As many of our readers know, we have been addressing the fantastic growth of mobile apps and in-car streaming over the last several weeks. What we haven’t addressed however, is the tremendous need in the growth of infrastructure in order to support this growth factor. If you have seen or heard AT&T ads lately, you will hear them extolling the facts of their build-out to keep up with demand, both cellular and broadband.
The truth is, all of the present providers are scrambling to build out their networks to accommodate the capacity requirements that are coincidental with the online streaming growth projections put out and backed by research firms like Arbitron, Cisco and other big names. In 2010, mobile traffic tripled for the third year in a row. If we want a perfect world, one without buffering and drops, here’s what we will see.
We should expect to see mobile network speeds increase 10-fold by 2015. Because of the fast-growth proliferation of smartphones and tablets that can operate in multi-mode (surf, talk, text and email all at the same time), the compounded rate of growth, according to Cisco, will have to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% per year, and will need to exceed speeds of 2.2 mbps by then to accommodate proper usage.
In addition to the boom in online music streaming, there are several other contenders in the race. There are commercial security cameras, nannycams, petcams, mobile webcams on all sorts of commercial and municipality vehicles, health care and medical field video transmissions, fleet inventory and logistics tracking management, telematics for local utilities data reporting . . . and the list goes on. All these applications are proliferating rapidly, seeking to suck up present mobile and cellular bandwidth. Oh, and did I mention the gamer networks? Sony has 77 million subscribers alone on its Sony PlayStation Network. Then there is World of Warcraft with over 12 million subscribers . . . and on and on. So you can start to get the picture of the eternal battle between supply and demand that has plagued any other fast-growth medium in history!
According to further analysis by Cisco, we should see an off-grid, on-net population on smart device users grow to 138 million by 2015. iPhone users are already using 350 MB per month, with Android users at 200 MB per month. If everyone in the US lit up their smart device right now, logged into their email and started texting while carrying on a conversation, we might see the lights in the Empire State Building dim. Facts are facts, and we know that the major carriers like Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and the others are ‘sprinting’ to build up network and switching capacity, but it may take a while.