Mobile Internet Data Traffic Trends and Implications for the Wireless Industry
Can the growth of mobile data live up to the hype given the current capacity of wireless networks? Interview with Andrew Odlyzko, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota and expert on internet traffic patterns and growth.
Due to the success of smart phones, app stores, and open platforms, a strong consensus now holds that mobile data is creating the next telecom revolution. The volume of data transmitted over mobile wireless networks is skyrocketing, growing at rates over 100% per year.
But is that growth rate sustainable? Bandwidth per user will continue to be limited by overall 3G-network capacity. Moreover, considerable CAPEX would be required to upgrade mobile networks to 4G. Also, most subscribers are unwilling to pay rates in excess of $50 or even $70 per month, which most mobile operators need to get a reasonable ROI . Yet wireless data growth conjures up "visions of sugar plums" for many telecom professionals and wireless industry stakeholders.
To examine the hype vs. reality of mobile Internet data growth, we checked in with Professor Andrew Odlyzko – a former AT&T Researcher who exposed the myth of exponential (wireline) Internet traffic growth back in 1998 – just prior to the dot com bust and optical networking melt down. Odlyzko has been tracking Internet traffic trends for over 12 years. During most of that time period, the actual traffic growth did not live up to the over-hyped projections.
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