Both technologies to take nearly 60% of mobile traffic over the next five years
While the level of data delivered to mobile devices is expected to continue to expand dramatically over the next five years, service providers will offload nearly 60% of traffic in that period.
According to a new report from Juniper Research, service providers are increasingly seeking to reduce the strain on their network caused by the proliferation of connected smart devices by deploying their own Wi-Fi hotspot networks and offering small cell solutions to end users.
The report, Mobile Data Offload & Onload: WiFi & Small Cell Strategies 2012-2016, notes that while small cells were developed primarily to enhance network coverage, service providers are increasingly offering them as an offload solution and integrating them with Wi-Fi technology within a single unit.
As report author Nitin Bhas observes, the deployment of integrated cells offers further potential benefits to network operators beyond coverage improvement and congestion relief. 'With Wi-Fi integrated small cells, seamless data services can be extended to non-cellular devices as well, such as cameras and Wi-Fi-only tablets, offering operators the opportunity to develop new revenue streams,' he said.
Additionally, the report observed that major public events would result in significant spikes in mobile data usage in those areas, requiring service providers to provide substantial extra capacity on an ad hoc basis. In this regard, Bhas cited the high density Wi-Fi networks being deployed at sporting venues and tube stations for the London 2012 Olympics as a critical pre-emptive measure to alleviate potential problems.
Small cells will account for a steadily increasing proportion of offloaded data over the forecast period, reaching over 12% by 2016, the research shows. Also, North America and Western Europe are to account for over 75% of global mobile data offloaded throughout the five years.