Big Data Will Present Big Opportunities for Carriers in 2016

This blog is part of an ongoing series written by TeleWorld Solutions experts who are offering their perspectives on where things may be headed in 2016.

There are a lot of changes taking place in the telecom industry, driven by the proliferation of mobile devices. And there’s been a lot of talk about just how much traffic growth is being driven by data.

One consequence of this is that every carrier is fighting to gain spectrum efficiency to cope with the exploding demand for bandwidth, which is growing faster than operators have experienced before. Cisco’s latest annual Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, released in February, estimates that world Internet traffic will grow nearly eightfold from 2015 to 2020! This is challenging carriers to enhance efficient use of their spectrum. The best examples of such efforts are carrier aggregations, LTE-U or LTE-LAA, C-RAN, and other direct or indirect ways of increasing spectral efficiency.

Along with such software features and technologies, I believe that in 2016 the sheer volume of traffic will also drive the growth of small cells, DAS, software-defined networks that can adapt to changing usage patterns, and network virtualization. All are solutions that the industry is paying attention to.

But there’s another trend we haven’t talked about yet that has great potential to help network operators cope with this flood of traffic. That’s data analytics, and I think it will continue to be a driving force this year.

What we have moving across carriers’ networks is the very definition of Big Data. Billions and billions of bytes of information, every second of every day. It is Big Data that can help operators figure out the most efficient ways to use their networks, determine where there are underserved potential markets, and pinpoint areas to focus their investments to enhance services.

Customizing Big Data can be unique – per project, per carrier, per use. It can provide insight into who is using a network and how, such as which age groups are using which applications. That kind of precise defining of customers and network utilization can provide huge benefits in designing and operating networks for maximum efficiency.

The influx of data will continue to rise in 2016, providing carriers with a wealth of information upon which to build out their networks and services. The question of how best to harness this data will remain prevalent, though. This will lead to a large push to develop analytical tools and processes that can give carriers a far more detailed understanding of their network environment, including who is using the network and where and how they’re using it.

Once the tools have been developed, carriers will have a treasure trove of data they can use to great advantage. They’ll be able to better utilize existing networks and consider different ways of thinking about investing in expanding networks. Best of all, they’ll be able to offer new kinds of services that can help end users enhance their own efficiencies and quality of life. In turn, carriers will become more valuable to those users – just as the users’ data has become more valuable to the carriers.

Jong-Hak Jung

Design, Optimization, and Simulation