Ramping up 4G globally

With global revenues from 4G likely to reach £60 billion by 2014, how can mobile operators be sure keep competitive while making 4G pay? And what does this mean for operators and network capacity?

Deloitte predicts that global revenues from 4G are likely to reach £60 billion by 2014, with more than 200 operators running networks in 75 countries. In the UK, O2 is to launch its 4G offering, finally bringing competition to EE. China Mobile is planning to spend $30.1 billion on its network this year, with about a quarter of that amount earmarked for TD-LTE technology. Deloitte predicts that 4G subscriber numbers will triple compared with  2012, reaching around 200 million globally, as customers take advantage of improved email services, mobile video, sharper images and richer content (in light of the latest advances in Ultra HD and 4K), as well as faster browsing. With so much demand and a heightened level of competition, how can mobile operators be sure to keep competitive while making 4G pay? And what does this mean for operators and network capacity?

Despite the increases in speed and reach that these technologies bring, mobile bandwidth demand will continue to run ahead of supply, especially in areas such as video consumption, two-way video communications and tasks moving from a desktop/PC-oriented environment to the mobile world. So mobile operators must not only try and keep up with this demand, but also make sure they use that bandwidth in the most profitable way. To help address those challenges, Tata Communications has been working on deploying a “Hosted Policy Exchange” for mobile operators.

The exchange will be a cloud-based software solution for mobile service providers, aimed at allowing them to have more granular controls down to the subscriber level for bandwidth consumption, application usage and network priority usage. By providing these capabilities to a mobile service provider (MSP), they will have additional tools to create new offers at the subscriber level. These tools will even allow the MSPs to explore alternative charging models; for example, having the content provider pay for the network usage when that subscriber is consuming that content provider’s content, versus having the subscriber pay for the data usage.

4G is going to go a long way to providing a needed boost in mobile access speeds. Demand, however, will continue to outpace supply, and MSPs must have more capabilities to manage their networks when these situations arise, to guard against drops in connectivity and quality. These more-dynamic usage and pricing models will also help them to better monetise their networks, on the back of the investment levels required to roll out 4G.

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