On-demand video on mobile devices has become increasingly popular and it is the key driver of mobile data growth with a 66% annual increase through to 2019 compared with 57% for data as a whole, according to the GSMA.
Operators are aware of the rise of global mobile data and they foresee future revenue growth. However, in order to engage this opportunity, operators need to face several challenges and be ready to face the ammount of data that is expected to come.
Cisco estimates that smartphones will generate 37 times more data traffic than feature phones, while 4G smartphones will generate almost three times as much data traffic as 3G smartphones. The increasing use of mobile broadband-enabled smartphones will generate an explosion of data traffic, with volumes forecast to grow at a CAGR of 57% out to 2019, an almost tenfold increase.
According to Juniper Research, global mobile data traffic generated from devices including smartphones, feature phones and tablets forecast to exceed 197,000PB in 2019.
YouTube stated in October 2014 that mobile devices now generate 50% of its global traffic, up from 41% in 2013.
Dr. Mohamed Nadder Hamdy, director wireless network engineering at Commscope, said that operators have the choice to expand in three main directions: Site densification, additional spectrum acquisition and enhancing efficiency by technology upgrades.
“While the second and third directions are costly, operators tend more to densify their networks infrastructures. This can in turn be achieved by a number of techniques such as multi beam antennas and small cells integration. The multi beam antennas add instantaneous cost efficient capacity without the need for new sites acquisition,” he said.
Rami Kichli, vice president Gulf and Levant at Software AG, highlighted the opportunities that mobile data growth gives to the telecoms sector and set Middle East and Africa as a region where positive prospects will be seen.
“Being a dynamic and rapidly emerging market, the MEA region provides an infinite wealth of possibilities. It boasts a particularly vibrant Information and Communications (ICT) industry, and operators are slowly being enlightened with regards to its massive potential. As networks across the MEA region continue to evolve and adopt to the growing consumer demand for quick and efficient connectivity, operators are responding by providing innovative solutions and services that will successfully develop a ‘Networked Society,’ and set themselves apart in what is becoming a congested market,” he said.
Kichli commented to CommsMEA that the Middle East and Africa region has seen increased data usage from the population over the years. “Strong indicators in support of this development include the widespread use of laptops, smart phones and tablets especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE which have the highest market share in the region. Video comprises a large chunk of data usage across all platforms, and the trio contributes more than 50% of total media and entertainment consumption in the MEA market. The Levant area trails behind with 10% though the collective is expected to record a growth rate of 6.8% from 2014 to 2019.”
“The index also notes the growing dependency on smart phones throughout the GCC, with mobile subscriber penetration at 131% in 2014 and fixed broadband penetration expected to reach 26% by 2019. Such numbers should encourage enterprises to develop their business models to accommodate high quality content in order to strengthen their presence in the region,” he added.
As commented before, the growing number of smartphones and other advanced devices, such as tablets, are increasing the use of data-intensive applications, such as video streaming, on mobile networks and consumers want to enjoy these services. Juniper Research estimates global smartphone data consumption to be nearly twice the amount of tablet traffic in 2015. Therefore, operators need to face possible congestion problems.
“Regional operators are exploring the latest tools and applications to address the problems emerging from the surge of data in the market today,” said Kichli about what operators are doing to solve this challenge.
Telcos also need to promote mobile data growth and they need to analyse what the consumer is demanding to preserve the level of quality that they are offering to the users. “In order to maintain competitive advantage, operators try their best to remain sensitive to the demands of informed consumers; one such demand is for easily accessible content.”
“There will also be a rise in m-services, which will approximately record 50 billion connected services by 2020. Furthermore, operators are shifting their attention towards exploring the massive potential of Operation Support Systems (OSS) Business Support Systems, managed services, and cloud services. These market trends have encouraged businesses to adopt their own strategies to suit these new developments, which throws the spotlight on cultivating and enhancing the user experience,” he added.