The growing population of mobile users will fuel demand for better broadband. "Today, the average mobile broadband connection generates 1.3 gigabytes of traffic per month," Gillath says. "By 2014, the average mobile broadband connection will generate seven gigabytes of traffic per month. During the past decade, business wireless infrastructure has been developed mostly to support business applications such as voice, e-mail, ordering, and tracking. It was largely independent from Internet and Intranet access." But with the advent of smart phones that have broadband connectivity and Internet access, almost every business function can be done remotely.
As a result, Gillath says, many industries will move from fixed-location work environments to a dispersed mobile world. Businesses that do not recognize this trend will lose market competitiveness.
"In the past there were only stationary computers demanding broadband, then some of them got mobile in the form of laptops," Terve says. "Still, bandwidth availability was manageable, as there were not too many users and most used low-bandwidth applications, such as ordinary browsing and e-mail. Over the past few years, the demand for broadband has exploded in the new iPhone era, where all types of devices are connected to the Internet and users expect a high-speed experience everywhere, at any time."
This trend follows the proliferation of devices that are now becoming IP-enabled, including televisions, cameras, power meters, and gaming consoles.
"We see that for mobile 3G data operators, controlling available bandwidth has become a headache," Terve says. "This has led to a growing demand for 3G data offloading solutions, where the users are automatically transferred to a less expensive connection when in range."
Since producing broadband cellular networks is costly, mobile providers will turn to Wi-Fi to complement service. They have already begun to build Wi-Fi networks in locations with a high number of mobile broadband users, such as university campuses and shopping malls.
"Broadband accessibility will continue to be important," Langholz says. "Wireless solutions cannot stand up to the speed, quality of service, capacity, or reliability of data offered from a broadband connection."