IDC: Wireless demand at risk without backhaul update

IDC: Wireless demand at risk without backhaul update

Analyst warns telcos they do not have the capacity to accommodate future wireless data loads

Mobile carriers need to get their collective act together with backhaul equipment if they are to keep up with increasing wireless demands, according to IDC.

IDC Asia-Pacific research director, Bill Rojas, said with the proliferation of mobile devices, such as the iPhone, most cellular operators are unable to accommodate for future traffic.

“Devices like the iPhone are causing a lot of havoc on mobile networks because their user interface is so easy to use and connects to Wi-Fi and 3G networks,” he said. “Users get five times the traffic on an iPhone compared to other devices.

“If the whole industry doesn’t modernise its wireless network, it will not be able to carry this exploding traffic required by users.”

Rojas highlighted the importance of updating wireless backhaul technologies with a strong focus on fibre through Carrier Ethernet. IDC estimates that by 2012, there will be over 3 million base stations and over 1.8 million cell sites in the Asia-Pacific region. Half of these sites will be connected to the aforementioned fibre.

In a press release, IDC stated that unless there is a backend overhaul, 3.5G and 4G such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) will not be feasible. If operators fail to do so, they risk being branded obsolete.

In Australia, there are approximately 40,000 base stations and 20,000 cell sites with only 29 per cent linked to fibre.

“We expect the figure to reach 66 per cent by 2012 but that all rests upon the plans of individual carriers,” Rojas said.

Rojas was particularly impressed with Telstra’s implementation of the 3G network, lauding the incumbent telco’s infrastructure efforts.

“When Telstra built the system, they did something smart in that they constructed the fixed line network on metro Ethernet primarily for its corporate data customers,” he said. “So what they did was connect its base stations to the data network.

“By the end of 2008, 70 per cent of Telstra’s cellsites were all fibre so that is definitely an industry leading example.”

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