Mobile Internet Offload Grabs the Limelight

Mobile Internet offload has been around as a concept for a while now, but it's become a priority for wireless operators with the rise in popularity of smartphones, which generate exponential increases in data traffic. In general, mobile Internet offload uses differing forms of wireless technology -- picocells, femtocells and Wi-Fi -- to provide data connections, relieving the pressure on the more limited cellular bandwidth.

A new Light Reading briefing center, located here, will look at multiple aspects of this trend over the next three months.

Within the last year, Wi-Fi, in particular, has emerged as a key offload method. Widely deployed in broadband homes and in public locations, Wi-Fi had been the bane of wireless operators' existence, because the networks existed outside of their control and were thought to threaten revenue. Now, multiple operators are deploying thousands of hotspots, most intended to provide connectivity for the growing number of data-enabled mobile devices. Here's a look at our recent coverage of carrier Wi-Fi deployments:

There are issues around using Wi-Fi offload, however. Losing visibility of users when they move onto Wi-Fi networks threatens the wireless service provider's ability to control the customer experience. A new generation of equipment, including policy management gear, is being developed to give wireless operators more control over Wi-Fi offload, over how and where it is used. Take a look at what the vendor community is up to:

Recent research conducted in South Korea showed smartphones there were within Wi-Fi coverage areas 63 percent of the time and remained in those coverage areas an average of two hours, an indication that Wi-Fi offload is already widely used on an unmanaged basis, especially in a country with such dense Wi-Fi coverage. You can read an assessment of that research by Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown here or read the researchers' report here.

Wi-Fi offload is only one option that wireless network operators are pursuing to address the wireless data bandwidth problem. Among the others are use of femtocells and picocells, adding to the cellular network. Here's a look at recent activity in that realm:

What may emerge is the "HetNet" -- which is explained here. We can explain it further:

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

Hassene Akkeri 12/5/2012 | 5:03:00 PM
re: Mobile Internet Offload Grabs the Limelight

I see the concept of Mobile Internet offloading as a declaration of surrender. In fact, after a tough race for speed, from GPRS to LTE, Wireless technology seem to face a bottleneck that few had imagined it coming.

"Marketing" 3G+ numbers such as 7M, 14M, 21M and now 42M and plus are labels that quickly get discredited by the actual field experience. And even with an optimized network planning on the radio, backhaul and core layers, Mobile Operators cannot foresee the unpredictable capacity request and the correlated evolution among specialties (smartphones, tablets, apps, M2M, etc).

The bandwidth beast is already there. You either continue feeding him by squizzing the technology to the edge, and here the expenditure will be too high to afford. Or, you try to find out a clever way to avoid it without declining your business.

Moreover, mobile broadband data business case is causing serious headaches to most of the Telco's executives. Considering mobile market competition and the fixed-line habits of packaged offers, it is extremely difficult to design a winning business model where you keep adding capacity, retaining customers and coughing so hard to compete with a relaxed mastered fixed-line market.

The conclusion that most of mobile operators came to is that Mobile Broadband cannot compete with Fixed-line broadband. It can only complement it by allowing occasional access under mobility.

Offloading the mobile broadband data to fixed-line using Femtocell, picocell or wifi will have considerable strategic consequences:

- First, regulators must consider the case of the Mobile operators who don't have fixed-line license. Such situation will lead to an unfair business environment

- Second, fixed-line will be back at the foreground as the master approach for broadband delivery

Another aspect that must be well foreseen is the new trends of computed RAN (lightradio, AIR, C-RAN, etc) that many suppliers have already started buzzing for it. This approach will increase the reliance on fixed-line by proceeding to a wireline backhaul to a central datacenter where the radio and switching functions are processed in a computed way.

When we look at the big picture, we can easily see a major shift of the wireless/wireline equation coming.

smturner-nyc 12/5/2012 | 5:02:16 PM
re: Mobile Internet Offload Grabs the Limelight

Agreed, seems clear now that iPhone, iPad + Droid Smartphones, and (now) iCloud et al. could / will never be fully suported by 3G/4G cellular networks. Equally clear when it comes to WiFi, that Users want an WiFi offload that better fits their roaming habits: fixed WiFi hotpots still too spotty a solution.

"I think we're gonna need a bigger boat"

The mobile ecosystem deserves a "better + "smarter" WiFi infrastructure" solution: Starting with the Access Points (WiFi antenna) and how they are arrayed for cell-to-cell hand-off: How to get 3G/4G cellular-type  antenna network configuration but over a WiFi spectrum? It doesn't need to be so ubiquitous either:

The 80/10 Rule: 80% of mobile data traffic goes over only 10% of the cell towers.

Use "super WiFi" industrial strength carrier-grade Antenna -- they're available --[the Greater China telecoms arestarting to  deploy them.]

So then, how to make WiFi 802.11 function just like -- and interact with -- 3G/4Gcellular networks?

 One answer: one start-up company founded by a group of seasoned 3G/4G wireless network/radio frequency engineer techies -- has developed software Apps that impart "3G-Smarts" to WiFi: Blu-Linx Technology.

Now the Carriers have a (vitually unlimited) of WiFi "Bandwidth-on-Demand"; and Users get true on-the-go mobiity anywhere within large data-dense metro areas over Super WiFi MetroZones.

We'll need all the offload solutions we can harness, because the mobile data tidal wave is only getting steeper -- Welcome to the Gigagbyte Generation.


SteveTurner-NYC - www.blu-linx.com

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