Mobile Traffic Forecast to Reach 131K PB in 2018; Carriers Can Cope If They Play Their Cards Right

Oyster Bay, New York - 03 Jun 2013

Global mobile data traffic expanded at 69% in 2012 and is anticipated to grow at 72% in 2013 to reach 23,000 Peta Bytes. By 2018 total mobile data traffic will likely eclipse 131,000 Peta Bytes. “There has been much ‘doom-mongering’ about this growth in mobile data traffic but mobile carriers should not panic just yet. There are indications that mobile carriers have a number of options to handle the traffic loads,” said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director for core forecasting at ABI Research.

Based on extensive research for ABI Research’s “Carrier Strategies to Alleviate the Capacity Crunch” report, we detail the strategic options mobile carriers can place at their disposal to manage the expanding mobile data traffic outlook.

  • Radio Access Technology Options: Carriers are commercializing LTE but there are additional benefits to be gained from quickly adopting the LTE-Advanced roadmap. LTE-A’s release 10 introduces enhanced Multi-In Multi-Out antenna technology as well as interference mitigation technologies such as CoMP and eICIC. A crucial technology is Carrier Aggregation that will allow mobile operators to “chain” spectrum blocks for substantial capacity and speed gains.
  • Network Architecture Options: Mobile operators can optimize their network base station assets to make the best possible (re)use of their allocated spectrum. As of 1Q-2013, only a handful of mobile operators have fully engaged on a small cell strategy that incorporates Wi-Fi hotspots and small cell 4G LTE base stations. Operators that have adopted a comprehensive small cell strategy include Softbank NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, KT, Uplus and in the last week, Verizon Wireless.
  • Spectrum Options: After speaking with various spectrum stakeholders, ABI Research estimates that the available spectrum for the mobile cellular community will increase from around 300 MHz to 1,500 MHz over the next 5 to 10 years. Incumbent mobile operators and equipment vendors would prefer this spectrum to be allocated on a dedicated basis but the FCC, the EC, Ofcom, and a number of additional governments are keen to evaluate cognitive radio technologies, such as white space TV, as they would boost spectrum capacity while allowing co-habiting users. At the next World Radio Congress there would be a stand-off between cellular and broadcast stake-holders.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s new Mobile Carrier Strategies Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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