Telecom Timeout

Apr 20 2011   12:59PM GMT

Wi-Fi/femtocell mobile network offload now a legit operator move, study shows

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Only a year ago, mobile network offload solautions were pretty much considered the last resort of a wireless operator that couldn’t manage its bandwidth. Now using Wi-Fi and femtocells for mobile network offload is legit, acccording to a new study by UK-based Juniper Research. Juniper projects that by 2015, 63% of traffic generated by smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices will be offloaded to fixed networks via Wi-Fi and femtocells.

In terms of great big numbers, Juniper report author Nitin Bhas estimates that the annual mobile data traffic offloaded to operators’ fixed networks using Wi-Fi and femtocells will reach almost 9,000 petabytes by 2015, which is more or less equivalent to 11 billion movie downloads (give or take a million here or there). The total mobile data traffic generated by mobile devices is estimated to exceed 14,000 petabytes by 2015.

Wi-Fi currently accounts for more than 98% of offloaded traffic, but Juniper expects femtocell deployment to increase, particularly in NOrth America (which we’re sure makes the Femto Forum happy). Still, Juniper believes Wi-Fi traffic will account for almost 90% of total offloaded data.

Offload technologies will work largely because a high percentage of mobile data consumption occurs while indoors or in a fixed location like a home or or at a hotspot. The report suggests that operators look at offloading solutions as being complementary to their 3G/4G network investments to extend their reach and increase revenues.

In terms of a different kind of offload, Infonetics Research recently released a study that says IP and Ethernet connections will increasingly be deployed to lower the cost of mobile backhaul from cell towers to fixed networks. To that point, 89% of the money spent on mobile backhaul equipment last year was for IP/Ethernet gear.

Infonetics says that almost 1.5 billion mobile subscribers and 1.6 billion mobile broadband subscribers will be added by 2015, growth that will require more base stations, more cell site connections, higher backhaul capacity and new equipment for each cell site connection.

No point looking for the half-empty side in this slice of the market. Maybe take a moment to enjoy.

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