: October 22, 2008

By adopting a single provisioning approach with managed anchor points in the backhaul network, operators can effectively take charge of service rollout.

The recent 3G iPhone launch settled any lingering doubts about the mobile data explosion. One million users rushed to buy the must-have handset during the first 48 hours, and sales are set to reach 10 million by year-end.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Data has overtaken voice traffic across mobile networks. In addition to the myriad of devices already in use, new larger screens and 3G-enabled laptops will boost mobile data demand to unprecedented levels. Subscribers will demand mobile television, Internet browsing and access to Web 2.0 applications as a matter of course.

Mind the gap
Conservative estimates suggest we’ll be using 200 million mobile broadband-enabled devices by 2011. More and more devices have high-speed mobile data capabilities, and as screen sizes increase so do bandwidth demand and application requirements.

Today’s networks cannot handle these trends. To meet the challenge, mobile operators must manage rapid technology change in their networks.

These changes are occurring throughout the network, from the cell site through the backhaul network all the way to the core. Given the pace and frequency of the changes required, tactical network evolution is no longer the most efficient way forward. It is time for strategic change.

Call for action
The impact of new data services also raises considerable commercial challenges for operators. Although data rates are increasing twofold or fourfold annually in most networks, there has not been an accompanying rise in revenues. This combination of drivers gives rise to a “perfect storm”, whereby all aspects of the network -operational, engineering and commercial – are under constant strain.

To meet current traffic growth rates cost-efficiently, a decrease in the unit cost of bandwidth is imperative, by a factor of ten at a minimum. Operators can only realise these targets through reducing cost structures, increasing efficiency in the backhaul, streamlining operations and lowering operating expenses.

This is why operators must take a strategic approach to address the challenge of delivering bandwidth-hungry services across ever more complex mixtures of transport protocols. And they need to match these requirements with significantly re-adjusted cost structures.

This may seem like a radical proposition. After all, operators have made incremental, tactical technology changes in backhaul for good reasons. But change now happens too frequently for that process to be effective.

Flexible joints for networks
Operators must embrace a future-facing strategy to implement a single provisioning model that will deliver fast, accurate and scalable service delivery in a consistent fashion, regardless of service or traffic type.

Operators can achieve this model by creating unchanging, transport-agnostic managed anchor points in backhaul networks. These anchor points act like the flexible joints in the human body. They provide a stable and consistent structure while enabling the attached components – services and protocols – to flexibly evolve and grow as required.

They enable the backhaul network to support multiple protocols in parallel, with multiple service delivery options and multiple traffic types. They also enable network planners to deliver traffic via the most economic transport protocol available without impacting service quality.

This strategic change doesn’t need to be implemented across the network overnight, but should be planned within a timescale that recognises the speed of rising demand and the need for profitable service delivery.

Each mobile operator has its own pain point, whether it’s in the edge of the core network, in the aggregation network, or at the cell site. And that’s where the change and anchor point installation should begin. As particular pain points are relieved, the approach can be extended to the next stress point in the network until the whole network is evolved to a single, coherent, platform.

Re-adjusting cost structures
Operators need to act now, at the lower end of the demand curve and before data traffic volumes become overwhelming. If operators reduce cost structures in good time, they will be well positioned to compete in a highly competitive marketplace because their operational costs are kept at the lowest possible level. This can be achieved through consistently accurate service delivery over the lowest cost transport available (whether copper leased line or DSL, microwave or fibre).

Mobile broadband is a persistent phenomenon, and bandwidth demand for mobile data is only going to increase. The resulting capacity crunch is an opportunity for operators as much as it is a challenge. By adopting a single provisioning approach with managed anchor points today, they can effectively take charge of service rollout. The rewards are the lowest cost transport for every service and meeting customer expectations with monitored network quality.

By implementing consistent network management processes end to end throughout their infrastructure, operators can re-adjust their cost structures and realise a whole new level of efficiency. How about simplified operations and lower operating expenses? And most importantly, fast, accurate and scalable service delivery – the key to competitive edge.

Ben McCahill is director of mobile strategies at Tellabs.

Source: Total Telecom

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