Mobile Data Traffic Predictions Say: It’s WiFi Offload!

Mobile Data - Small Cell NetworksIf you’re in the wireless infrastructure business, you’ve seen it many, many times. I’m talking about the predictions showing exponential mobile data traffic growth. Hardly a conference presentation goes by without seeing this graph on the first or second slide. It became customary to preface any discussion with this context, often with the idea to get people salivating at a potential windfall of profits from selling systems, software, or services. But predictions are tricky, and mobile data predictions are particularly tricky. A sober read of the facts and what’s behind the headlines is revealing.

Let’s have a look at Cisco’s latest VNI was released earlier last month. It includes a significant reduction in estimated mobile data traffic of about a third for 2012-2016 from those estimated a year ago (29% reduction for 2012). Cumulative average growth rate drops from 78% (18x) to 66% (13x) for the 5-year period ending 2016 and 2017, respectively. Mobile data growth, although still substantial, is not as high as we thought it is, and it is continuously being downgraded every passing year. Predicting data growth is tough business. Read more of this post

Unleashing the Power of HetNets: Interference Management Techniques for LTE-Advanced Networks

In my earlier blog post, The Hype & Reality of Small Cells Performance, I provided a qualitative review of small cell performance and discussed interference scenarios that limit performance. Perhaps the most defining problem of small cell deployments is the large transmit power imbalance between the macrocell and the small cell (~20-30 dB) which increases the potential of uplink and downlink interference thereby limiting the ‘cell-splitting gain.’ As interference is the culprit in limiting performance, so managing it is at the crux of advanced LTE techniques. Fortunately, the LTE physical layer provides many levers to manage interference. Let’s recall that LTE is based on orthogonal division multiple access technology (OFDM) where orthogonal sub-carriers divide a wide channel bandwidth into multiple narrow frequency bands. Data is scheduled on sub-carriers which are assigned to users in the frequency and time domains (the basic unit of assigned sub-carriers is called a Resource Block). As we shall see, many of the interference management techniques are related to how the network assigns and manages its resources. But before we get into this, let’s have a look at range expansion which is a fundamental aspect of small cell deployments. Read more of this post

Word Clouding MWC: Observations and Takeaways.

MWC Cloud LogoMWC is over. In reflecting on the show, I came up with an idea and tried it out, just for fun. What if I take all the news coverage from the show and generate a ‘word cloud,’ would I be able to zoom in on the few key trends? What would ‘word clouding’ tell me? As it turned out, it was much more work than I had anticipated, but it was an interesting process. I’ll take you through this while I add my observations on the show. Read more of this post