Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bright Lights, Gig Cities -- BelAir Networks Big 4 Network Predictions for 2012

By Ronny Haraldsvik, CMO/SVP Marketing, BelAir Networks

There will be all kinds of wireless devices unwrapped over the coming holiday season. Whether that’s e-readers, tablets, laptops or smartphones, one thing is for sure: they will feed people’s insatiable appetite for mobile data. And that’s only going to continue as we move into 2012. What impact will this have on the mobile broadband industry?

Based on trends observed through BelAirBI Business Intelligence and data extrapolated from both internal and third party sources, we have compiled 4 Big Network Predictions for 2012. When combined, these predictions all point to the emergence of the Metro Gig Zone offering bright lights for mobile broadband, particularly in big cities where wireless networks are challenged by highly dense pockets of data usage:

  1. Big Users and Big Content will Consume Bigger Capacity in Metropolitan areas: 10% of subscribers based in Metropolitan areas, using smartphones and laptops, will consume 90% of all 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi network capacity available. In addition, video-based access to information (CNN, SKYTV, ESPN) and content based over-the-top services (Netflix, Google YouTube), will account for over 90% of all metropolitan broadband access over 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi networks. Of this one-to-one and one-to-many video-based communications using Skype, Facebook and other social applications will soon account for 5%.
  2. Big Business and Big New Vertical Markets will create Bigger Opportunities for Carriers: The rise of Wireless-as-a-Service (WaaS) for indoor-outdoor Wi-Fi and cellular services will see enterprise networking vendors and carriers go head-to-head in the market for wireless solutions for SMBs, stadiums and shopping malls. In addition, mobile and fixed carriers will also compete with Enterprise WLAN vendors and resellers in vertical markets such as education, hospitality and real estate high rises, with leased, fixed cost and subscriber-based revenue models. The removal of massive tower investments and time-consuming civil approvals for small cell networks supporting will also open the door for new entrants (previously non-service providers) to enter the metropolitan broadband access market.
  3. Big Broadband Experiences will Become Bigger Differentiators for Consumer Facing Organizations: The quest for a better mobile broadband experience will impact user behavior with regard to metropolitan travel patterns. Routes, stopovers and destinations offering consistent and reliable mobile broadband service, irrespective of the wireless access technology will benefit from increased customer traffic. Shopping malls, large hotel chains, and large consumer brands will differentiate themselves by offering free or earned (i.e. points based) broadband access and day/weekend based promotions using GPS-enabled access points for serving up local ads and offers.
  4. Big Networks will Become Bigger with Small Networks: There will be 100% growth in metropolitan mobile offload and Wi-Fi services data traffic. When a broadband network is deployed, traffic will double within 6 months. Wi-Fi follows the same daily traffic trending statistics as subscribers using LTE and 3G. Subsequently, mobile carriers worldwide will surpass 100 billion Wi-Fi connections from their subscribers by the end of 2012 by integrating Wi-Fi with their 3G and LTE network strategies. We will also see the first 100k small cell network deployment in the metropolitan area of a country using combinations of Wi-Fi, 3G, and LTE. At the same time 100 mobile operators and Fixed Broadband Service Providers worldwide will have announced small cell trials or commercial deployments.

Reprinted from Life in the Small Cell: BelAir Networks Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Complete Convergence of Communications and Computing Platforms Is Here

Now that the term “convergence” has become passé, it’s finally happening. The distinctions between formerly separate communications networks and devices are blurring. Wired and wireless networks will soon be providing seamlessly integrated services; licensed and unlicensed spectrum are used by the same service provider; the same communications network can simultaneously serve residential, enterprise, and vertical markets; the PC and the TV are becoming indistinguishable; wireless phones are replacing wired phones; tablets are replacing TVs and phones alike; and the smartphone is replacing literally everything: With a smartphone, you no longer need a wired phone, a calendar, an address book, a notepad, a clock, a calculator, a camera, a map, a music player, a thermometer, a photo album, a desktop, a newsstand, books, a dictionary, a thesaurus, an encyclopedia set, a video player, board games, a compass, a remote control, a guitar tuner, a tape recorder, etc.

As platforms converge, the nature of the technology used to transmit communications will become increasingly irrelevant to the consumer. Whether video is delivered via over the air broadcast, traditional cable, satellite, IPTV, an over-the-top service accessed via the Internet through a Blu-Ray player, or from the cloud to a smartphone, the consumer’s question will be: What can I do with it? (Where can I see it? What device can I use? Can I transition seamlessly from one location, time, or device to another? What apps can I use to interact with it? How can I share the experience with someone else?) Imagine a consumer who tires partway through an HD movie on the widescreen at home and goes to bed. During her subway commute the next morning, she swipes her wireless tablet, and the operating system asks whether she would like to continue the movie. She taps the screen and starts watching at the same point she stopped the previous night. No single industry participant or network can seamlessly and consistently provide such services today.

That’s changing rapidly. Companies that provide software, operating systems, devices, storage, cloud computing, networks, and content are collaborating to form communications platforms capable of providing truly converged communications services. Converged communications services are consumer-centric: they allow the consumer to select appropriate services, they embrace auto-provisioning, and they offer seamless integration. Domestic wireless networks are a critical component of converged communications platforms within the U.S., but they are only one component of a much larger ecosystem. Providers of operating systems, applications, devices, and content are competing across video, data, and wireless delivery networks on a global basis. This global competition among converging communications platforms is playing a significant role in the state of competition among domestic mobile network operators. New applications and technological development is occurring more rapidly than ever in an environment of increasing traffic volumes and spectrum scarcity. The result is intense, chaotic competition.

The FCC’s traditional analysis of competition in the mobile segment – which emphasizes facilities-based services provided by network operators at retail to residential consumers – does not adequately capture the competitive dynamics of converged communications platforms. The convergence of communications and computing platforms, wireline and wireless integration, spectrum exhaust, macro-network offload, rapid technology deployment, wholesale and MVNO relationships in macro and micro radio access networks and the backhaul segment, converged devices and operating systems, and M2M services are all driving intense, chaotic competition in the mobile segment. The FCC should expand its traditional analysis to recognize this changing reality and its impact on mobile competition.

(For more information, see the reply comments WCAI submitted today in the FCC’s proceeding on the state of mobile wireless competition.)