Smartphone penetration in Singapore continues to increase as the mobile era takes over. As mobile services take off thanks to the likes of the iPhone and the Android platform, the bandwidth begins to struggle.
According to VP of marketing at Ruckus Wireless, Rob Mustarde, the most viable solution for mobile service providers is to adopt wi-fi as part of their network.
"We've reached this point where data will take off, think of it as the hockey stick part of growth," Mustarde said.
Wi-fi or bust
With the insurmountable data traffic the spectrum is facing, the only way to handle it is to start thinking of wi-fi as a strategic part of the network, said Mustarde. According to him, bandwidth demands are projected to increase fifty-fold by 2020.
"Even if all available licensed spectrums are used in the most efficient fashion, there is only 20 to 25 times the capacity available," Mustarde explained.
Mustarde referred to 3G offload, a term used by service providers to describe the use of wi-fi as a sub-service to the 3G traffic.
"Think of 3G offload as an escape valve, if the network had too much traffic, the service providers would reroute the users to the nearest available access point to ease the congestion," said Mustarde. He explained that instead of using wi-fi as a secondary or even tertiary path for bandwidth, it was time service providers saw wi-fi strategically.
When asked why wi-fi was the only viable option, Mustarde was quick to explain that it was simply because there were so many wireless enabled devices around.
"Think of it in terms of the VHS versus the Betamax; Betamax was the better technology but no one used it simply because there were hundreds of VHS machines available," he said.
In this way, even if other options were to be developed, the current state of the market may not allow the technology to become prevalent, Mustarde explained.
"The laws of physics will prevail," said Mustarde. "Traffic loads are going to increase and the bandwidth has to go somewhere and you have to find a way to handle the tsunami of traffic."
TV White Space most probably won't take off
TV White Space is the unused radio spectrum in the TV broadcast bands or simply the gaps between broadcast channels and occurs in different places on different channels.
According to Mustarde, the reason why TV White Spaces might not be a big hit is because the unused channels differ from country to country.
"Vendors cannot build one product (for TV White Space) and sell it globally, they'd have to choose and build for a specific market," he explained.
Due to this, vendors would not be able to get the price point down low enough for it to be viable for sale.
However, Mustarde said, TV White Space would create benefits for pushing wireless Internet to rural areas. The thin bands of unused spectrum are low in frequency and thus travel over greater distance.
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