Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts: A Comparative View

When it comes to planning radio access networks, mobile traffic data forecast become very important: Operators need to properly size their networks, and the ecosystem needs to predict potential bottlenecks and come up with creative solutions. The granddaddy of all traffic forecast, Cisco’s VNI was used to argue the need for more spectrum. Hence, a lot ride on these forecasts and anyone who has been to industry events notes how often these forecasts are used to make a point of the impending “capacity crunch.” Ericsson recently released a white paper on their data forecast, so I wanted to compare it with other data available on the market.

Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts 2010-2015

Mobile Data Traffic Forecasts 2010-2015

I compiled the graph below which shows Alcatel Lucent’s and NSN’s traffic predictions in addition to those of Ericsson and Cisco. There are some slight variations into what each vendor considers as mobile data traffic. For example, Cisco includes machine-to-machine and home gateway traffic in its forecast, while the other vendors do not (these are about 13% of Cisco’s reported total).  Ericsson excludes DVB-H, Mobile WiMax, WiFi and M2M traffic. All these forecasts exclude offload traffic.

2010-2015

Increase

CAGR

Cisco

x26

92%

Ericsson

x11

61%

NSN

x13

68%

ALU

x26

92%

The forecasts by Ericsson and NSN are significantly below those of Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent. This is interesting as it could have an impact on each company’s technology strategy. For example, ALU has heavily invested in its Metro Cell product while Ericsson on the other end of the spectrum has not been as aggressive on small cells to address operator capacity requirements.

Traffic forecasts raise many questions and give much food for thought on how to handle the growing capacity demand. There’s no one way to address this question, but the solution is a hodge-podge of tools on which I have written about before (Addressing the Capacity Crunch). Time will tell who will be right…

Ericsson Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2011)

Ericsson Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2011)

NSN Mobile Data Traffic Forecast

NSN Mobile Data Traffic Forecast

Alcatel Lucent Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2011)

Alcatel Lucent Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2011)

Cisco Mobile Data Traffic Forecast - VNI Mobile 2011

Cisco Mobile Data Traffic Forecast - VNI Mobile 2011

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About Frank Rayal
Telecom industry management consultant.

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