CHICAGO--In the past eight years mobile data traffic has tripled and that growth curve is not likely to stop anytime soon, an Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) executive said. Speaking at the 4G World conference here, Ericsson CTO Hakan Eriksson detailed his vision for the next decade of wireless and how he believes that the industry will surpass 50 billion wirelessly connected devices by 2020. But that vision also came with a warning to operators to differentiate their networks from the competition and not give away connectivity.
Specifically, Eriksson said that by 2020 he expects there to be 1,000 times the amount of data on wireless networks thanks to wireless modules being integrated into all types of devices. How will wireless operators handle that amount of data traffic? Eriksson believes that by 2020 there could be as much as 1500 MHz of spectrum available for the wireless industry and that because LTE is much more efficient than current wireless technologies, operators will be able to increase their network capacity by deploying more base stations and, in particular, expanding the micro-network by deploying picocells. "Pico base stations, by a factor of 10, increase the capacity of network," Eriksson said.
Ericsson has never been an advocate for the femtocell and Eriksson said that he believes WiFi will likely be used in the home rather than femtocells because WiFi effectively offloads traffic from the macro network, while femtocells do not.
He also warned that operators need to evaluate how they are going to charge for this bandwidth, saying it is pointless to charge for minutes. "You can charge a flat fee but you have to differentiate what is going on with the data," he said, meaning that operators should have quality of service on their network that can tell them what type of applications or services a consumer is using. "Connectivity becomes a differentiator," he said. " But connectivity must be application aware and applications must be connectivity aware."
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