This Frost & Sullivan analyst briefing explores if LTE is the answer to service provider's data woes as well as other various short term measures that service providers are implementing and some of the long term solutions.
Is LTE Sufficient: Network Options for Data Management
Is LTE Sufficient? <br />Asia Pacific<br />
Explosive Mobile Traffic Data Growth<br />* Source: Reformatted Cisco VNI mobile (2011) data<br />
Growth of Smart Device<br /><ul><li>The growth of smartphones and M2M applications is expected to fuel the growth of data and exacerbate the bottlenecks faced by wireless service providers.</li></ul>Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
Diverging Growth Projections for ARPU and Traffic<br /><ul><li>The decoupling of data revenues and increasing data reduce the profit margins from data services, thereby making the expansion of networks less sustainable and justified.</li></ul>$<br />Cost<br />Revenues<br />Data having a larger ARPU share<br />Voice having a larger ARPU share<br />Time<br />Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
Course of Action – Short-Run Solution<br />Solution<br />Description<br />Radio Offload<br /><ul><li>WLAN offload is explored by AT&T and PCCW. Femto offload is explored by most major Japanese service providers and Sprint.
Offloading of data traffic from mobile network’s precious spectrum onto WLAN/Femto and transporting it back over theunderlying infrastructure like Digital Subscriber Line
Limits the transfer of data over a period of time; provides a means of achieving higher network efficiency but not necessary to user’s experience</li></ul>Bandwidth Cap<br /><ul><li>Various implementations would include bitrate limits, bursting, and individual bandwidth cap. These have been explored by many major operators in a bid to manage traffic.
Controlling the rate of different classes of traffic transversing the network and monitoring traffic for compliance with traffic contract</li></ul>Traffic Shaping<br /><ul><li>Implementations depend on overload conditions, traffic classifications, and self limiting sources. </li></ul>Deep Packet Inspection<br /><ul><li>Increasingly deployed in mobile networks, with some vendors like Ericsson integrating the solution across wireless and wireline
With more protocols using tunneling and encryption, deep packet inspection (DPI) is increasingly being used to analyze the traffic and work in conjunction with network policy servers.
Traditionally, placing content cached nearer to the edge of the network and to the end user reduces the traffic load across the network and latency and packet loss.</li></ul>Caching<br /><ul><li>Mobile and online Content Delivery Networkstill differ in their capabilities; however, this gap is closing. Many mobile implementations encompass compression, adaptive streaming, and transcoding.
Considerations would include frequency planning, re-optimization, underlying 2G service impact, and handset availability. It is explored by Elisa, CSL, Optus, Vodafone, and AIS.
With limited licensed spectrum, reuse of the existing 2G spectrum is becoming attractive. Due to the nature of radio propagation, this strategy can provide improved coverage and performance.</li></ul>Frequency Re-Farming<br />
Course of Action – Long-Term Solution<br />LTE & Radio Enhancements<br />Migration to All-IP<br /><ul><li>LTE providing additional capacity relief, network capabilities and QoS support
Software defined radios providing seamless evolution and CAPEX/OPEX savings
Planned macro nodes & uncoordinated local node deployments
Solutions like ALU’s LightRadio and NSN liquid radio with their smaller form factor & cloud like architecture
Converging of disparate networks and converged platforms
More effective management across different networks
Clearly delineated control and data plane and puts in place mechanisms that can be leveraged on for end-to-end QoS/QoE and network intelligence and exposure</li></ul>End-End Management and Delivery<br />Monetization of Network<br /><ul><li>Deep Packet Inspection, policy management, heuristic analysis, and charging capabilities enable more effective traffic management and enforcement.
Support of appropriate quality of experience (QoE) for premium users
Cloud-based caching and content distribution while maintaining mobility & Interactivity
Improved QoS, real-time subscriber knowledge, context, content filtering, and policy control to generate new business models
Tiered pricing, speed boost or bandwidth on demand, new service offerings, and differentiated pricing options
Network API exposures & ecosystem fostering allowing for new business models involving a two-sided model, API licensing, and application revenue sharing</li></li></ul><li>Aggregation<br />Layer<br />Radio Access<br />Edge and Core<br />Network<br />Alleviating Network Constraints<br /><ul><li>Strategies to address capacity constraint have to address the immediate constraints of the radio interface.</li></ul>Wireline<br />Access<br />Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
Addressing Radio Interface Constraints<br /><ul><li>Network capacity based on the current technology implementation and strategy of squeezing capacity out of the existing licensed spectrum would soon reach a critical point.
Barring the migration to Long Term Evolution (LTE), network operators would soon be faced witha choke point where they are unable to address the demand for data growth.</li></ul>Data Growth<br />Network Bandwidth<br />Traditional<br />Capacity<br />Expansion<br />Choke Point<br />Time<br />Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
Addressing Radio Interface Constraints<br /><ul><li>To address the immediate constraints of air interface capacities, network operators can implement various offloading strategies like frequency re-farming, WiFi offloading, and Femto deployment.
Strategies like WiFi offloading and Femto deploymenthave additional benefits of offloading radio access network traffic onto the underlying infrastructure like Digital Subscriber Line
It is expected that the growth of data traffic will outpace the growth of network capability, and traffic offload will still be a viable solution even after LTE migration.</li></ul>WiFIOffloading<br />Femto Deployment<br />Data Growth<br />Network Bandwidth<br />Frequency Re-Farming<br />Traditional<br />Capacity<br />Expansion<br />Choke Point<br />Time<br />Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
Analysis of WiFi Offload Strategy<br /><ul><li>Beyond upgrading of the existing node capacity or introduction of Macro/Micro/Pico nodes, operators are increasingly looking at WLAN/Femto offloading as a cost-effective alternative solution to manage the rapid growth in data.
Offloading of data traffic onto WLAN and Femto is increasingly becoming attractive as it provides the following benefits:
Data is offloaded from the Macro nodes and transported over the underlying transport network, which alleviates traffic not only on the radio interface but also on the backhauling
Reduced equipment cost, deployment/services cost, leasing and operating expenses
Cost savings associated with the spectrum license fee, as WLAN operates in the unlicensed spectrum
However, some factors such as the following have to be considered when implementing these offload strategies:
Constraint on whether the underlying infrastructure is owned by the operator or by a partner, and quality of service (QoS) arrangements have to be considered
Whether the underlying infrastructure is itself highly utilized
The cost and complexity associated with a large mesh WLAN network
Mobility considerations for WLAN likely to involve more complexities and cost
WLAN runs on a unlicensed network; its performance would depend on the interference in the area deployed</li></li></ul><li>Insufficient Capacity Growth to Meet Demand<br /><ul><li>Acquisition of LTE and re-farming of theexisting GSM band will be still insufficient to support the expected X26 increase in capacity growth over the next five years.</li></ul>Gap has to be filled be by re-farming the additional available spectrum and/or other wireless offload strategies like WiFi, Femto, and coordinated small cells.<br />*Assumption that operators acquire equal bandwidth in LTE spectrum and re-farm their existing GSM band<br />** Estimates are based on download capacities<br />Source: Frost & Sullivan.<br />
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