Growth in mobile data traffic could leave cellular networks paralysed during Olympics

Research published by Ericsson on Monday indicates that mobile data traffic is expected to grow ten-fold by 2016, with total smartphone traffic expected to triple during 2011 alone. The firm attributes this staggering rise to the increasing use of smartphones and demand for mobile broadband services.

Steven Glapa, senior director of field marketing at Ruckus Wireless, notes that cellular networks will struggle to accommodate the monstrous volumes of data traffic predicted. As the UK prepares for one of the largest influx of tourists it has seen during recent years in the run up to the Olympics, Glapa warns that operators must act now to ensure that they are able to deliver the level of service that subscribers have come to expect.

“Cellular networks were initially designed for voice traffic, so unless steps are taken to address the unprecedented growth in mobile data traffic, the UK’s networks are at risk of failing millions of customers during the Olympic Games.

“To avoid this, operators should be looking to deploy solutions that bolster their macro cellular networks and help to ease the pressure, especially in places such as stadiums, where data traffic is likely to be particularly high. Options include Wi-Fi offload, ideal in areas where 3G/4G subscriber density and usage is high as well as small cell underlays to address high capacity density.

“Although traditionally competing solutions, Wi-Fi offload and small cell underlays are increasingly being considered in tandem to improve overall network utilisation, allowing traffic to be successfully managed. It’s a winning partnership that looks to deliver big time benefits – and is sure to keep London connected during the Games.”