The ongoing improvements in infrastructure have driven the continuing uptake of mobility and broadband around the world and in 2014 mobile broadband is the fastest growth area overall for the global telecoms sector. But increased usage has caused data traffic jams on the 3G networks because this infrastructure cannot cope with the rapid increase in traffic over the last couple of years.
The release of 4G/LTE mobile broadband will certainly ease the issue in the short term and anticipation of this growing demand has resulted in LTE becoming the fastest developing mobile technology to date.
The global mobile industry has been busy developing amazing applications and services for smart phones and devices over the past few years - but it is important to remember that if the infrastructure cannot handle the capacity then this market will quickly stall. The developed markets are already eating up new spectrum with a voracious appetite and it is expected that the current new spectrum allocations for LTE will start to run out in 3-5 years’ time - and at this stage there is no clear technical solution ahead for the industry. Many see heterogeneous infrastructure as the way forward– in other words, a conglomeration of technology all tied together – and while this will work; the overall quality and reliability of the network is bound to suffer.
The interest in the VoLTE market is expected to accelerate as LTE networks become more mass market. Cellular operators in the US have gone to great lengths to expand LTE availability across the country. As a result, the US will become a key market for VoLTE services in coming years, with operators and consumers alike benefiting from the scale of LTE and LTE-A network footprints. In South Korea in 2013, KT reported that it was also making significant progress in expanding the coverage of its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network.
The increasingly important WiFi market is slowly but surely seeing more sophisticated WiFi products emerge. This level of sophistication is occurring in enterprise and carrier markets and also finding its way into the hotspot market - where it will become the critical hub for the rapidly increasing home network market. It must be recognised that WiFi plays a key role in the telecoms environment of the future. The use of WiFi hotspots continues to rise due to increasing popularity from smart phone and mobile device users.
Mobile data traffic is experiencing tremendous growth - with over an 80% increase in global mobile data traffic in 2013 compared to 2012. Led mainly by an increase in mobile video traffic; it is really no surprise that the industry is now beginning to float the idea of 5G infrastructure in order to cope with the increasing demand. While it is not yet clear what form 5G technology will take, there are plenty of industry players expressing an interest in developing this concept further, including companies like Samsung and Ntt DoCoMo.
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