Peak mobile bandwidth per user to increase fivefold by 2018

Date: Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:05 Source: Ciena press department

Study predicts peak hour smartphone use will increase 50% and over-the-top video will triple mobile bandwidth requirements in the next three years
Peak mobile bandwidth per user to increase fivefold by 2018

Ciena at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona


Peak period mobile bandwidth consumption per user is expected to increase fivefold over the next three years according to a recent “Mobile Broadband Bandwidth Demand” study, conducted by ACG Research and sponsored by Ciena®. Service provider backhaul networks are plagued with growing bottlenecks due to increasing device penetration and an abundance of new entertainment services and applications, like video streaming, social networking and multi-player gaming. The study looks at peak period mobile bandwidth requirements (bits per second), rather than total data usage (bytes per month), in order to provide the bandwidth projections that are needed to help service providers plan network capacity.
By forecasting users’ expected bandwidth demand in comparison to service providers’ current backhaul capacity, the study predicts that the typical macro cell capacity requirements will rise from 260 Mbps today to 1.5 Gbps within five years. This equates to 1,000 users streaming a movie or live sport event at 1.5 Mbps on their smartphones simultaneously. To handle this level of growth, networks need to have sufficient backhaul capacity, such as what is possible with Ciena’s purpose-built platforms, to accommodate the plethora of new devices, data and applications, as well as varying – and often unpredictable - traffic patterns. An optimized, agile mobile backhaul solution supporting 10 Gbps to the macro cell tower will be essential to alleviate this projected bandwidth and ensure the expected quality of experience.

Key findings:
• Average bandwidth consumption per mobile user is expected to increase 52 percent CAGR through 2018. Smartphone penetration will rise from 55 percent to 67 percent, and the resulting usage of over-the-top (OTT) entertainment applications on smartphones will account for 59 percent of this; largely due to video - with high-bandwidth requirements, long session times and continuous streaming.
• Mobile peak usage times, those typically occurring between 9-10 pm, will increase by 71 percent, from seven minutes today to 12 minutes in 2018. Consumption will also be boosted by new initiatives as OTT providers sponsor data packages (such as those for streaming music). In addition, new 3G and 4G enabled tablets will contribute to the surge in traffic growth, increasing by 20 percent.
• The study indicates that supporting backhaul capacity requirements will exceed 1 Gbps by 2018, and this will be further intensified by the latest wireless standards such as LTE-Advanced and the introduction of more small cells, which are expected to deliver faster wireless services with broader coverage to users. Service providers need to take steps to deploy a mobile backhaul solution that supports 10 Gbps to meet this projected bandwidth and ensure quality of experience.

Michael Kennedy, principal analyst, ACG Research, said: “Today’s users no longer rank mobile services by price alone. Now more than ever, the quality of experience for the latest OTT applications is paramount and a key driver of customer loyalty. In three short years, these networks must offer broader coverage and handle more people using more applications on more devices at the same time. As a result, the backhaul infrastructure must transform to enable a more dynamic experience.”
About the study
Ciena commissioned ACG to conduct the “Mobile Broadband Bandwidth Demand”study to model engineered macro cell site backhaul capacity and help predict increased bandwidth requirements and expected growth for specific metro area demands. It predicts mobile users’ bandwidth (bits per second) during the peak period rather than total mobile data usage (bytes per month) as peak bandwidth requirements are needed to plan network capacity.
The study uses North American figures to analyze mobile demand trends and shows comparable growth profiles across North America, Europe, and Latin America. Europe is following North America, with a couple of year’s difference, and Latin America is on track but with a larger interval. Asia Pacific has higher current bandwidth requirements than the other regions but lower growth; which suggests a more mature market.

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