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Smartphone Viewing

2 Apr, 2015 By: Thomas K. Arnold

A byproduct of the growing popularity of OTT is that consumers are judging their wireless carriers not by how cheap the service is, but by how smooth the streaming experience is.

I found that little pearl of information in a recent Ciena-sponsored study conducted by ACG Research, which predicts average bandwidth consumption per mobile user is expected to go up 52% over the next three years.

That sharp uptick in consumption is being fueled both by increasing smartphone penetration, which ACG believes will rise from 55% by 67% by 2018, as well as the growing trend among consumers to watch filmed content over their phones. ACG believes OTT use on smartphones will account for 59% of the predicted bandwidth consumption increase.

At first I questioned the validity of the study, picturing my almost nightly routine these past two months of watching a “Game of Thrones” episode, on Blu-ray, in my family room, on my trusty Panasonic plasma.

But then I caught myself watching a YouTube video during a particularly long red light, and even a half hour episode of a silly old 1960s sitcom while waiting at the doctor’s office for my annual physical.

And I figured if a home theater purist like me would stoop to watching stuff on a tiny smartphone screen simply because it is so cheap and so easy, then this truly must be the wave of the future. Just like home video flourished in the first place because we didn’t want to be tied down by the networks telling us what we can watch, and at what time, OTT and smartphones, together, have unleashed us from every conceivable restraint. And as more, and better, programming becomes available with the proliferation of OTT, so will our freedom increase.

The challenge for carriers, of course, will be to increase bandwidth accordingly. According to the ACG study, supporting backhaul capacity requirements will exceed 1 Gbps by 2018, “and this will be further intensified by the latest wireless standards such as LTE-Advanced and the introduction of more small cells, which are expected to deliver faster wireless services with broader coverage to users. Service providers need to take steps to deploy a mobile backhaul solution that supports 10 Gbps to meet this projected bandwidth and ensure quality of experience.”

As ACG research analyst Michael Kennedy noted in the Ciena press release, “Now more than ever, the quality of experience for the latest OTT applications is paramount and a key driver of customer loyalty. In three short years, these networks must offer broader coverage and handle more people using more applications on more devices at the same time. As a result, the backhaul infrastructure must transform to enable a more dynamic experience."


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