'Melting pot' of technologies needed for data explosion

As consumer mobile Web usage veer toward videos and rich media that require more bandwidth, coexistence of wireless technologies will help mitigate network strain, says industry insider.

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--Operators have to tap the "melting pot" of available spectrum and technologies to manage the bandwidth strain, brought on by growing mobile Internet consumption, on wireless networks.

According to Packet One Networks CEO Michael Lai, there needs to be a "coexistence" of technology that straddles the spectrum of radio frequencies such as 3G, HSPA (high-speed packet access), WiMax, LTE (Long-term Evolution) and Wi-Fi.

Operators should also think more about consumer behavior rather than technology to ensure quality of service (QoS) is maintained, Lai said. The Malaysia-based executive was in town Thursday to speak at the mobile broadband forum held at the CommunicAsia tradeshow. Packet One is currently expanding its mobility offerings portfolio.

Lai revealed that the ecosystem behind the wireless technology is equally, if not more, important when deciding which system to deploy. This ecosystem consists of the mobile devices that support the wireless technology, as well as the applications that will be available, he explained.

TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) is an example of a maturing technology due to its infrastructure rollout and available devices coming out in the market, he noted.

In a ZDNet Asia report Wednesday, Stephen Hire, director of marketing at testing and measurement company, Aeroflex Asia, said the Chinese government's support for developing the TD-LTE ecosystem has allowed the technology to break out of its homebase to be adopted globally. Twenty-six networks worldwide are already actively trialing the technology, he said.

Data roaming woes
Another conference speaker, Supun Weerasinghe, group COO at Dialog Axiata, also fielded a query regarding the impact of next-generation wireless technologies on the cost of data roaming. Rather than technological innovations, he said bilateral agreements between big regional telecom operators such as Dialog Axiata and Vodafone will be "key" in bringing down roaming rates.

Acknowledging that high international roaming rates are a "dampener" to adoption and customer experience is currently "very bad", Weerasinghe noted that restoring customer confidence is high on his agenda.

"To increase adoption, we need to make sure there is no customer bill shock and they have the confidence that they are not being ripped off by operators," he said.

Speaking from the perspective of a consumer, Lai said the cost of overseas roaming "must not be so different" from local data rates that customers currently pay. He added that any intent to slash roaming rates would likely be consumer-driven since operators obviously would not want to reduce their revenue.

Earlier in March, a ZDNet online survey showed that users would like operators to cut data roaming prices by up to 80 percent to generate higher uptake of the service. Regional carriers ZDNet Asia spoke to attributed the high costs to inter-operator tariffs to tap on each other's infrastructure resources.