A new report from Unwired Insight, entitled ‘Will 3G Networks Cope?’, shows that the relentless growth of 3G traffic volumes will create a 3G network capacity crisis for some mobile network operators as early as 2010. Early deployment of LTE will be essential, and continued growth in data consumption will create insatiable demand for LTE spectrum.
3G traffic volumes are set to increase by a factor of 20 by 2014, driven by many factors, including the increased adoption of traffic-intensive services such as mobile broadband and mobile TV services, the increased proportion of smartphones and dramatic reductions in mobile data pricing.
Dr Alastair Brydon, co-author of the new report says, “Pricing of mobile data has changed dramatically since the days that SMS was the dominant service. Mobile broadband pricing has fallen as low as USD2 per gigabyte, which is nearly half a million times smaller than the price per gigabyte of an SMS message.”
Key findings of the new report are:
- As 2G users continue to migrate to 3G services, the available capacity per 3G user will decline rapidly in networks utilising HSPA, to less than 100MB per user per month in some cases. LTE will be essential to counter this decline.
- While LTE promises peak data rates of over 100Mbps, this is only possible with wide allocations of spectrum, and even then is only experienced by a few lucky users that have particularly good radio conditions. Other users will achieve much lower data rates, so the average data rates from practical LTE networks will be nowhere near the peak values.
- Network operators will have an insatiable appetite for LTE spectrum, to stand any chance of keeping up with forecast traffic demand. For some operators, 10MHz of spectrum will be able to support forecast traffic levels only until 2011. A further 10MHz will be needed by 2012 and another 10MHz in 2013. In addition, some operators will have to embark on major network expansion programmes to keep pace with forecast traffic levels.
“LTE’s ability to relieve the capacity constraints of HSPA networks will be limited initially, until operators can acquire additional spectrum and seed a sufficient number of LTE devices in the market place,” says co-author Dr Mark Heath. “We don’t expect to see LTE handsets until 2011,” he warns.
The new report ‘Will 3G Networks Cope?’ published by Unwired Insight, addresses one of the biggest concerns within the mobile industry, as to whether 3G networks will be able to cope with future increases in 3G traffic volumes. The report gets to grips with this critical issue by quantifying how 3G network capacity and 3G traffic will evolve over the next five years.
The report contains 120 pages, 29 figures, 18 tables and 30 000 words. For more information, or to buy the report, go to the website www.unwiredinsight.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0) 1480 819391. Dr Alastair Brydon and Dr Mark Heath are authors of more than 40 reports on key issues in the mobile industry, with more than 250 different organisations worldwide using their insight.
A free whitepaper associated with the report is available to download from the Unwired Insight website.