Internet Week has an interesting blip about what the “experts” are forecasting for the next three years.
As service providers we need to be able to correctly understand and plan for what our customers will be demanding from our networks. To date, we have been able to depend on the bursty nature of internet traffic but I believe this is about to change as VoIP and IPTV start to become the norm.
Many of us are already seeing the pressure of customers evaluating our service based on the promised speed alone. How many of us have heard “The Cable Company is promising me 4Mbps and you are providing me with less.” as a way to start off the telephone call? What’s worse is that most of us do not have the ability to provide enough bandwidth to the net to allow for dozens of concurrent IPTV streams along with several VoIP calls.
This is a going to develop into a very serious shortfall within the net couple of years (if it even takes that long) for may WISPs who are not looking at the bigger picture. (no pun intended)
Well, what are the possible solutions? WiMAX? Possibly, but in order for WiMAX to be a meaningful solution two things will have to happen. First, the Licensed Exempt WiMAX will have to be introduced into the market soon enough for us to deploy the technology ahead of this expected demand. Second, it will have to be adopted in such quantities that the scale of economics will drive the prices down to a level we all can tolerate.
Right now, the only other options that seem to be available are concentrating on building out a 5GHz “premium service” using some of the off-the-shelf hardware we have at our disposal. This may be an interim step as even these systems have a finite capacity for continuous streams. The other viable option might be MIMO (still too early to reliably say) as the aggregate throughput for the 2.4GHz equipment is advertised at 45Mbps. The 5GHz MIMO equipment claims to be able to push 200Mbps while still maintaining backwards compatibility with 802.11a/b/g devices.
On the good side, WISPs have a nearly flawless track record of finding inexpensive solutions when we need to. This may yet be one of our steepest challenges as we move from the “Internet Age” into an industry of connectivity.
Gone are the days where we could get by with providing only email and surfing.
Welcome to the next generation of communications.