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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mobile broadband networks need to become smartphone-friendly fast

FOLLOWING the highly-anticipated announcement of Apple’s iPad on Wednesday, it is safe to say that smartphones and tablets connected to mobile networks are going to be the focus du jour.

The potential of the smarter, more mobile and ever connected global tribe, however, can only truly materialise if we ensure all elements are in place to deliver the smartphone-friendly experience.

The start of 2010 registers 25% – or 1.7 billion people – of the world population as Internet users. Closer to home, Pyramid Research expects Malaysia’s mobile penetration rate to increase to 133% by 2014, with broadband data services accounting for 45% of all mobile revenue, driven by increases in adoption of mobile broadband services and mobile data applications .

According to a Gartner estimate, the sale of smartphones is estimated to grow 33% year 2010 (y-o-y) while the overall smartphone sales are forecast to reach 43% of mobile devices by 2013.

In Malaysia, IDC expects to see a growth in the adoption of smartphones in 2010, predicting a growth of total smartphone shipments of 19.8%, hitting 1.8 million units. According to the technology research firm, smartphone shipments are predicted to make up 30.1% of the total mobile phone shipments sold in Malaysia .

The wide range of applications is expected to create huge traffic growth that is expected to double each year for the foreseeable future. This begs the question of our networks’ readiness to cope with this explosion in traffic growth and deliver the always-on, always-connected experience.

To get an impression of impact on the network load, viewing a YouTube video on a smartphone uses as much network capacity as sending 500,000 SMSes simultaneously, according to a leading European service provider.

The service providers have on hand both an opportunity and a challenge to capture the booming mobile broadband business. On one hand, the burgeoning demands on mobile broadband networks present an opportunity to improve profitability of mobile broadband end-user relationships. But before that, service providers need to tackle the issues of customer-centricity and efficiency of their networks.

Service providers require a holistic approach to capitalise on this prospect of creating sustainable and economically viable customer relationships.

Service providers need to study how to optimise networks to deliver the best end-user experience. If a user is using mobile broadband on a network that is not smartphone-ready, the experience is either equivalent to unplugging and plugging in a fixed connection to your computer every few seconds, or your battery drains very fast.

Some smartphones automatically turn off their antenna to save battery life as soon as the user ceases to send or receive any information, so that the next link you click or the next app that asks for data from the “cloud” has to establish a new connection, also called “signalling”.

Every time that happens, the smartphone experience is marred and wastes capacity on the service providers’ network.

Other challenges presented by the advent of the smartphone and its network requirements which can be addressed include load sharing techniques, which allows service providers to support peaks in traffic and reduce operational experience when traffic is empty.

On a broader level, the evolution to IP and all-IP architecture will help service providers to reduce total cost of ownership, whilst enabling them to react dynamically and fast to changes in end-user behavior.

The combination of always on applications, mobility and the growth of smartphones and mobile computing devices like the iPad will increasingly test providers. It is imperative for Malaysian service providers to become smartphone-friendly in order to cope with the real mobile broadband experience that end-users demand.

p/s:i will buy one!! for sure

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