Source: Internet Telephony Magazine
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
The results from a recent Synergy Research Group report on mobile Internet infrastructure show that the market is growing at an annual rate of 24 percent with the two key segments of mobile multimedia gateways and mobile IP backhaul growing at rates of 42 percent and 47 percent respectively.TeleGeography also reported that at the end of the second quarter of 2011 the number of 3G subscribers passed the 900 million mark, showing a 45 percent growth rate from the year prior.
4G subscriber numbers remain small due to the early stage of 4G deployments, but 3G subscribers are forecasted to reach more than 3 billion by 2015. “We forecast that the mobile Internet infrastructure market will continue to grow at an average 20 percent per year over the next five years. From 2010 to 2015, annual revenues from mobile IP backhaul will more than triple in size, while the growth rate for mobile multimedia gateways will not be too far behind,” says Synergy Research Group’s Jeremy Duke. “Imagine networks having to support almost 3 billion mobile broadband subscribers, and clearly the growth opportunities for the infrastructure vendors are very exciting. At the same time we expect to see some major shifts in market share over the coming years.”
Imagine networks having to support almost 3 billion mobile broadband subscribers, and clearly we should all be quite concerned that the current musical chairs type of service levels we have all come to experience where one gets kicked off as another comes on will probably only result in more people trying to get a seat with fewer chairs actually available.
Mass producing multimedia gateways, routers and other IP devices in a factory somewhere and selling them in to a market as fast as they can be made all sounds great, but nowhere in here is there a real physical network plan, or even concept, that is as uniform, scales, is as predictable and as reliable as a factory is for its ability to output products. The necessary investment in the fiber to all of the towers that must exist to support all of this wonderful data growth does not happen just because smartphones are mass produced.
Forecasting is an extrapolation that relies on the study control, or constant to remain just that – constant, or the same. This makes no sense in mobile Internet backhaul projections. How can the underlying network that got us all to this point (copper-based TDM), which is clearly old and agreed to by all as being not capable of supporting future data growth rates, be relied upon as the control element to support future projections of hardware sales growth? Past performance should not be an automatic indication of future results.
Mobile operators struggling just to meet the current demand, with most failing at that, will now be required to effectively grow their networks at the same compounded rate as the sales of devices, equipment and other infrastructure that is being thrown at the network so as not to fall any further behind. Basically the numbers from the report say the world can expect to experience more of the same of what we have now. Maybe spotty, congested service is something to aspire to if your basis is no service at all, but that should not be our goal here in the U.S.
Investment is not just capital. Money is nice, but labor, materials, time and a well-coordinated plan for every layer all need to be factored in, or else nothing successful is going to occur.