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Mobile World Congress 2010: Mobile Network Architecture Takes Center Stage

The following is a summary of my most recent post on based on Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic forecast and interview with Cisco's Andy Capener,  Director of Service Provider Marketing for mobility.
The Internet is becoming mobile. As with mobile phones, more people will be getting online wirelessly than with a fixed broadband connection.  While the first 50 years of internet was defined by a "wired" connection, the next five will be defined the wireless internet.

By 2014, Cisco predicts that mobile data traffic will increase a staggering 39 fold from 2009 to 3.6 exabytes per month globally (an exabyte, by the way, is equal to one billion gigabytes). Today, the average mobile broadband connection generates 1.3 GB of traffic per month, but by 2014 that number is projected to grow to 7 GB per month.
vni_growth.jpgMore video on mobile networks. Following a similar trend with the fixed internet, video content will account for 66% of all data traffic on mobile networks by 2014, a 66-fold increase from 2009 to 2014. While watching video on current generation mobile networks is often slow, faster WiMAX and 4G networks will create a better user experience driving consumption and demand even further.
More mobile devices and new form factors. According to the report, by 2014 there will be an estimated five billion personal devices connecting to mobile networks, as well as billions of machine-to-machine devices. There will also be new larger, more media-rich types of devices such as tablet PCs as well as the Apple iPad.
So what are the implications of this data growth on mobile networks? How are mobile operators going to deal with this tidal wave of data demand and more importantly, how are they going to do so profitably?
One of these companies helping to solve this challenge is Starent Networks which was acquired by Cisco last October. The company has racked up an impressive list of more than 100 customers including Vodafone, Verizon, Sprint, KDDI and China Unicom among many others.
According to Andy Capener, Director of Service Provider Marketing for mobility at Cisco, operators will need to focus on two attributes of their network; performance and intelligence. "Service providers will be able to keep up with the demand of mobile data and remain profitable, but they cannot do so passively," says Capener. "The intelligence of the network will be crucial and operators will need to understand how their customers are using the network in order to offer them more differentiated and premium types of services."

Link to the complete article (PDF)

Carl Townsend
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