This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY Magazine.
Fourth-generation wireless technologies like LTE (News - Alert) and WiMAX promise to bring faster broadband connections and all-IP-based technology to cellular networks. In some places, they’re already doing it. But if you thought that means wireless service providers will have more than ample network capacity for the long term, or even for the immediate future, you thought wrong. With mobile data demand what it is, even some of these brand new 4G networks will soon be overwhelmed by rich media traffic.
Cellular network operators like AT&T (News - Alert) and Verizon already are taking steps to address all that through the introduction of more usage-based service packages, as opposed to selling services on an all-you-can-eat basis.
“I expect to see more experimentation with flexible and more creative data service bundles and offerings,” says Tekelec (News - Alert) CMO Susie Kim Riley. “For example, operators may introduce tiers for video, music or gaming services instead of pricing plans by the byte. These appeal to a wider range of customer segments, increasing retention and service plan personalization.”
Some wireless service providers also are doing bandwidth throttling to put the lid on capacity consumption from so-called bandwidth hogs. Clearwire (News - Alert) is one example of a company that has admitted to employing this procedure.
Meanwhile, some of the equipment providers that outfit – or hope to enable – mobile data networks are developing, delivering and, in some cases, deploying solutions that help wireless service providers more efficiently manage their networks and the applications that run over them.
For example, Eden Rock Communications (News - Alert) sells a real-time coordinated multimode resource optimization solution called Eden-NETT. It’s a controller that talks to thousands of base stations to get information about what’s happening on each channel.
Chaz Immendorf, president and CEO, says that provides wireless service providers a map of how best to allocate radiofrequency at any given time. As a result, a wireless service provider can realize capacity improvements on the order of 40 percent for LTE networks, Immendorf says.
While the Eden Rock solution puts the focus on the network infrastructure, some outfits have come out with solutions that target how applications and content are handled.
In this category, Opanga offers a video delivery optimization solution that prepositions content on endpoint devices. That way, service providers can offer customers the content of their choice for something like $1 a month, and preposition that content on devices so networks don’t get overloaded, explains Opanga CEO Dave Gibbons.
“We just think that has to happen,” he says.
The Opanga solution was in trials with service providers in the Americas as of late last year.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi