As Ericsson declared that more data was now passing over the global mobile phone networks than voice traffic, O2 UK has admitted that the battle to provide users with a reliable connection was no longer about installing more masts to meet a coverage percentage target.
The company, which has been criticised as not being among the leaders in 3G coverage, believes that the real game is more about providing mobile subscribers with depth and quality of experience, and not, according to Derek McManus, CTO of O2 UK, limited to increased demand for data access.
"In terms of the immediate future of 3G networks, our priority is to re-dimension infrastructure in anticipation of changing customer behaviour," McManus explained. "Data services like Facebook and Twitter generate multiple and concurrent requests to the data network (once every eight seconds)--we call them 'chatty' applications."
"We're challenging the industry--including our infrastructure partners--to develop solutions that will suitably support the behaviour of mobile apps. It is no longer just about ‘volume,' or bigger pipes, but about the ‘process' of data handling."
The future, McManus believes, is going to be dominated by the twin challenges of not only moving from 3G to 4G but also developing infrastructure which is suited to the short, rapid burst data requests made en-masse by mobile apps.
"We are currently running ongoing LTE trials with Huawei, which offer speeds up to 150Mbps. Incredibly, our modest LTE trial network in Slough (O2 UK head office location) already has the data carrying capacity of the entire live 3G network, which illustrates the vast step change expected of this next generation of technology."
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