Study: Connected Cars to Cause Mobile Network Traffic Jams

Study: Connected Cars to Cause Mobile Network Traffic Jams

Rush hour could see data traffic double in certain cells, presenting major challenges to network planning and optimization teams.

A new independent study from Machina Research today reveals the network management challenges that connected cars will present to mobile operators. The report, commissioned by network assurance and analytics company TEOCO, reveals that rush hour will have grave implications for mobile networks, with certain cells set to experience a 97 per cent increase in data traffic over the next ten years. Connected cars will be the key driver of this sharp increase in network usage.

Matt Hatton, founder and CEO, Machina Research, said:

“Connected cars, as with other M2M devices, don’t behave like smartphones. They represent a very diverse set of challenges to operators through highly varying network traffic patterns at different times of the day.”

Mobile operators are preparing for a significant rise in machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. By 2024, Machina Research anticipates that mobile networks will see these connections increase from 250 million in 2014 to more than 2.3 billion worldwide. Despite this, M2M applications and services will account for just 4 per cent of overall network traffic in the same timeframe. M2M devices, including connected cars, might not consume high volumes of data, but they do have very different demands to tablets and smartphones, which operators must make special plans for.

Hatton continues:
“In terms of overall data volumes, connected cars don’t present much of a problem. But network resource management is not based on total traffic volume, it’s based on particular cell sites during peak times of network use. If connected cars regularly cause network traffic spikes in a particular location that can’t be met, there are implications for operators in meeting SLAs and delivering a positive quality of experience.”

“The connected car is just one of many M2M use cases that will put new and unusual demands on network usage that mobile operators will need to resolve,” said Steve Bowker, VP Technology and Strategy, TEOCO.
“In all cases, operators will need to identify where and when the network traffic is generated, measure the volume, and analyze the type of traffic as well. They’ll need to more seriously consider how to cope with these demands for reduced latency, higher bandwidth, more signaling and higher QoS. This requires a more sophisticated and comprehensive approach to mobile network planning.”

The report outlines a number of areas that operators must prioritize to cope with the uptake in M2M connections. These include:

  • Dynamic network management and RAN optimization: this applies to both to RAN and backhaul planning and necessitates a multi-faceted approach to network management that can cope with varying demands from different devices for network capacity and QoS.
  • Support for greater diversity in access networks: operators will need to cope with, and manage the inter-relationship between all access networks (including Wi-Fi, LPWA networks) at their disposal. This includes the management of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
  • More sophisticated planning tools: based on existing trajectories, M2M is likely to make up two thirds of all connections within the next ten years. Operators will need planning tools that can cope with this diversity.
  • An increased focus on device management: the number and diversity of devices connecting to a network will increase exponentially. Each of these devices has the potential to introduce interference into the network and degrade quality of service for all other users. A robust certification process and service assurance capabilities are therefore needed.
  • A more considered approach to spectrum re-farming: M2M devices are more sensitive to spectrum re-farming. They will have lifespans measured in decades and be installed in hard to reach places making them difficult to swap out. This will have a big impact on how operators choose to re-farm their spectrum.
Cellular M2M connections split 2014-2024 :
Global cellular M2M connections 2014-24
Global cellular M2M connections 2014-24 [Source: Machina Research, 2015]

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