Wireless Bandwidth: When Is Too Much Enough

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Wireless Bandwidth: When Is Too Much Enough

  1. 1. Service Provider Mobility: Wireless Bandwidth: When is too much, enough? Posted by Patrick Buthmann Jul 20, 2009 The end-user experience is a very unique one. Each person has their own idea of when their experience is "good" enough, and some people (myself included) fall into the category of "when I have too much, then I'll admit to having enough". When it comes to bandwidth to the end-user, this is especially true. When I lived in Canada, I had a cable connection with 18 Mbps (downstream) to my home, and I thought that was almost "enough". Yet now that I've moved to Europe, I find several companies are offering fibre services, with bandwidths reaching and exceeding 100 Mbps to the home. I now start to look at those as being "almost enough". In the mobile space, we've seen growth from GPRS and the equivalent of 33.6K dial-up type speeds, to varying flavours of 3G (speeds upwards of 14.4 Mbps in ideal circumstances) and the promise of 100 Mbps bandwidth with various 4G technologies (WiMAX, LTE-Advanced etc). So I often ask myself, and I often ask customers, co-workers et al, "what would you do with 100 Mbps bandwidth to your mobile device?" Is bandwidth by itself going to open the opportunities for new applications, new services, and most importantly, new revenue streams for the Service Providers? At what point in time does bandwidth become "enough" for the average, paying consumer? Video calls and video conferencing were supposed to drive the initial 3G rollouts, with nearly every model of 3G enabled mobile phone including a front mounted camera for voice calls. Heck, video capable home phones were predicted in the 1950s and 1960s, yet there are still very few available units, and probably even less demand (despite the fact that the wired infrastructure exists in the Western World to support them now). Generated by Jive SBS on 2009-12-07-07:00 1
  2. 2. Service Provider Mobility: Wireless Bandwidth: When is too much, enough? Video calling was largely a wash in the mobile space, and instead mobile TV became the rumoured killer application for 3G handsets (and beyond). Once again, mobile TV did not have the take-up rate that was expected (or perhaps hoped for) by the operators. Yet sites like Youtube have flourished, even over the mobile networks. Back onto my original point, and that is regarding mobile bandwidth. Would having 100 Mbps, or even 20 Mbps available to each individual handset drive the creation of new, killer applications for the end-user, and a new revenue generating business model for the Service Providers? What are the limiting factors in driving mobile applications? Is it bandwidth? Is it the lack of pure, IP transport? Is it user interface (screen size, keyboard size, cursor control etc)? Perhaps a whole new generation of smartphones will be developed, with larger screen sizes yet more portable than our current notebook (or even Netbook) computers? Perhaps a smartphone / mobile internet device that is completely dockable. IE, at home, you have a docking station that you plug into, with a larger screen, keyboard, mouse etc. Yet when you leave for the office in the morning, you take your smartphone / MID with you, and your 'PC' becomes something that you carry everywhere. The cloud computing concept has returned, and we now appear to have the bandwidth for it to really take hold. Perhaps cloud computing will drive the adoption of 4G technologies more than anything else; not just your data, but your applications hosted online as well, and licensed by the Service Provider (there's that new revenue stream). In fact, while Apple has the AppStore, and RIM has the Blackberry AppWorld, Google has come out and said that locally run applications are not the wave of the future, and that all apps will be cloud based. Even the next generation of Microsoft Office (2010) will have a free, online version. So yes, I can see a viable use for 20 Mbps (or greater) bandwidth to my mobile device. And I can see areas in which the operators can start planning now on how to monetize those applications. 326 Views Generated by Jive SBS on 2009-12-07-07:00 2
  3. 3. Service Provider Mobility: Wireless Bandwidth: When is too much, enough? Jul 28, 2009 11:44 AM David Almstrom it is never going to be enough.. We always strive for more and with more bandwidth we can do more. We also learn to cope with limitations. Like when I am on the roads in Asia, sometimes, at best, I will be able to get some 9-18K of bandwidth (1-2 timeslots) of ad-hoc access, with which if I am lucky can download optimized email to my E75. But with access to some 100 Mbps and beyond, with my laptop I could have full backup done, I download new software, run cloud computing (particularly if latency is not an issue which it is in almost all mobile networks and also mobile phones). Maybe 3D will be a reality - though video has not taken off beyond youtube (et al), maybe the social networking aspect of the Internet will push the mobiles to some new levels which only could happened with some 10-folds increase in mobile computing capacity (3-4 years from now) and 100M+ bandwidth. Wait and see Jul 29, 2009 5:32 AM Patrick Buthmann David Almstrom in response to While I certainly agree that it will never be enough (especially not for someone like me, who could always use more bandwidth, electronic or otherwise), I do think the situation is rapidly arriving where we need the "killer application" to drive the adoption and usage of high bandwidth mobile networks. I can think of a number of ideas myself, but just because I would buy it, doesn't mean the general public would (I've had both a Nokia N800 and N810, and both were just a tad ahead of their time). I also agree that the cloud computing concept is likely to be just that killer application. An environment in which your storage is no longer associated with any particular hard disk, or PC, or even any individual data centre. You simply point your file manager to your "Storage" folder, and get the data you need, regardless of where you are in the world. And with significant enough bandwidth, one could theoretically keep all of your data and applications in the cloud, regardless of size (ie, store movies in the cloud, and stream them to your mobile device when walking, or to your laptop when you're in the hotel room). I could finally stop carrying an external harddrive with me whenever I travel. The question isn't so much can we dream up scenarios in which we could use that level of bandwidth, but rather can it be monetized by the operators yet still be affordable and desirable for the crowd who aren't early adopters? It needs to be a compelling enough business case for the operators to want to invest, and it needs to be a compelling enough Generated by Jive SBS on 2009-12-07-07:00 3
  4. 4. Service Provider Mobility: Wireless Bandwidth: When is too much, enough? sales argument to convince customers to not only entrust their data, but quite likely their applications to their Service Provider (for a monthly fee, no less!). I think the rise of Netbooks as a viable computing experience is leading the way in pushing us this direction. I also think the adoption of broadband technologies will spell the death of physical media soon as a distribution method (CDs and DVDs, primarily). Imagine a cross- country road-trip with your family, in which your children sit in the backseat and watch the latest movie(s) streamed live at 75 MPH. Technology is building the infrastructure to support such an environment currently. We need the service providers, content owners and governments to assist in making the environment profitable, desirable and affordable. Patrick Generated by Jive SBS on 2009-12-07-07:00 4

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