Shiny devices entering the mobile galaxy, but will they fly?

The proliferation of tablets raises questions about the impact of such devices on the network and the role of mobile backhaul

With a range of attractive handsets and tablets being launched ahead of the Christmas season, consumers are likely to get a range of options to choose from, and Apple will face some serious competition. The first serious opponent for the iPad 2 to reach the shops in the UK is the  Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1, which got some great reviews when showcased at MWC.

Even though this is good news for consumers, it is a promise that can only  be fulfilled if mobile networks offer the user experience consumers expect from their shiny new devices. And after the success of the iPhone – and the associated network saturation – service providers should hopefully be in a much better position to plan their network strategy and avoid nasty surprises for their top subscribers.

But the challenge ahead should not be underestimated. According to a recent study, in the first half of 2011, mobile bandwidth usage increased by 77%, so it should come as no surprise that half of service providers no longer offer ‘all-you-can-eat’ data plans.

The reason behind this increase in bandwidth usage is obvious: smartphones and tables are becoming very popular and reaching the masses. A study from the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom shows that nearly one in three British adults uses a smartphone. In the US, about 25% of mobile traffic is generated by Apple’s iPad users, with another 35% coming from the iPhone.

And that is only the beginning, consumer demand for tablets and the associated high-bandwidth applications - social networking, video, gaming - will continue to grow as new shiny devices enter the mobile galaxy.  But what does that mean for the user experience, will consumers be able to enjoy all the potential of their gadgets?

“If consumers are to receive the user experience they want and expect, the mobile infrastructure in place needs to be able to support the associated data growth," said Mervyn Kelly, EMEA marketing director at Ciena. "An important part of this is the backhaul network, connecting base stations with the network core. Backhaul can be seen as the foundation for any successful mobile network strategy – if you get it wrong, it doesn't matter how pretty your house is, it's going to fall down.”

Without sufficient capacity and resiliency in the backhaul portion of their networks, operators could soon face problems fulfilling customers’ expectations. And that is where Ciena comes in, its Carrier Ethernet-based mobile backhaul technology offers a cost-effective and scalable architecture that allows carriers to control costs while supporting a galaxy of new mobile devices and applications.

And with leading mobile operators disclosing their intention to upgrade networks and LTE becoming a reality, we might rest assured that our mobile galaxy is safe and start dreaming about the ideal Christmas present – it’s never too early for that kind of planning.

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