Data growth: anything, anywhere

11 May 2012 | Judy Reed Smith


Satisfying entertainment-hungry consumers.

Humans, by nature, crave control. We Americans drive cars when trains and buses could save money. We come and go without a schedule, with zoned climate control in the cars so passengers can enjoy a different temperature than the driver. Diners chose from countless restaurants, with food choices prepared to personal specifications. Media consumption is no exception. Americans even like to dictate their entertainments’ outcome, causing four of the five most-watched 2011 television programmes to be those allowing the viewer to vote for the winners.

The progression towards consuming media on our own schedules has evolved, taking music from concert hall to phonograph, then audio tape, CD and MP3, and taking video from theatre, to home projector, to VHS tape, DVD, and mpeg-4.

With today’s digital video recorders, music players, and video, the media possessed by the average consumer at any given time is at a record high. Because today we have enough content sources to avoid any schedule, we next want to conquer the other half of the space-time pairing and watch that whatever content whenever, wherever, and on whatever we want.

Demand equals business opportunity, and, as Capacity readers know, the bulk of investment in our industry – wired and wireline – is currently centred squarely on delivering on-demand content. Companies with content, pipes and towers are all competing to satisfy entertainment-hungry consumers. Cisco’s latest forecasts call for mobile data traffic to grow 18-fold from 2011 through 2016, at which time mobile video will represent over 70% of all mobile data traffic.

In 2015, the equivalent of all movies ever made will cross the global internet every five minutes. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Flickster, Amazon, cablecos, big box stores Walmart/Vudu, BestBuy, and Sears/Kmart all had streaming services by late 2010 and even ILEC Verizon plans a service with Coinstar for 2012. Music, movies, television and even video games are all moving toward the streaming space, and these services will require more transmission capacity every year.

Competition is fierce, but the rewards are remarkable. When consumers can access anything from classical music to classic rock, from a televangelist’s sermon to a pornographic movie, and can access it anywhere from their home, yard, beach, boat, car, office, or in-between, their consumption of content will grow beyond its already staggering levels. All of that consumption demands connectivity, making this revolution a dream comes true for network suppliers as well as for consumers.

Judy Reed Smith is CEO of ATLANTIC-ACM. She can be contacted at: judyrsmith@atlantic-acm.com