The Case for Backhaul Optimization Technology

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

The Case for Backhaul Optimization Technology

We all understand that mobile subscriptions are growing, and that pretty soon there will be more connected mobile devices on the planet than there are people. And I’ve written in this space before about the Cisco Visual Networking Index, which gives interesting information about past and future mobile data use. One interesting tidbit that came from the last report from February 2012 is that although smartphones represent only 12% of total global handsets today, they account for over 82% of global handset traffic. 

With sub-$100 smartphones on the horizon for APAC, we will soon see even more smartphones on the market. And tablets utilize even more data than smartphones. At a recent technology conference I attended in APAC, one of the presenters asked the audience how many people had two mobile devices. Pretty much everybody.  And the presenter asked how many had three mobile devices. Pretty much everybody. And I was one of them, using my blackberry, iPad and laptop all simultaneously. Some people even had four!

This all adds up to a lot of mobile data. Yes, that’s a technical term. A lot. What it all adds up to is that wireless carriers need to spend a lot on wireless network infrastructure and backhaul infrastructure to make this a reality.

An Ovum report from 2011 mentioned that 27% of mobile operator OPEX in 2014 is expected to be spent on mobile backhaul expenses. 


And reports from Ovum, Gartner, Infonetics and others have the backhaul equipment market ranging from $6 Billion to $7 Billion.

In other words, that’s a significant amount of money being spent on backhaul just to keep us data subscribers happy! And while offload and other techniques will certainly be used, optimization of this backhaul traffic is surely one mechanism that also needs to be used. Because if optimization can save 25% of the bandwidth, then the percent spent on mobile operator OPEX on mobile backhaul expenses would decrease. And that is significant money. And that is why backhaul optimization equipment is a key mechanism to insure the data keeps flowing.

But wait. I’ve done paper calculations that would show that if these Visual Networking Index predictions on data growth came true, that the networks wouldn’t really be able to handle it. So upgrades to the networks, offloads of the networks, optimization of the networks, etc. would all need to happen, and continue to happen, for the subscriber forecasts to be met. It all adds up to mobile backhaul optimization technologies playing a key role in ensuring the mobile data growth continues unabated.

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