Home Africa and the Middle EastAfrica and the Middle East 2011 Smart networks for smart applications: Designing a network for mobile broadband

Smart networks for smart applications: Designing a network for mobile broadband

by david.nunes
Jorg ErlemeierIssue:AME 2011
Article no.:2
Topic:Smart networks for smart applications:
Designing a network for mobile broadband
Author:Jorg Erlemeier
Title:Head of Middle East Region
Organisation:Nokia Seimens Networks
PDF size:338KB

About author

Jorg Erlemeier, is the Head of Middle East Region, Nokia Siemens Networks

Jorg Erlemeier joined Nokia in 1994 and has held a number of senior management positions in Services, both in Marketing and Operations, as well as Sales. He held these positions in several locations that included United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, Germany and Singapore. Jorg is currently the Head of Middle East Region for Nokia Siemens Networks. Previously Jorg was responsible for all Nokia Siemens Networks business in Africa Region as well as the Middle East, and has led the change to address the complex nature of the vast region.
Prior to this, Jorg was responsible for the service business of Nokia Siemens Networks in Asia Pacific Region. He developed the business to a strong level within a complex environment of developed markets and the global economical challenges. In one of his previous roles, prior to joining Nokia, Jorg worked with RAG in Germany in the engineering industry.
Expecting the Unexpected in Mobile Broadband

Mr Erlemeier, has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics and Telecommunications) from Fachhochschule Aachen, Germany

Article abstract

In the Middle East many users gain first access to the Internet only through mobile phones, and this has already had a remarkable effect on their political life. Majoring on phones, not PCs, is changing usage patterns, with more signalling traffic and concerns over battery life. Increases in session durations and the advent of video based services also make big changes to the network requirements. In fact, operators need a flexible network that can scale up for both data and signalling and can still deliver a superior quality if experience.

Full Article

Of the five billion mobile subscribers globally in 2010, 700 million were mobile broadband users. Communication service providers today need to ensure the quality of experience for all users by managing huge volumes of data traffic and smartphone signalling traffic, while simultaneously ensuring the longest possible handset battery lifetime. If this is not enough, experts predict an explosion in subscriber numbers when machine-to-machine communication becomes mainstream service. The big question for communication service providers is: Are mobile networks prepared for unforeseen challenges?

Mobile broadband: On the upswing
In recent years, there has been an increase in mobile users across the globe accessing the internet on-the-move. Going forward, the strongest growth in mobile broadband usage is expected to occur in the emerging markets of Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, where compounded annual growth rates are expected to exceed 35 perecent between 2010-2015, compared to the global average of 28 perecent. A recent Morgan Stanley report predicts that mobile internet users are set to overtake fixed internet users in a few years. With 3G now available in India, the Middle East and Africa, many in these regions are getting their first ever internet access via their mobile phones, especially in remote areas where fixed line connectivity is not viable or PC penetration is low. For example, in Egypt, 70 perecent of mobile internet users access the web only via mobile, while in India, the number is
59 perecent.

This growing trend is changing the dynamics of the media and communications industry, forcing every player to consider the value they can provide to this growing market. Communications service providers have realised that mobile users are a segment they cannot afford to ignore. We can clearly mark how the utilization of mobile broadband by social media is directly impacting social lifestyles and development of future communities.

Social networking site Facebook pegs its mobile users at 150 million, a quarter of its total user base. Video-sharing site YouTube generates 13 perecent of global mobile data traffic. Over 200 million people access YouTube videos daily via smartphones and other internet devices. Online marketing intelligence company, Effective Measure provides some interesting insights on internet usage in the Middle East and North Africa. An average of 45 perecent of internet users access the internet via their mobile phones; while over
70 perecent of this usage is for email access, 85 perecent of these users have downloaded applications for their phones. The critical role that social media played in the movement towards greater democracy in North Africa has been widely acknowledged. The rising demand for such services, in the Middle East and globally, is driving communication service providers to create new applications for mobile users, while leveraging the internet for fast and agile service development.

Another interesting outcome of the proliferation of consumer electronic devices with mobile broadband connectivity is that consumers are now familiar with mobility, and are looking for ubiquitous internet access. This has led to the rise of several new categories of smart devices such as e-readers, tablets and navigators that address the communication and entertainment needs of a whole new generation of consumers. This trend is mirrored in the Middle East;
57 perecent of the respondents in Effective Measure’s survey on internet usage intend to buy a tablet device.

Key Mobile broadband challenges
The competition among device manufacturers to develop affordable smartphones is also heating up. Communication service providers are collaborating with handset manufacturers to bundle affordable smartphones that can boost data usage on their networks. Juniper Research expects shipments of entry-level smart phones to exceed 185 million globally by 2015. The prices of these phones are set to fall from US$150 in 2010 to US$80 in 2015. Nokia has already introduced an entry level smartphone, Astound, which is available via T-Mobile in the US for $80.

Communications service providers cannot control these market dynamic changes. Although launching new smart phones motivates users to increase the usage, at the same time it makes it harder to meet the expectations for high quality of service, due to the rapid increase in traffic. This poses a very important question; are our mobile networks ready to satisfy the new demand and at what cost? To answer this we need to clearly define current and future challenges.

While the mobile internet revolution is viewed mainly as a huge business opportunity by communication service providers, they cannot ignore the challenges it brings. In the early days of the mobile internet, subscribers connected their laptops via HSPA dongles to the network, contributing to an explosion in mobile data traffic volumes. Usage patterns changed with feature-rich smartphones. Smartphone users are permanently connected via instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and other universally popular applications. Smartphones generate only about one-sixth of the data traffic that laptops do, but their always-on applications generate signalling traffic that is, on average, eight times as much traffic as laptops generate. However, smart applications can rapidly deplete the device’s battery, and in turn, diminish user experience.

Be ready for the unexpected
Communications service providers need to evolve their mobile networks to provide for the constantly changing requirements of broadband users, who are switching between bandwidth-hungry applications and devices. An increase in the length of mobile connections to the internet will require that the battery life of smartphones is extended to improve user experience and keep the user online. To assist in this issue, smartphones are now designed to go into an idle state when not in use and conserve power when possible. Prioritisation of traffic especially during peak times needs to be optimised to ensure efficient use of network resources.

Advanced technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be utilised in developing networks as a key differentiator of the quality of service. Long Term Evolution brings with it not only the complexity of more frequency bands than ever before, but also, the promise of a super-fast broadband experience. Challenges such as interoperability issues need to be overcome to enable communication service providers to upgrade their networks seamlessly.
As mobile broadband gains popularity, smart applications and smart devices are here to stay. To capitalize on this opportunity, communication service providers need to build mobile networks that deliver superior user experience. They need networks that scale in multiple dimensions – data, capacity, coverage, signalling and service awareness – and can anticipate the unexpected.

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