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Can mobile go truly global?

Tim Sherwood, Vice President, Mobile Market Development & Strategy, Tata Communications | April 1, 2015
What does the demand for ubiquitous global connectivity mean for the mobile industry?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Rome was not built in a day and a ubiquitous global mobile experience can't be either. There is no doubt that the world is drawing ever-closer to a fully connected mobile world—according to recent research by GSMA Intelligence, 1.6 billion citizens worldwide will become mobile Internet users over the next six years, bringing the total number to 3.8 billion, or around half of the forecast global population in 2020.

Not only are increasing numbers of people subscribing to mobile, but mobile applications also pervade more and more aspects of business and personal life—from connected homes and offices to smart cities and the Internet of Things. Users are coming to expect that mobile experiences will be "always on", operating seamlessly, regardless of geographical location.

However, this expectation of a ubiquitous global mobile experience requires foundations. A builder would not dream of building a house with insufficient foundations, and this is essentially what is happening with our new mobile world. There is potential for connectivity any time, regardless of geographical location; however, there are still foundations that need to be strengthened to keep users' mobile experience "always on" and at minimal cost. There is a huge opportunity for mobile network operators and mobile service providers, and we will see a whole spectrum of innovation in infrastructure and connectivity in the coming years to deliver on this promise.

Every one of the mobile applications deployed by users and businesses today relies on Internet connectivity. Technology giants and startups alike are developing devices to make our homes and offices "smarter". According to Gartner, 9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, reaching 25 billion by 2020. Smart cities are still in the early stages of realisation; in the UK, this currently amounts to a series of isolated pilot projects, with sensors in parking bays, for example, which act as proof of concept. In India, however, there is a project underway, backed by President Obama, to launch 100 smart cities in the next couple of years. In order for these smart cities—and others around the world—to become a reality, existing networks need to be strengthened, and additional networks established, to create a pathway for the huge additional flux of data.

One of the main facets of mobile infrastructure that must develop to make this connected world a reality is roaming. Current mobile data roaming requires a backhaul of roaming traffic from the end-user location back to the home network. As a result, user experience often suffers from brief delays. Mobile network operators need to work to drive down delay times, as well as costs for users, to make the global mobile experience more viable. The issue for mobile network operators with current monitoring and reporting tools is that they tend to be limited in functionality and do not present correlated views to help mobile network operators quickly diagnose issues.


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