Growth in the proportion of mobile network capacity used by data services is accelerating. According to Ericsson, a crossover point occurred in December 2009, when the capacity requirements of data services exceeded voice for the first time. The problem, however, is that profit margins on most data services are lower than those on voice. Extrapolate the trend and a significant challenge emerges: users are requiring more network capacity and paying less money for it.
It is the most significant strategic issue facing the mobile industry and we’re already starting to see the impact: the removal of ‘unlimited’ data plans from the market, more rigorous enforcement of data caps and blocking of certain data heavy services, such as video and streaming music.
As a result, there will be increasing pressure on user experience designers to think about the network efficiency of the services they’re designing. This will range from simple optimisation of interface graphics to re-thinking the whole information architecture. There will also be a significant push from operators to move customers onto more data efficient platforms: expect to see growth in services like Opera Mini, which uses server-side compression for web browsing, and devices like the Blackberry, which is significantly more network efficient than iOS or Android devices.
Pathway #1 at the next MEX on 30 Nov – 01 Dec is focused in this area, entitled ‘Define more efficient user experience techniques for an age of network austerity‘.
Mobile Entertainment TV has been doing a series of interviews on the ‘data capacity crunch’, sponsored by OSS (operational support services) specialist Amdocs. In the latest video, Amdocs’ General Manager Nick East puts forward some more numbers to highlight the scale of the problem:
- AT&T saw a 5000% increase in data demand over an 18 month period
- Cisco predicts data traffic will grow 40-fold from 2009 to 2012.
You can watch the interview here (the interesting bits start from about 0:55).