AT&T's Rinne campaigns for spectrally efficient mobile video

LAS VEGAS--With the mobile industry increasingly relying on the growth of data services to fuel its expansion, AT&T is calling upon application developers to help keep data traffic from choking mobile networks.

Speaking yesterday during a lunchtime keynote at FierceWireless' co-located CITA event, The Path to 4G, held here in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference, Kris Rinne, senior vice president of architecture and planning at AT&T, compared the evolving wireless industry with the strange world of Wonderland that Alice discovered when she slid down the rabbit hole. "In the same way, AT&T has found ourselves in a whole new world with the popularity of 3G smartphones and the application explosion that's happened over our network," she said.

"Video is driving a great deal of the bandwidth demand for the network," said Rinne, noting that global mobile video traffic was up 72 percent in the second half of 2009, and YouTube now accounts for 10 percent of all mobile broadband traffic worldwide. Similarly, Flickster movie-trailer viewing over smartphones recently experienced a 600 percent year-over-year growth rate.

"Rest assured that AT&T has been reviewing a number of websites looking for differences in downloads of two-minutes of streaming video. Those differences are stunning," she said. One site in particular required eight times the amount of data for a download, compared with the most-efficient site's data requirements, with no visible difference in video quality from the customer standpoint.

Rinne called for collaboration between carriers, content providers and application developers to create new mobile video standards to enable the efficient delivery of video over mobile broadband networks. "Such innovation will enable reduced costs and improved quality for our common end users," she said.

Rinne's comments echoed those made earlier in the day by Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. During his keynote address kicking off the CTIA Wireless show, de la Vega called for developers to focus on spectral efficiency when designing applications.

Meanwhile, Rinne also defended AT&T's plan to initiate LTE network deployments in 2011 rather than 2010. Rival Verizon Wireless intends to launch 25-30 commercial LTE markets later this year, covering 100 million POPs. Rinne contended that AT&T's LTE network launch is more closely aligned with expected device availability, and said that when it comes to being the first to market "reality is much more subtle with many more shades of gray."

AT&T is deploying an HSPA 7.2 software upgrade to its network. And while the faster HSPA+ upgrade is not officially on the company's roadmap, Rinne said, "We have HSPA+ in our labs and could deploy it if the opportunity arises."

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