The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T saw wireless networks about to drown under a deluge of data. To see YouTube content uploaded form an iPhone or Slingbox rerouting a favourite television program to your smart phone gives mobile network operators the shivers. Skype over 3G in the meantime gives sleepless nights, not because of surging megabyte floods but due to nightmares of considerable voice and roaming revenues washing away.
Not easy to plan and engineer "managed transitions" under those circumstances. Defensive moves such as punitive surcharges when the customer exceeds the rather meagre number of megs most plans allow for, or forcing handset suppliers to block favourite applications, will not make you particularly popular with a young and demanding customer base who consider communication a fundamental right. Capacity increase is the obvious answer but requires investment. HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) was supposed to provide short to medium term relief to bandwidth stress while LTE would lead to the nirvana of unrestricted and presumably affordable wireless broadband access. In the meantime the villain of 3G and 4G protagonists remains mobile Wimax which could provide a viable alternative, opening their lucrative market to unwelcome newcomers.
Faced with deluges of data and floods of handsets and applications, a drought of IP addresses might seem trivial.
Over the last three years growing demand for mobile data has been met by rapid fire announcements and deployments of HSDPA and HSUPA and now of souped up versions like HSPA+. The only glitch was that this carefully planned evolutionary path did not anticipate the iPhone and the cohort of smartphones or the nascent Netbook phenomenon. Once again, a cocktail of creativity and new technology provided the proverbial discontinuity. Only possible answer: bring the Long Term nearer and deliver LTE now! Verizon, Teliasonera, NTT Docomo and other heavyweights now plan LTE deployment starting in 2010! As of May 27th thirty one operators are already being committed and the race is on to gain a competitive advantage. Ten of them plan initial commercial deployment by end of next year!
'IPv6 Transition Considerations for LTE and Evolved Packet Core' is hardly the title for a novel to read on your next plane trip, but time has come to go through this excellent white paper published in March by 3G Americas.
As their president, Chris Pearson, stated: "The time is now for the entire converged wireless ecosystem of operators, vendors and regulators to fully plan and implement IPv6 transition strategies to ensure our great industry continues to prosper" adding that as today's four billion wireless subscribers transition to Internet-capable mobile devices, the need for IPv6 addresses becomes more apparent.
Well, time to act might come sooner than anticipated; while many remain unfazed by the imminent prospect of a severe drought of internet addresses, the very idea of drowning under a deluge of data is definitely not palatable. Mobile Network Operators need LTE. LTE needs IPv6. Ergo they need IPv6. Does the syllogism hold?
Maybe 3G Americas and GSMA should consider sending a friendly reminder to their constituents, as ARIN did to theirs last month. Some constituents are member of both and if they fear neither drought nor deluge, well…
By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications. (Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.)
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