There are many different views about how mobile service usage will develop, but everyone agrees on at least one thing: Mobile data consumption will continue to rise.
And while no one knows exactly what the usage patterns will be for each market/demographic and so on, some data compiled by mobile optimization and analytics specialist Actix Ltd. , which is in the process of being acquired by Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), provides an interesting insight into some of the usage trends we can expect in the future. (See Amdocs Dives Into Mobile SPIT Pool.)
Actix believes that students, who generally use smartphones and tablets and who seek out low-cost service packages, provide a guide to the future of mobile service consumption. From studies of mobile network traffic, Actix found that an average student campus will, in general, generate higher levels of voice and data traffic than city transport hubs and central business districts. "A university campus will generate 60 percent more calls per person per day, and 388 percent more data per person per day compared to traffic in a business district," notes Actix.
In addition, "universities also have the highest levels of data upload, accounting for 30 percent of all data traffic at the location." That's a significant statistic.
As students are "early adopters and power users of mobile," they provide "an important gauge of future trends. Network operators need to accommodate these evolving attitudes to mobile use if they are to continue to deliver effective, profitable networks," adds Actix in a media release about its findings, which also highlights the increasing role Wifi access will likely play in mobile data usage patterns.
While Actix isn't revealing any new trends, its analysis of student usage highlights some of the major considerations mobile operators need to address right now as they plan and build out their 4G networks, and in particular consider the use of small cells with integrated WiFi in their networks.
The most important decisions for mobile operators are to decide what it is they want to be and who they would like to have as their customers -- and then plan and invest accordingly, not just in the radio access network but also in the backhaul and packet core, as the ability to employ policy control and real-time charging capabilities is going to be just as important as increasing access speeds and expanding network reach. Just building a 4G network and then shouting about how fast it is really isn't enough.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading