With smartphones generating around 8x the network signalling load of a dongle-equipped laptop, the CEO of O2 Europe, Matthew Key, has admitted that these high-function handsets are causing significant ‘growing pains' for the company's networks. While he maintained that these network issues were today confined to high-density population areas, the situation could become more widespread with data traffic doubling every three months.
According to research from infrastructure equipment provider Airvana, while smartphones only represent a small percentage of the overall base of mobile devices, the signalling traffic from these handsets is already responsible for the majority (two to three times as much as laptops) of the total signalling activity.
Airvana's research indicates that, while a smartphone user downloads a fraction (typically 1/25th) of the data consumed by a laptop user, the signalling load produced by the these users is significantly higher - approaching a third of the average laptop user. Thus, while it takes 25 smartphones to equal the data throughput from one laptop, it only takes three smartphones to equal the signalling network impact of one laptop.
"The industry is just now beginning to understand the real impact of smartphones on network performance and we are finding that their effect is distinctly out of proportion to the amount of data they transmit and receive," said David Nowicki, Airvana's VP of marketing and product management. "It's now estimated that nearly 60 per cent of all mobile data traffic originates indoors, which is one of the key reasons that operators are increasingly introducing femtocell strategies to offload traffic."
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