Olympics set to offer preview of 2013 mobile data landscape

The dramatic increase in demand on mobile networks during the Olympics will offer operators a startling preview of the mobile data landscape that is set to evolve in just 12 months, according to new insight from Actix. With close to a million visitors expected in London for the 2012 Games, mobile networks will be under extreme pressure and the quality of data services will inevitably slump. However, within a year this level of pressure on the networks will be an everyday occurrence as mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 78% year on year.

Actix network measurements show that under normal circumstances current networks are already close to capacity in central London, having to cope with massive amounts of data on a daily basis. For example, a typical kilometer-squared area of London already handles around 50,000 unique subscribers, 800,000 3G data connections 15,000 3G voice calls and 30,000 2G voice calls every day.

In order to address the extra load at Olympic venues, operators have made significant investments drafting additional network capacity. This includes new base stations, complemented by in-building solutions, such as the specialist Wi-Fi network at the core Olympic Park site designed to handle 100,000 users. However, outside of Olympic venues, with operators reliant on existing network infrastructure, resources will be stretched to breaking point leaving popular tourist and transport locations struggling to cope with the additional users. “Voice services should cope but the quality of 3G data services may be unacceptable for many users,” says Richard Kateley, Actix CTO.

This could scupper operators’ chances of bagging the lucrative extra revenues from international roamers. In London international roamers usually account for 3% of network traffic, but this is expected to increase to 5% during the Olympics, whilst at Olympic events roamers are expected to account for at least 30% of total traffic.

Bill McHale, Actix CEO, comments: “With the massive increase in data services demand soon to be the new norm, it’s crucial that network behaviour is monitored carefully over the Olympics. Projected traffic levels at London’s Olympic Park show the size of investment needed to ensure just one location has suitable capacity. However, operators unfortunately can’t afford to invest everywhere in the network to boost capacity.

“The Olympics will highlight the need to be smart about network performance and capacity, and utilize solutions for effective customer experience management, small cell rollouts and network optimization.

Actix can help operators make these smart decisions by providing them with a granular view of their network’s performance and their customers’ experience in the RAN, resulting in actionable intelligence, allowing operators to focus their efforts on delivering the right network performance to the right people and places at the right time.”

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