Are networks prepared for the next generation of wireless products?

01 July 2011 |


Google will continue its quest towards world domination today when it launches its new laptop in the UK– and it won’t just be Microsoft and Apple looking nervously over their shoulders.

 

The Chromebook has been six years in the making, and runs on one piece of software alone; Google’s web browser. Users of the low-cost laptop, which is retailing at £349, will have all their data – be it from emails, word processing or any other applications - stored on secure internet servers, which means if the laptop is stolen or run over by a bus, their work remains safe. With only 16G of storage space (roughly the equivalent of an iPhone4), the catch is the device is about as useful as a damp towel when it’s not connected to the internet.

Which is where the network operators and carriers come in, as this ‘rising tide of mobile data’ we all keep talking about, now has further potential to escalate into a tsunami. The development of products or services that ultimately rely on storing data online is placing endless pressure on networks already gasping for oxygen. As videos, images, music and all other forms of weird and wonderful data are continuously flung up to the ‘cloud’, expectations for immediate and fast access to mobile broadband look only set to rocket.

Google’s Chromebook is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple has its new iCloud service which allows Apple product owners to store and access pictures, videos and music online to share between their devices, while Amazon has also got in on the act with its cloud music service. That’s without even mentioning the piling demand created by data from tablets and smartphones; devices that are now firmly part of the mainstream consumer conscious.

Carriers must react lightning fast to create networks powerful enough to sustain this new generation of wireless mobile products. The analyst firm Cambridge Wireless agrees, identifying that there needs to be a change in how the industry responds to the phenomenal growth of data usage but warning there is “no silver bullet”.

The solution instead, it says, is a work in progress; it’s the new technologies that carriers are continuing to deploy every day – the roll out of LTE, HSPA+ and femtocells that Capacity reports on each month. These in combination with new spectrum allocation, an off-load onto wifi as well as a more efficient design of mobile apps and scheduling bulk data downloads during off-peak periods, will be the only way of ensuring networks keep up with the consumer demand for mobile broadband.

Essentially, a new mobile ecosystem is emerging, which Dr Soraya Jones, CEO at Cambridge Wireless, believes “everyone in the wireless value chain has a part to play in shaping”. Carriers therefore best start getting in shape fast.