Wi-fi networks are expected to handle the majority of mobile data traffic by 2017, according to a report by Juniper on mobile data offload.
Data traffic generated by mobile handsets and tablets will reach 90,000 petabytes by 2017. This is equivalent to about 42 quadrillion tweets or seven billion Blu-ray movies.
Although unfathomable amounts of mobile data traffic is expected to be generated by mobile handsets and tablets by 2017, only 40 percent of the data will go over cellular networks.
Growth in data traffic is attributed to the advent of network technologies such as 3G and 4G driving the mobile network operators to monetise this activity by introducing a range of data-centric services allied to data and content bundles.
But traffic growth has continued to outpace revenue growth leading to congested and deteriorating networks. This problem can be solved by scaling, optimising and offloading.
Easing pressure on operators' networks
Scaling can ease pressure on operators' networks as it involves building out more towers and base stations or upgrading the network using next generation networks.
The other method to stop network from deterioration is optimisation, which helps in flow control. However, optimisation requires intensive packet inspection and correlation, by isolating the heavy data users.
Offloading helps in moving mobile data traffic from one network to another by leveraging complementary network technologies for the delivery of data via cellular networks.
Wi-fi and small cells are the two main network technologies used for mobile data offloading.
Looking forward, mobile network operators will integrate wi-fi and femtocells as one single unit to solve this capacity problem.