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Virgin Media Business Warns of Bottomless Pit for Mobile Data Use

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 (9:00 pm) - Score 751

Virgin Media Business has warned that UK Mobile Broadband operators are facing a “bottomless pit” as they attempt to adapt to rising levels of data usage, which has increased by 250% over the past two years alone, especially with superfast “4G” services being just around the corner.

The operator states that much of this demand is coming from popular video streaming apps (iPlayer and YouTube), which now come as standard on 83% of handsets, and by 2015 it’s estimated people will be using thirty times more mobile data than they were in 2009.

George Wareing, Head of Mobile at VMB, said:

There’s a big job on for mobile network operators. Simply put, mobile data usage is like a bottomless pit, it’s expanding all the time. We’re all looking forward to the benefits of 4G, but it raises some tough questions for operators.

There is a delicate balance between customer demand, customer experience and costs. To avoid penalising people for watching their favourite shows or music videos on the move, operators are looking at fibre-based backhaul for cell sites. This can help to ease the strain and provide a permanent fix.

People aren’t going to give up this trend for streaming content and all the indications are it’s going to increase. Operators need to think about the long-term impact and put in place a strategy that’ll make sure customers aren’t affected by a potential bottlenecking of services.”

Naturally VMB has a vested interest in helping operators to meet that demand, although at the same time they do make some valid points. Most consumers will not be able to take full advantage of the best “4G” speeds partly because there won’t be enough capacity to meet demand. But that’s normal for any shared mass consumer service.

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew says:

    Fibre backhaul will only help if the congestion actually on the Backhaul and not on the RF side of things.

    If it’s on the RF side of things then they can only bring additional capacity online if they have enough licensed sepectrum available that’s not being used by the adjacent cells.

  2. The mobile operators will have their CDN’s to cut costs in transit and bandwidth and so on. If it’s back haul to the cells then sorry Virgin but they’ll have news for you, they’ll go to who can provide the service at the most competitive cost to them with the capacity they need. This (in)conveniently looks like it matches up to their recent tariff management measures on their 100M package…I’m presuming they use the same network between business and residential.

    4G isn’t just going to be just about streaming. With a good enough signal, applications such as gaming will also become a possibility. This mean demand for fast response times and large throughput for game updates. Fixed line providers have an interesting future ahead which is why we’re seeing a big push in WiFi services from a lot of them.

    As a consumer I’m very happy about all this, I just wish 4G wasn’t being held up so much.

  3. Avatar Deduction says:

    Any Operator be they of mobile internet or fixed line which moan about having to adapt to users increased usage and video on demand apps better get use to it.

    They are worried about things like iplayer right now, by 2015 1080p video will start to look old tat and by 2020 i suspect 4k resolutions along with obviously higher bitrate will be becoming more common place.

    Bottomless pit……. I spose you could call it that, though “Progress” which some providers do not like seems to be a more apt term.

    Maybe if the likes of Virgin and BT spent for the future rather than the sticky plaster solutions (IE Virgin just up’ing speeds without having the bandwidth and BT spending millions on half baked FTTC) maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about the future and “progress” so much.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Quote “half baked FTTC”

      Have you read this, highlights theoretical max speeds from copper local loop from cabinet to home or office
      http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/technology-research/asses.pdf

      And this shows some real-world speeds just using profile 17a
      http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/5160.html

      Not much half-baked about these speeds, nor the max speeds projected in the Ofcom report! Helpfully gives data about D side lengths – ~90% of us on 1km or less, ~ 70% 500m or less (fig 4, page 4). So 70% could get Close to 80Mbps d/s on FTTC, which should meet our needs for a fair while, and with FTTP on demand from next year for those wanting more.

  4. Avatar bob says:

    Mobile is simply not suitable for high bandwidth applications. It is down to the nature of the technology. To handle higher demand the cells have to get smaller & smaller and that sends costs through the roof and that is without the technical problems such as potentially running out of frequencies for the cells.

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