Have you noticed in the last year or so that you have been considering how you use your mobile device a little differently? The priority in your bundle used to be how many free minutes do I get? What is the calling rate between networks or to fixed lines? How many free texts do I get? etc.
Now we are starting to think a little more about how much data we are consuming on a monthly basis and what our priorities are. Consequently the operators are starting to do battle on the data limits, notably 3 who are offering unlimited downloads (read the small print re. fair usage) The fact is however, that although the networks have been striving for some time to get more data traffic and consequently revenues, essentially the networks of the last 10 – 15 years were designed primarily to support Voice. This is the case even with 3G. Data has been an add-on and always in contention with voice connections which have been the priority. After all, the money has been in voice and even now continues to be so.
This is causing the networks a quiet crisis as they struggle to keep pace with user demands and the rush of access products flooding the markets in both smart phones and dongles/routers. Within new LTE and 4G networks the intention is that all traffic will be carried as IP data. In this situation the payload can be voice, data, video, IM, whatever it will be handled within an ‘all IP’ connection driven infrastructure. When this becomes the case the way networks are billed with regard to Data will become ever more critical and even if traditional voice connections may well originate or terminate within traditional ‘non IP’ networks.
The considerable challenge of these new networks is the dynamic nature of the traffic. In the past capacity has been engineered on the basis of factored numbers of dedicated switched channels within an area or cell site. In the future it maybe more difficult to predict what sort of capacity is going to be needed at certain points when access devices can potentially run at high Mbit/s speeds and demand being non linear.
What remains to be seen is will the new networks deliver on their promises in terms of capacity and provide a sensible charging medium to reflect the value offered in an all IP data world?
Well, it is in fact very closely linked and it’s critical that the Digital TV Switchover we are all hearing so much about these last years goes ahead completely in 2012. The Government and broadcasters have been working hard for the last 10 years on making sure we are all moved off the old analogue delivery method and onto Digital. Most people have a DigiBox or it built into our TV sets and the final furlong is in sight now.
But have you asked why? Sure, it seems obvious that the signal quality will be better with HD channels being broadcast and new transmission techniques and more channels on Freeview but there is much more to it than that.
The radio waves in the UK are very busy and have been for some time. We all watch TV, listen to the radio, use our Mobiles and use a host of other wireless devices from WiFi to remote keys for cars and doors. All of this needs to operate within a known frequency band whether it is a licensed or unlicensed frequency band. Be very afraid if you start to interfere with some other electrical function or critical service – you may have the RA (Radio Agency) to deal with! To do a serious explanation of UK frequency spectrum would take a PhD thesis but the critical factor in all of this movement from Analogue TV to Digital TV is to free up the airwaves to launch 4Generation Mobile Broadband services.
It now transpires that this will not be all smooth running and that there will be some interference at the cross over points in the frequencies, particularly around 800MHz. Practically this is going to mean that whoever wins the licenses to operate 4G services is going to have to find some solution to delivering the broadcast services free from interference. This might involve using filters; it might involve paying for a satellite or cable service to those homes affected.
But why would you do that when you are building a super fast mobile network capable of delivering rich media content particularly video? Surely the technology will allow for a facility to deliver to individual homes; after all it is designed to run up to 1GBit/s to a static location. What remains to be seen is will it be economical to do so if a large number of homes have to be guaranteed a broadcast service above and beyond the other mobile connections that will be demanding rich media services.
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What is the future for Close Circuit TV with Mobile Broadband speeds reaching Fixed Broadband speeds in the near future?
Video is such a major part of our lives that we tend to take it for granted when it is all around us from the TVs in our homes to Youtube on our PCs and Smart Phones. But the expansion in speed in the Mobile world, 3G, UMTS, HSPA and 4G services is starting to open up possibilities that have never before been practical or even feasible.
Security services for example – On every corner in most major European cities you will find CCTV cameras but it is not so practical to put these systems into certain areas that would seriously benefit from monitoring and surveillance. High risk or secluded areas such as bus stops, remote storage, public vehicles and rural locations where data network availability has been limited or not even present. Wide area Broadband services now open up the possibility of providing a host of security services to remote locations and to bring back live video capture. Often legacy systems require local storage and some form of manual intervention to recover recordings. If a theft or attack is recorded the owner or authorities need to play catch up after the event to piece together the evidence. Not withstanding that the mobile operators need to offer suitable data packages for these applications it is certainly an application waiting for the service and there is a plethora of High Speed 4G CPE waiting to connect these networks. Broadband is no longer the exclusive domain of the fixed operators! There a host of legacy systems awaiting retrofit and more new systems to install which, too date, have been impractical to deploy. 4G is going to be a major contributor to making these systems a success.