Smarter Smartphones Driving a Bigger Appetite for Data

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The smartphone juggernaut keeps on moving ahead according to recent market data. Let’s take this report from Gartner – Market Share Analysis : Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 4Q13 and 2013 – which highlights some astonishing growth in smartphone adoption.

Here are some factoids that tell you what’s happening: • Worldwide smartphone sales totaled 968 million units in 2013 – an increase of 42.3% from 2012 • Sales of smartphones accounted for 53.6% of overall mobile phone sales in 2013, exceeding annual sales of feature phones for the first time (total mobile unit sales were 1.8 billion) • Android’s 2013 global market share was 78.4%; vs 15.6% for iOS • India exhibited the highest sales growth for Q4 smartphone sales; Latin America accounted for the strongest regional growth

3.6.14

Gartner says there is no sign of the market slowing time anytime soon with Android sales alone expected to approach 1 billion units in 2014. But there’s more to this under the surface than just sales growth. Data consumption is becoming an even bigger story.

Actix research on global mobile users and their impact on radio access networks (RANs) shows that smartphones launched in 2013 consumed seven times the data of phones launched in 2009 and 40% more than 2012 models. It also says that tablet users consume more than twice as much data as smartphones, while MiFi users drive almost nine times more data consumption. (By way of explanation, RAN is the part of the network that connects the mobile phone to the nearest antenna.)

Right now 95% of that data is being consumed on smartphones rather than tablets, but all that may change as tablets get more affordable. So can RANs keep up? There’s no question that RANs are struggling under the data burden and that various supporting technology architectures are coming to the rescue in concert. The most obvious are fiber-fed distributed antenna systems (DAS), small cells and various Wi-Fi offload alternatives. Of course the migration from 3G HSPA-based RANs to 4G LTE-based RANs provide more capacity. This increased capacity, depending on subscriber adoption, can often be relatively short-lived in densely populated environments.

With network infrastructure upgrades happening at a much slower pace than smartphone adoption and data usage, do you think mounting pressure will make or break these networks?

By the Cel-Fi Team

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