M2M, mobile data traffic and next generation backhaul

John Naylon

(Blog) — M2M communications are transforming the world into one where everything and everyone is networked and connected. The GSMA and Machina Research predict that the number of connected devices is set to double over the next eight years to 50 billion globally. If that’s correct, writes Dr John Naylon (pictured) of CBNL, communication between these connected devices will explode.

But what does this mean for the operator and the consumer? How will the proliferation of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications affect mobile data traffic and how can operators future-proof their networks and ensure that they are ready for the connected device explosion?

Debate in the industry has been centred on whether mobile operators and their network infrastructure can actually cope with the data demand that is expected with a critical mass of M2M applications. Some would lead us to believe that compared to hypothetical, purpose-built M2M communication systems, current operator networks are not up to the job. Despite migration to 3G and LTE base stations, the proliferation of mobile connected devices continue to drive demand on networks and is challenging operators’ strategies to increase capacity and connectivity.

However, from an operator’s perspective, M2M communications is just another step in the inevitable modernisation of next generation networks. It is imperative that operators deliver every bit of data at the lowest possible cost to not only increase capacities but to lower TCO and maintain profitability.

The best strategy to achieve this requirement is not always so clear. Innovative next generation solutions such as small cells are the types of technologies that operators need to be considering to meet this challenge.

As always, the cost of mobile backhaul is a paramount consideration in running and launching new services, and indeed small cell backhaul equipment is forecast to expand very dramatically. Whilst the challenge of providing high-capacity, carrier-grade backhaul to outdoor small cells has been much discussed, it is no longer seen as a barrier by forward thinking operators.

A range of efficient and flexible wireless technologies, including point-to-multipoint (PMP), is providing more cost-effective carrier-grade networks for operators than traditional backhaul techniques.  For instance, PMP saves spectral resources and equipment through aggregating backhaul traffic from multiple cell sites. This innovative use of wireless technology creates up to 50% TCO savings whilst delivering guaranteed quality of service over licensed spectrum.

Ultimately, M2M communications are designed to enable products and services that powerfully enrich peoples’ lives. Current operator networks, built for voice and data transport, are already creaking under the weight of mobile data traffic and that’s even before your car checks the traffic along your route and uploads its maintenance data! However the rate of innovation in architecture and technology in all parts of the mobile network is truly remarkable. With wireless technologies coming to the fore, consumers can look forward to a more intelligent and connected world with networks that live up to their demands.

M2M Now Jargon Buster
M2M = Machine-to-machine
PMP = Point-to-multipoint
TCO = Total Cost of Ownership

The author of this blog is Dr John Naylon, chief technology officer at CBNL. Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd (CBNL) specialises in point-to-multipoint wireless backhaul and access solutions. Its innovative next generation wireless backhaul solutions are used by telecoms network providers across the globe, meeting the need to improve network capacity and spectral efficiency under ever increasing mobile data growth demands.

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