The global telecommunications industry faces an imminent crisis in the growth of mobile data traffic, and the industry's inability to meet growing demand with its present (and planned) infrastructure. Wireless carriers compete on the basis of coverage and performance, and both are at risk in the near future. Already the incidence of dropped cellular calls has increased markedly.
In response to accelerating demand, carriers are adjusting their business models, expanding coverage areas, deploying 4G and LTE networks, and taking advantage of picocells and femtocells to enhance available bandwidth. Most importantly, they are beginning to offload data traffic onto other networks, primarily WiFi. And yet, these measures will likely prove inadequate.
It is this dire need for carriers to find bandwidth quickly that has presented some unique business opportunities which are analyzed in a new report from Thintri, Inc. (www.thintri.com). Among those opportunities is bandwidth leasing, particularly in wireless systems.
The way out of the current crisis lies on a path similar to that taken by fixed wired broadband technologies, optical fiber in particular. An entire industry has sprung up around businesses setting up links and networks offering dark fiber and wavelength services, often for the sole purpose of selling or leasing this capacity. End users then lease or purchase optical fiber links already in place, or merely lease specific wavelengths on existing "lit" fibers or simply portions of a fiber cable's capacity.
Typically, leased wireless links would be used to extend the capacity of optical fiber networks to a range beyond where they can be profitably deployed, often for reasons of low population density.
The use of wireless links to extend fiber networks presents a significant opportunity even in more heavily populated areas, where fiber networks are established but nevertheless remain inaccessible for some, even for businesses in urban areas.
Emerging technologies such as millimeter wave systems and TV white space will be key components in bringing a "wireless dark fiber" model to bear on wireless networks, where wireless links can be set up for the purposes of offloading wireless data traffic from 4G /LTE networks, or simply to lease capacity, or entire links, to anyone who needs it. Both major carriers and smaller firms, similar to those managing dark fiber and wavelength services, are well situated to offer solutions specifically designed to address the burgeoning wireless bandwidth demand.
Bandwidth leasing in the coming bandwidth crisis presents an unusual opportunity for industry participants and other investors. Thintri's report, Opportunities in Broadband Leasing, presents an analysis of those opportunities, provides a survey of the imminent bandwidth crunch, its driving forces, the response of the telecommunications industry, a detailed discussion of potential alternatives and their markets, and demand for wireless broadband leasing over the decade. Forecasts are provided out to 2020.
By Scott Moore, PHd, guest writer from Thintri