28 February 2012

NetEvents EMEA Summit, Garmish, blog - part three

Rosalind Craven, IDC: Helping Mobile Operators Boost Profitability

Introducing the discussion, Craven said that voice revenues are not going away but that data volumes are growing while average revenue per user remains flat or is even falling., which means that means profits are under threat.

She said that carriers need a reduction in data transport costs, especially mobile backhaul but "they don't want to invest now and have to spend again in two years time - they need a longer term solution. But data usage is unpredictable, and they need the cost/bit to fall."

Evaluating this challenge, Roland Klemann, director, service provider practice at Cisco, said: "Mobile traffic is now eight times more than the whole of Internet traffic in 2000. Operators need better offerings, as tiered pricing and advances in spectrum efficiencies will not deliver enough savings."

Alan Solheim, VP at DragonWave, said: "Operators want higher capacity than technology can deliver so customers are looking at new ways of doing business. Ethernet backhaul growth was about capacity to start with but this is now about new services, such as using that bandwidth more efficiently."

Kevin Vachon, chief operating officer, MEF, said: "India is saying they have yet to experience this as they don't use so many smartphones but it's a matter of when not if. We want to help operators move to carrier Ethernet from TDM, and it's happening, driven by LTE. Now with class of service we allocate bandwidth better to make big pipes more efficient. Operators say they can save 25-40% of their bandwidth by using different configurations.

Craig Easley, VP marketing at Accedian said: "Now that operators have experience of carrier Ethernet, they are more comfortable buying lower cost services and that's where they save. If traffic is not real-time, they can drop a few packets and do it with a lower cost service and not compromise quality."

Solheim said: "We are seeing more intelligence at the edge of the network, and that same technology can be applied to mobile backhaul. The hardware cost is only 10pc of total cost - it just needs to be more reliable and faster to deploy."

Greg Gum, chief marketing officer, TelcoSystems, said: "A survey of top mobile operators worldwide said they have a mobile backhaul strategy but only 42% were upgrading to just mobile backhaul to separate data and voice. In India, SE Asia, eastern Europe and Africa, they're still on 2G or 3G so the ability to use carrier Ethernet's smarts has yet to take hold."

Addressing the significance of MEF carrier Ethernet standards on profitability, Vachon said: "Standards apply to multiple service types -- we created a new higher level specification that shows how they can be applied in backhaul environments, specifically in 3G or 4G deployments.

Easley said: "MEF22 was a stake in ground for backhaul standards. The biggest problem remaining is taking backhaul technology and applying it to 4G."

There followed a discussion about small cells, such as wifi and pico and femtocells as a way of offloading data from the mobile operators' networks. Klemann said: "We see 11% of mobile traffic being offloaded growing to 25%. That yields operational challenges for service providers. Small cells are easier to manage -- there's more redundancy and self-healing -- but more access points that need to be linked to backhauls. Operators will emerge to meet this need for backhaul."

Solheim said: "The capacity crunch point is the radio network. All new spectrum efficiencies only make 10% of the capacity gain we need, so we need a new architectural changes, that's why we have small cells. But they present operational challenges: how to connect them? We don't want wires so it needs to be wireless backhaul. The aesthetics of the solution are as important as the technology as local council won't put up with ugly boxes on the lampposts.

Gum said: "Wifi is the main offload mechanism, especially for streaming video and web intensive apps such as Facebook."

Easley answered an audience question about whether LTE will succeed: "For operators, differentiation is all about the network so they have to move up to faster radios. It's coming, it's way past trials."

Roland Klemann, Cisco: A Vision for Cloud Mobile

Roland Klemann concluded the plenary proceedings with a presentation on mobile cloud. "When mobile and cloud collide it's an explosion of data," he said. He then presented the results from a rich Cisco survey into the behaviour of end users and businesses.

He said that new devices are driving the mobile cloud, especially the iPad. "Apple is selling 1500 per hour and they generate three times more traffic than a smartphone," he said. Users are using and will use email, social networks, VC, games, documents -- video is a big driver, along with shared content, and file storage and backup.

Business users will drive the mobile cloud, according to Cisco's data, as they are twice as likely to use cloud services. "This will change the way people work," Klemann said. "It will mean more cost-efficient workplaces, more productivity." In future, we will see virtual desktop integration, thin-client, cloud-based devices, that professional and personal lives will blur and that we will need dual personality devices, one personality for work, one for personal use.

Consumers want to use any device anywhere and they use cloud services because they know their data is safe no matter what happens to the device, he said. "Drop it in the toilet and the data stays safe," he said.

Users said they trusted mobile cloud providers, and Klemann said that mobile cloud apps will generate the most network traffic -- 7.6 exabytes -- an increase of 66% worldwide. Most mobile data consumption is actually from fixed locations so wifi will work as an access method, found the survey. Klemann said that people said they would wait for wifi to access mobile cloud apps.

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