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4G World: Clouds with 1000x More Capacity
Gigabit speed to Smartphones and tablets is not a future goal; it should be a strict design spec for any network being built out

In the initial presentations at the 4G World Conference in Chicago's McCormick Place this week, several executive insights from Verizon, Nokia, Telstra, IBM, and others focus on the need to expand speeds and network capacities. One talked about the need to expand networks in order to handle 1000X the current traffic

The 4G World Conference is one of the best conferences to go to if you are concerned with the future of wireless because there are many corporate perspectives represented there. Besides hearing some of the strategic directions industry leaders are taking, you can also see a lot of the latest technology offerings in the exposition hall.

Everyone was talking about the need to move more data through the wireless networks. 4G Networks can really facilitate addressing that need.

At this point, data is being described in gigabytes of storage. One executive from Nokia said that the average data per person used is one gigabyte a day. That might be low, but it was a good talking point.

He gave a good example of gigabyte comparisons:

What Is a Gigabyte of Storage?

1 Gigabyte of storage =

2 hours of Streaming video

1 Gigabyte of storage =

200 Songs

1 Gigabyte of storage =

1,000 Digital Books

1 Gigabyte of storage =

4,000 Facebook pictures

1 Gigabyte of storage =

50,000 EMails

Need for Speed: I Knew That
Another executive at the opening sessions of the conference said that the wireless network needs to be upgraded to handle more calls that are sending and receiving video-based applications. Hmmm... tell us something we don't know.

Video traffic has been burying some of the network carriers and is also a large concern at venues with a large concentration of users, like stadiums and sport arenas.

In order to support that surge in traffic, more infrastructure is required. More "traffic demand" equals more "infrastructure demand" which equals more "capital expenditures".

The new executive buzzword seemed to be "liquid." We need "liquid network architecture". We need adaptability and "liquid" radio.

It seemed like we were hearing more buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise the real issue: The network needs to be thoroughly overhauled in order to support the explosive growth of traffic generated by smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices that engineers did not account for in early designs.

For years, network engineers for the incumbent carriers have been very shortsighted in their designs to accommodate a geometric growth in traffic generated by smartphones and other next-generation devices, like tablets. Now, there is a rush to try to remedy that.

Several years ago, I wrote about having 1 Gigabit per second (1Gbps) speeds to the end user both on landlines as well as handheld wireless devices. Some thought that was overkill, now they wish they started engineering the network for that type of speed because that's what needed today.

What Happened to Standards?
Since the Bell System Divestiture of 1984, we have gotten away from strict standards on the network - and it shows. What consumers want out of phones and tablets is consistency. Consistency comes from adhering to strict standards on network design and delivery of services.

When I started at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the late 1970s, there was a strong focus on quality and the adherence of network-wide standards as to network design, implementation and operations. After the divestiture, some of the carriers started to go in their own directions and a strict focus on uniform standards was lost.

We are paying for that loss now as we have fallen behind and now need to catch up. What good are new applications if they cannot work properly across all carriers?

Now, there is talk of getting back to standards in order to facilitate rapid deployment of new applications and services.

Verizon offers an Innovation Program that provides access to Verizon expertise in order to collaborate to develop and deploy new services and applications. Rather than have a developer design a new application but not have them test it out on the network, Verizon will partner with a developer and take them through additional steps in order to get a new application out to incubation, rapid prototyping, product optimization and turn-key solution enablement.

It sounds more promising than the old approach of keeping everything "proprietary."

A large industry initiative, like the retail industry's recent MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange) announcement, is the perfect candidate for this type of collaboration with the carrier.

How Do We Get 1000x More Network?
Here is a simplification of what was discussed by the Nokia executive when it came to explaining how we are to get to 1000 times the capacity.

10 X

IMPROVEMENT IN SPECTRAL EFFICIENCY/ ALLOCATION

10 X

MORE SITES

(Use of small sites)

10 X

MORE EFFICIENCY

(Manage intercell interference)

As you can see, a lot was discussed in the first day of the conference. Real cloud infrastructure needs to be made up of robust, standardized components that must provide consistency to allow maximum usability and not just represent the billowing exhaust of sales executives trying to impress the crowd with smoky euphemisms.

•   •   •

Copyright 2012 - James Carlini

About James Carlini
James Carlini, MBA, a certified Infrastructure Consultant, keynote speaker and former award-winning Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, has advised on mission-critical networks. Clients include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, GLOBEX, and City of Chicago’s 911 Center. An expert witness in civil and federal courts on network infrastructure, he has worked with AT&T, Sprint and others.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.twitter.com/JAMESCARLINI

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