Smart Device v Dumb Pipe – can the networks cope?

Last week I attended the TEN event, ‘Smart Device v Dumb Pipe – Can the networks cope with the content demands of digital natives?’ The event took the form of a discussion panel with some pertinent questions raised. A few of the points raised by the panellists …

  • Video will dominate IP traffic and 3D will dominate in 5 years 
  • 40% of 3’s mobile broadband traffic is now video
  • By 2020 households will require 3GigaBIT per second bandwidth 
  • Mobile networks currently deliver speeds of 1.5 Mbs (on average) 
  • Before mobile, telecoms expenditure represented 1% of GDP; mobile took it to 2%. Will media take it to 3%? 
  • To drive revenue, content providers must create an emotional want from consumers 
  • Broadcast media must be the right quality for each device; HD for the home, lower resolution for mobile devices 
  • Should delivery be capped to stop service degradation for all?
  • Content providers must have control of content quality 
  • Adaptive bit rate technology would allow graceful service quality degradation for all but takes away control from content owners 
  • Digital privacy is an issue because users don’t understand it and content providers don’t manage it consistently or in some cases responsibly 
  • Who is responsible for security?
  • Mobile coverage is still a big issue but who should pay to make it contiguous


There is still limited consensus about what the relationship should be between content and network providers.  IP content delivery and consumption is still in its early stages and will need significant additional bandwidth across both fixed and mobile networks to deliver an acceptable quality of service, as the demand for services like video grows.  There is little indication that the networks understand what this means for them yet and that they have the network expansion plans in place.

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