The most important challenges facing the mobile industry

Future challenges facing the mobile industry
Can the mobile industry keep up with its own explosion?

The explosion of smart devices and the increased worker mobility this has brought to the enterprise represents one of the most significant developments of recent times in the tech industry.

But with networks straining under the weight of users and businesses now having less control over their valuable data than ever before, is our insatiable appetite for all things mobile in danger of putting us at risk?

In our Q&A session, John Spindler, VP of industry specialist TE Connectivity, told us about the dangers that have arisen from the mobile explosion and what we need to do to combat them.

TechRadar Pro: What are the biggest challenges facing the mobile industry at the moment?

John Spindler: One of the biggest challenges currently facing mobile operators is the increasing demand for capacity.

Data intensive devices are driving wireless throughput requirements upwards at an alarming rate, consequently putting a massive strain on networks that don't have the ability to cope with this increase in data traffic.

With 3G, users have experienced a number of issues, including slow internet access, delayed data downloads, interrupted streaming and jitter.

Indeed, as traditional network infrastructure is only really suited for less intense 2G services, operators are constantly looking for ways to increase the spectral efficiency of their networks.

Advanced mobile services are therefore putting huge pressure on mobile operators to re-evaluate their network architecture. The biggest challenge for operators at this stage is finding the most flexible and cost-effective infrastructure for next generation services.

In particular, being able to deliver the much needed capacity precisely when and where it is required to areas where a large majority of users rely on the network. In urban areas, for example, it is difficult to keep pace with network growth for capacity demands at work, home and at play.

Rural and remote communities, however, may struggle as the return on investment (ROI) may not necessitate the demand to bring service to these areas – this is something operators will need to address if everyone in the UK is to benefit from the huge benefits advanced mobile services has to offer.

TRP: Will these get worse as 4G continues to be rolled out?

JS: Since smartphone traffic is expected to increase tenfold in the next five years, the rollout of 4G will have a huge part to play in the smartphone boom predicted, which means operators are under growing pressure to optimise their network infrastructure now, before it's too late.

With 2G and 3G services already failing to meet capacity demands, subscribers are becoming less and less tolerant of incidents when insufficient service means they are unable to access the mobile web.

With quality of service playing such a large part in levels of churn, mobile operators really cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to having the right infrastructure in place, not least because future demands – video included – look set to rise as the rollout of 4G continues.

In such a competitive marketplace, we see content providers building networks, net neutrality discussions occurring, and many other signs indicative of being in the throw of a growth crisis.

TRP: What is the impact of BYOD on the enterprise?

JS: The prevalence of smartphones and tablets means employees now expect their devices to work in every office location at all times. A mobile device is no longer just a phone; it supports business critical applications and is an essential tool inside corporate offices.

The 'bring your own device' (BYOD) trend is therefore threatening to swamp enterprise networks due to the sheer number of users all being in one place.

The evolving workforce is one of the main reasons for this – such as remote and home office staff, and the use of contract and temporary staff – as well as the growing role of technology in all types of businesses.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.