Data offloading market expected to heat up this week

It was about seven months ago when I noted that a rather large industry segment--known as the data offloading market--would emerge as operators become overwhelmed with data traffic on their 3G networks. This week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain is expected to kick off this market (I include policy control solutions in this market) in a big way.

It's no secret that data traffic, especially video streaming, is skyrocketing. AT&T Mobility is the poster boy for the phenomenon given its exclusive deal with Apple for the iPhone. But operators globally are beginning to groan under the strain, thanks to web-friendly smartphones of all kinds. Last week the GSM Association forecast mobile operators around the world will invest up to $72 billion in mobile broadband technologies as data demand surges. No wonder everyone and their brother appears to be coming to market with data offloading/policy control solutions that range from actually offloading traffic onto femtocells and WiFi to traffic shaping to core network offloading.

The interesting thing about this emerging market is the fact that there may be room for a plethora of solutions, providing opportunities for a range of companies as I expect operators to employ more than one solution to help alleviate the strain. The more efficiently and economically they can operate their networks, the better.

Here's a snapshot of what is going to be announced this week:

  • Networking giant Juniper will introduce Juniper Traffic Direct, which is designed to offload bulk data traffic to the Internet to ease congestion.
  • BelAir Networks is announcing the new BelAir100N wireless access point, a carrier-grade dual-radio 802.11n WiFi AP designed to provide data offload to relieve mobile network congestion in areas of high user concentration.
  • The Femto Forum will be heavily pushing its recent research, which was conducted by Signals Research Group, showing that operators can use femtocells to efficiently manage rapidly growing mobile broadband usage while making a healthy return on their investments--in typical cases by more than 10 times.
  • Accuris Network announced it will introduce an enhancement to its AccuROAM product that enables data offload to WiFi and WiMAX networks using secure SIM-based authentication with existing mobile networks. It includes billing, settlement and reconciliation between the IP-based network and the mobile billing environment.
  • Policy control specialist Bridgewater Systems announced a new data offloading solution designed to securely and transparently re-authenticate and re-authorize subscribers while performing accounting functions as they move from a congested 3G network to a WiFi hotspot, indoor femtocell or 4G network.

These will be just a handful of what is expected to be announced. The Fierce editorial team will be in full force in Barcelona this week. Sue Marek, Jason Ankeny and Mike Dano will be on the ground and bringing you all the latest news from the press conferences, keynotes and show floor. Look for some interesting executive interviews and a few surprise announcements in our newsletters and on our Mobile World Congress mini site.-Lynette