In a piece of research that could have implications for the future of mobile broadband, a US analyst house has claimed new mobile applications will make pure mobile technology too energy-inefficient to be practical in the future.
Instead, suggests the report by ABI Research -- which is entitled, "Energy Efficiency Analysis for Mobile Broadband Solutions" -- operators may be forced to integrate WiMax and citywide (or metro) Wi-Fi into their networks.
Noting that energy costs represent the third most expensive operating expense (Opex) for carriers today -- and that energy costs continue to fluctuate and could rise -- the authors claim that the increase in data traffic resulting from the rise of mobile broadband "will push per-subscriber energy Opex for cellular solutions past acceptable barriers".
Stuart Carlaw, ABI's director of wireless research, said: "From a pure coverage perspective WiMax is twice as energy-cost-effective and metro Wi-Fi is 50 times more energy-cost-effective than WCDMA [a 3G network protocol].
"When data traffic is factored into the equation, WiMax can accommodate 11 times today's average data consumption and still be more energy-cost-efficient compared to WCDMA or HSDPA."
High speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) is an enhancement to existing 3G networks, which makes them significantly faster.
If ABI's predictions are accurate, there could be major implications for the mobile industry as the world moves towards greater energy efficiency and costs rise.
Dean Bubley, of Disruptive Analysis, also pointed out that femtocells -- essentially miniature mobile phone transmitters for the home or small office -- could provide another solution for operators looking to mitigate their energy costs. Noting that the devices, which are yet to be adopted by any UK operator, would see customers providing the backhaul (or underlying connection) for mobile broadband when at home, rather than the operators providing the network access, Bubley suggested this approach could have the subscriber "paying for the power supply as well".
David Meyer reported for ZDNet UK from London