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February 4, 2015updated 23 Aug 2016 9:00am

Network capacity soon to be exhausted by data demand

Network hotspots are struggling to cope with data demands.

By James Nunns

Amdocs has released the results of research into mobile traffic, revealing that the increasing demand for data could exhaust the capacity of 4G/LTE network hotspots within the next two to three years.

Amdocs State of the RAN research highlights the urgency for service providers to develop a "smart data" capacity strategy and prioritise investment where there is a demonstrated ROI, as well as allocate capacity automatically and dynamically to maximise customer experience and profitability.

The report focuses upon areas with high smartphone penetration, for example downtown/city centres and some of the world’s major stadium events. These RAN "hotspots" are getting hotter according to the report, as smartphone and other wireless devices proliferate and consumers take advantage of new technologies.

Some of the key findings include:

Hotspots continue to get hotter: The top 20% of locations in cities account for 80% of all network traffic. This concentration of demand is expected to accelerate the adoption of new network technologies including small cells and the introduction of carrier-grade Wi-Fi, in order to ease the burden.

LTE alone will not solve the problem: Per subscriber, usage has continued to grow, in many instances it has doubled over the last year. By LTE is offloading as much as 50% of traffic from 3G networks,resulting in increased capacity. However, the increasing demand for mobile date is expected to exhaust this capacity within the next 2-3 years.

The RAN has the biggest impact on network customer experience: With 80% of dropped voice calls and more than 50% of data throughput originating in the RAN. This provides wireless mobile connection for phone and tables as well as other devices using macro cells, and small cells utilising 3G, 4G and increasingly Wi-Fi for offload. The report states that improvement in this area would present a siginifcant opportunity for providers as 25-40% of customer churn is network related.

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Data demand is fuelled by new devices and the "technorati" dominate consumption: The majority of network data usage is being driven by only 10% of subscribers, dubbed the "technorati." These users consume up to 10 times more data per session than the average users, which comprises of 80% of overall network traffic.

Social media and "second screens" dominate stadium events: Social media uploads and watching content on a mobile device at the same time (second screens) is creating a double spike and increases data sessions by up to 50%. However, voice calls drops by up to 50%.

Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president for product and solutions marketing at Amdocs, said: "This research shows that service providers are facing a multi-dimensional challenge – to provide ever-increasing network capacity, greater coverage and better quality, particularly in mobile hotspots."

"The answer is no longer simply just about adding hardware – small cells and Wi-Fi will offer new options ? but to introduce smart solutions to prioritize investment and allocate resources automatically to maximize customer experience and profitability. Through the combination of Amdocs’ vendor-agnostic RAN solutions, big data analytics and B/OSS market leadership, Amdocs enables service providers to deliver a dynamic quality of experience."

The research over 12 months uses analysis based on more than 25 million voice and data connections and some of the business network locations around the world.

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