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Backhaul to the Future

David Murphy

Viplob Syngal, General Manager, Carrier Networks, at NEC Europe, urges mobile operators to ensure their network infrastructure can cope with the seemingly insatiable trend towards launching app stores

Vodafone recently announced plans to launch an online application store this autumn. The store will offer software applications to its 256 million customers.
It is now clear that operators must provide their customers with mobile applications in order to remain competitive and create additional revenue streams. Not only that, but we will soon be seeing an evolution in the kinds of mobile applications demanded by consumers. Today, applications are centred around themes related to Mobile TV, simple games and multimedia, MMS, SMS, email, and Internet browsing. Over the next few years, however, we will see demand increase for more sophisticated premium applications, based on machine-to-machine interactions such as telematics, enriched navigation experiences and interactive gaming.
This is great news for operators, whose ARPU and voice revenue has been dwindling over the years, but they must appreciate the implications for the mobile network, and move to protect their customers from a second rate experience, whilst at the same time creating brand loyalty.

Achilles heel
The mobile backhaul network could prove to be the operators Achilles heel, and hinder the success of these app stores. Increasing backhaul capacity is imperative, and will allow operators to engage their customers, as well as keep data traffic costs in check. The speed of connecting to the Internet is a function of both the individual user's connectivity, and of the infrastructure. Fixed network operators have been caught out by this in the past, and mobile operators need to learn from their experience
Another area operators need to consider before counting their chickens, is that the Internet has created a whole new expectation around global connectivity, and if this is to be translated to the mobile world, users must be able to use the applications on all devices. Such openness will broaden the range of applications and services that can be shared, creating an enriched mobile broadband experience.
If Nielsens Law of Internet bandwidth, and Moores Law of computer power are to be translated to the mobile broadband world, then we should ensure, from the outset, that the overall mobile broadband ecosystem is ready to support the massive growth of mobile applications. In return, this will create the need for economies of scale and lower cost per bit.