|Europe I 2012
|The 3 Rs for the new mobile economy
|Senior Vice President
Greg Gum is Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer for Telco Systems. He previously served as CMO and VP of Business Development at ANDA Networks and held positions at USWest/Qwest, Philips Semiconductor, and Tsunami Ventures.
Greg Gum is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA, Sociology and Statistics, and holds an EMP, Finance and Marketing degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.
Mobile data traffic has tripled year-over-year for the past three years. Three basic elements will be required to support such explosive growth in the new mobile economy. Real time performance measurements will be necessary for proactive real time load balancing. Resiliency or elasticity of the network will be a key capability necessary to maintain cost efficient infrastructure. Relevancy techniques and policies will be required to detect congestion and dynamically load balance traffic to accommodate virtualized resources.
The current rate of adoption of wireless mobile communications has hit a staggering 70+ percent of the 6.9 billion global population who now own at least one cellphone with nearly 28 percent of global consumers owning multiple cellphones (according to Microsoft TAG and SSI, Survey Sampling International and Opinionology from recent global cellphone research studies as of November 2011).
With cellphones falling to the sub-US$100 mark and a hefty used market from the churn of older cellphones to newer smartphones, significant saturation of communications devices has begun to level the playing field for the technology “have-nots” outside of North America.
Outside of North America, Europe, Asia and developing countries contribute to 87 percent of total Internet users as they have jumped on the mobile Internet bandwagon.
Mobile economy = explosive data growth
Based on Cisco’s visual networking index, overall mobile data traffic is expected to grow at a CAGR of 92 percent from 2010 to 2015 and is expected to reach 6.3 exabytes per month by 2015, a 26-fold increase over 2010.
As we move toward building the new mobile economy, certain basic elements will be required to truly support a mobile network that has seen data traffic triple year-over-year for the past three years.
Years ago the educational system coined the term the 3Rs (for those of you who are too young to remember!) which stood for the three basic requirements each student should master:Reading, writing, and arithmetic.(I guess they were spelling challenged in those days!)
The 3Rs for the new mobile economy are the key elements of innovation that are necessary to develop network functionality to support such staggering growth rates.
Real time performance
The first element is real time performance.In the past connections to mobile towers were handled by T1/E1s and uplinks carried mainly low bit rate voice traffic and minimal data traffic.Thus cell sites were typically not capacity constrained with most mobile operators and carriers reactively managing their networks by receiving signals from base stations after problems occurred.
Today, mobile operators require much higher capacity packet based Ethernet networks, to support the ever growing and highly variable bandwidth needs from new mobile data based applications.Rich media and video continue to create explosive data growth rates over new high speed fiber, microwave, and 4G-based radio links up to as much as onegigabit of bandwidth or roughly 1000 times the capacity of traditional time division multiplexing (TDM)-based connections.
Using new operations, administration and maintenance (OAM)-based standards tools, operators can better manage and detect problems and failures over these high speed networks using real time performance measurements and recovery for proactive real time load balancing to prevent problems before, or as they occur.
As users become increasingly mobile, machine-to-machine connections proliferate, and cloud services offer near instantaneous response times, real time tools are critical for the mobile economy to succeed.For example, delay sensitive applications from mobilevideo gaming to high speed financial transactions require real time responseand recovery to support today’s stringent service SLAs committed to new mobile economy businesses such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, and Zynga.
A second key area of innovation is resiliency.Similar to legacy networks, mobile network operators need to efficiently route and switch mobile data traffic to optimize and virtualize precious network resources particularly with the advent of cloud-based networking.As mobile data can be highly variable and non-deterministic due to movement across cell sites, mobile networks must become more resilient to immediately reallocate network bandwidth only when necessary.New innovations in cell site diameter routing equipment and software based on new Openflow protocols allow for more sophisticated traffic management than using typical access control lists (ACL) and older routing protocols to statically switch traffic.These new Open Network Foundation supported techniques, enable true software defined networking (SDN) where the network can dynamically adjust and right-size resources in real time as the traffic patterns change from cell site to cell site. A good primer on Openflow can be found at: http://www.networkcomputing.com/next-gen-network-tech-center/231902599.
As the mobile economy moves from static-based services to virtualized cloud-based services, resiliency or elasticity of the network will be a key capability necessary to maintain cost efficient infrastructure supporting the latest mobile applications.
The third element is relevancy.As mobile data trafficballooned with the introduction of the iPhone and Android-based smartphone and tablet devices, carriers and mobile operators realized that mobile traffic had significantly changed. Best effort, ‘all you can eat’ data plans would be difficult to sustain on networks architected for low bit rate voice calls.Recognizing the user’s applications and type of traffic became immediately relevant to managing the influx of mobile data and offering new location based services.Application awareness became essential to enable policing and throttling the network based on techniques such as deep packet inspection (DPI).Specifically, DPI was initially used to detect high bandwidth ‘data hogging’ P2P packet torrent applications such as Napster, BitTorrent, and Gnutella that were consuming bandwidth at the expense of other day-to-day voice and business users.Comcast was one of the first to be brought to the public ire as they were sued for data discrimination and settled for US$16M.(See: http://www.cio.com/article/599018/Judge_Approves_Comcast_Traffic_Throttling_Settlement)
Pressured to change their policy, they claim to have moved from inspecting the actual customer’s application trafficto a context aware methodology where specific traffic types are not inspected and throttled but are marked for best effort once a certain maximum threshold is reached. They also allow these applications to make use of the full bandwidth assuming the connection is not in a congested state.New techniques to support these policies such as hierarchical quality of service (HqoS) (see: http://www.telco.com/files/pi/newsletter/vol22/hqos.php) and context aware SLA performance management tools were developed to detect congestion and dynamically load balance traffic to accommodate virtualized resources for today’s bursty, highly variable, bandwidth intensive mobile applications.
It has been said that “the world is truly a smaller place”.With the pace of connectivity growing exponentially, continued innovation in these three Rs can yield a smaller, smarter, and more connected, egalitarian world.Regardless of race and socioeconomic status, mobile applications such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are enabling real time information posts.From the war in Afghanistan, Japanese Tsunami, Occupy Wall Street protests, or simply the posting of the birth of a new baby, anyone can post whenever, wherever, and to whomever they choose.All information can be instantly captured and shared with real time coverage by every day Netizens from all walks of life.While this may sound a bit too 1984ish,George Orwell also once said that “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”Maybe the mobile economy is the next brave new world.