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Network congestion and outages – who’s to blame?

By December 5, 2012 No Comments

A study from earlier this year reported the number of mobile devices will outnumber the mobile population in 2012 and global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016. Needless to say, networks across the world should brace for data impact. With subscribers spending increasingly more time on their mobile devices, there is a growing expectation that carriers have prepped and primed their networks to support the inevitable growth of data traffic. However, as many subscribers have already experienced, networks are currently less than perfect and often experience frustrating network congestion and outages. While many carriers shy away from widely publicizing their networks’ imperfections, usually jams and outages can be chalked up to the following: • Storms or natural disasters • Increase of smartphone and tablet users • A growing app economy and chatty app traffic • Systems or network failure While this list could continue on and on, the truth is that while some of these outages cannot be avoided, operators do have a level of control over others. As devices and dynamic mobile content become more sophisticated, subscribers are becoming increasingly reliant on network bandwidth and expect the network to work all the time, not just some of the time. While unlimited data plans are slowly being phased out, today’s smartphones and growing tablet market are making high bandwidth users out of everyone. For example, the iPhone 5 eases how subscribers access, create, consume and share multimedia content, which can easily clog the network. Kelli B. Grant from Smart Money even recently outlined how iPhone 5 users can go on a data diet. Any congestion, system failure or complete outage will be met with extreme subscriber frustration. As daunting as it sounds, there is an opportunity for global operators to solve the congestion by evolving to smarter networks and optimizing existing resources, all while continuing to deliver exceptional quality of experience (QoE). By tapping congestion management solutions, deploying WiFi networks to offload data and improve local bottlenecks or help optimize major data streams, such as video, operators can evolve services and provide smarter networks, with minimal disruption to their subscriber base. There are some operators who are identifying new business models, strategies and services to improve both their network’s performance and their subscribers’ experience. However, it’s time all operators deliver this level of value to its subscribers, better manage their traffic and aim to exceed their customers’ expectations.