Why We Need Fat Mobile Pipes

I am sitting in Dallas Grapevine, Texas, at a meeting discussing LTE and HSPA technical standards, and I thought I’d share some of the compelling statistics tied to the use of mobile broadband and the need for fat mobile pipes. How fat? HSPA offers speeds of up to 42 Mbps downlink and LTE has theoretical speeds of up to 150 Mbps down.

Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas, offered up some more realistic throughputs at the meeting, hosted by the Portable Computer and Communications Association. Pearson cited data from Rysavy Research offering 5 Mbps down as a realistic HSPA speed and 10 Mbps down for LTE. And people will need such speed and capacity.

Pearson pointed out that 47 percent of people aged 18-24 name the mobile phone as their favorite personal electronic device, compared with only 38 percent favoring the computer. He also showed a graph of takeup rates for wireless-based technologies such as text or picture messaging compared to things like cars and cable. Notable is not just how high the uptake of wireless devices is (4 billion wireless subscriptions compared to only 800 million cable TV subscriptions), but the number of technologies that are seated on a wireless device, such as camera phones, SMS and mobile data.


Regardless of actual speeds, people are using data whenever they can. Petter Blomberg, director of wireless access solutions at Ericsson (s ERIC) displayed the slide below showing how much data traffic has increased just in the last two years. As the iPhone (s aapl) has shown us (and as AT&T (s T) is hopefully learning), speed isn’t an option — it’s a necessity.