Back 6 or so months ago, there was a BusinessWeek article titled "Can AT&T Tame the iHogs"
. At the time, there were issues surfacing publicly about outages on the wireless networks, with AT&T and other network operators such as O2 in the UK. AT&T said that 3% of users accounted for 40% of the data traffic, kind of setting up the scenario of tiered pricing models. So what has happened since then?
Well, first of all, we've indeed seen the rise of tiered pricing in the data world, as AT&T announced on June 2nd
that they would revamp their plans. The pricing has been reasonable as I see no key outbursts of unfairness. This should definitely help stop people from continually streaming Pandora or whatever to their phones. But it won't by itself solve the problem.
When looking at the Cisco Visual Networking Index
, mobile data is expected to grow at over 100% CAGR through 2014. This is nearly double 3G+ subscriber growth. So people are going to continue to access the Internet through their mobile broadband connection, so other measures need to be taken as well.
That AT&T tiered pricing release also talked about WiFi. Another part of the strategy relating to solving the mobile bandwidth problems is to offload data to WiFi. While at one time the network carriers were not embracing WiFi, for fear of competition, WiFi is now a key part of their strategy as a way to offload the network. My smartphone has a WiFi connection and a 3G connection. Offloading to WiFi can really free up the network. And it better with the expected growth. While that release gave a hint of the offload strategy, in May AT&T actually announced an offload trial in New York City
, in Times Square no less.
But still, that won't solve the problem either. Even 4G networks, while offering better bandwidth that will help, won't solve the problem. There needs to be bandwidth optimization solutions in the network as well, which I'll write about in some future blogs.
And then even when we get there, there will be more work to do. Because within that Cisco report, when looking through the data, you see that Video as part of mobile data is actually growing even faster than anything and represents about 2/3 of all mobile data traffic by 2014. All this means in the context of this blog is that there will be more and more and more and more complex stuff passing through the mobile networks. This is an ever evolving and interesting problem to solve.