Analysts are generally in agreement that network operators need to continue to invest in infrastructure to ensure that they keep pace with user demands and deliver appropriate performance levels. But while sufficient capacity is clearly part of the solution, it’s not the only way in which this problem will be solved.
Clearly, infrastructure is essential. There is an on-going and evolving need to provide more capacity. But the optimisation of capacity and user experience is also important. There are several reasons for this. First, the investment required to continually upgrade network capacity is significant. Network operators need to manage their CAPEX and OPEX and can’t simply sign a blank cheque each year for network upgrades.
Secondly, it’s an almost impossible target. Each year, levels of demand soar and predicted demand also rises: chasing bandwidth is never going to be sufficient.
Instead, what is needed are ways in which the available bandwidth can be optimised and shared more effectively. There are solutions that ensure user application demand can be managed to deliver both an optimal experience and a more efficient allocation of existing bandwidth resources.
This is because different applications have different demands – some are real-time, others are not, but how they consume resources is not typically optimised. By enabling this functionality in user devices, the problem can be addressed before traffic reaches the network and before it consumes scarce resources.
It’s received wisdom that problems will be alleviated by the availability of more bandwidth. Of course, more is required, but this takes time, costs money, and there may never be enough. There are alternative approaches, such as providing the ability to manage and optimise user experience and application demand on the device to leverage bandwidth more effectively. But, such approaches are not widely known and it’s clear that awareness must be increased in order to have a more effective debate about network evolution. Infrastructure is a necessary element of the solution, but investment in infrastructure needs to be supported by parallel investments in network optimisation tactics – which must include consideration of user devices.