MIT Technology Review has a great article on how mobile network traffic has changed from the days of modeling just for voice traffic. Data packages for our iPhones and Droids are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. For this reason Verizon Wireless and AT&T wireless are relying on predictive traffic modelers to plan for network upgrades. These modelers in the past have been used to predict traffic 18 months into the future. Typically, though, the carriers use the modelers to set a baseline and then update that baseline every month.
What is making modeling for network upgrades more challenging is ad hoc events (not just baseball, football, basketball) such as movies. More and more smartphone users are emailing or posting their thoughts, pictures and sound bites to Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and other social networks during the movie or as the movie ends. The same thing happens after concerts, operas (if you can believe grandma blogs) and as was recently reported, Spiderman’s broadway debut. And of course our tech savvy politicians are also Facebook and Twitter in vain, and sometimes funny, attempt to be classified as hip and trendy.
The resolution is a mixed bag approach to things. First, a quantifiable understanding how each smartphone manufacturer designs their device to interact with the mobile network. Second, how mobile enabled apps interact with both the carrier network and the handset. Third and finally a balanced approach to hardware and software augments to address network related issues such as inefficient routing, congestion areas and carrier equipment failure.
All in all, the article is well written and does a great job explaining to the everyman why our smartphone drops calls, cannot text, or loses the data connection. In a world where mobile connectivity is a required commodity, this is definitely one area where a mobile carrier can differentiate itself as service focused from its nearest next competitor. And one particular carrier could benefit from improved customer service.
An article posted here describes the potential use of 900Mhz whitespace for mobile networks. This is the same range used by your cordless phone, baby monitors, and other consumer based wireless devices. The network, working in the 900Mhz band, uses a currently proprietary technique to dynamically allocate bandwidth. If the cellular network detects a baby monitor or wireless security camera signal, the network nodes (or phones) adjust their allocated band to avoid the other signal or signals. The difference in the xG Technologies implementation is the system analyzes channel resources over time and thus provides the “dynamic” ability to adjust and avoid contention in the whitespace.
Cognitive radio can be deployed as similarly as conventional cell phone networks. For this reason, cognitive radio can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be deployed as adhoc networks for disaster recovery, on oil rigs, conferences, or remote locations where coverage is nonexistent. They can also be used as off-load networks, similar to how mobile carriers use WiFi and WiMax to support highly saturated 3G, 4G or LTE networks (New York, San Francisco). Or, they can be used as an “extension cord” network in areas, typically rural, where there is limited coverage.
The key component to this technology is using a resource, in this case the 900Mhz range, efficiently to deliver service. In a period where mobility use is expanding and will continue to expand, (DYK mobile phone carriers are spending up to 70% of their R&D budget and firm wide resources on mobility), the cognitive use of address space is becoming more relevant as a differentiator in the market place.
For reasons of need or desire, users are requiring to be consistently, quickly and constantly (CQC) connected to their information regardless of where they are. As the mobility market has demonstrated over time, should a user not be connected in a CQC fashion a service provider suffers from poor market perception, revolt, and ultimately declining revenue streams. And this is where Cognitive radio can flourish.