Current limitations with mobile broadband capacity effectively constrain application performance – and hence, user experience.
From the user perspective, there are two aspects of bandwidth consumption that are important:
- Upstream traffic; that generated at subscriber devices; and
- Downstream traffic; that delivered to client devices.
Quite simply, consumers expect bandwidth capacity for downstream traffic to be sufficient to power the applications they want at an appropriate performance level. Traditionally, MNOs have focused on achieving sufficient downstream traffic performance. However, user-generated traffic can be equally important when addressing capacity concerns, but it is often overlooked by MNOs. In a typical network, greater capacity is available in the downstream direction with the result that upstream bandwidth is more easily saturated.
Increasingly, mobile users are generating greater volumes of traffic, all of which needs to be delivered by the network. This is associated with, among other things, the rise of user-generated content, increased use of Voice over IP (VoIP) clients for communication, and “Peer to Peer” (P2P) traffic. However, this presents an additional problem for MNOs: some of these applications create revenue, while others simply burden the network. In addition, the combination of different traffic sources may cause problems for certain applications. For example, heavy P2P traffic (which does not generate revenue) may limit the effective transmission of revenue-generating services, such as VoIP, or cause disruptions to other real-time services.
The continued rise in downstream and upstream traffic leads to congestion in the network that inhibits the performance of applications in both directions. It’s simply not tenable to continue costly investments in bandwidth. Alternative solutions that use bandwidth more efficiency must be pursued.