The Future Of Communications: LTE, 3G, Femtocell Or Wi-Fi?
You have probably already known that, but for those of you who might miss something:
- there are dozens of LTE networks around the world and lots of predictions that this standard is the communication future of the humanity, but there are many real problems with the infrastructure and terminal equipment
- there are hundreds of 3G networks around the planet with billions of subscribers using them
- the quantity of Wi-Fi networks is even bigger and according to the analytics’ predictions more than 95% of all mobile devices will have built-in Wi-Fi module until 2015
Considering that in 2016-2017 there will be 15-17 billion of mobile devices in the world you can only imagine the full potential of this technology, especially if you think about the fact that most laptops already have built-in Wi-Fi chips and the quantity of smartphones and tablets with Wi-Fi modules is sprouting like mushrooms after the summer rains.
Morgan Stanley Investment Bank predicts that mobile internet traffic will grow 39 times between 2010 and 2014, going beyond 2TB per month. It is 20% higher than cautious predictions of other analytic agencies. But even the most conservative predictions are talking about mobile traffic growth in about 20 times in the years to come. And neither 3G nor LTE will be able to handle such huge data demand even despite their high-speed traffic access.
So large communication industry players have started to think about it and make some actions to solve this problem, and from what they do I can say that our planet is moving towards the Femtocell infrastructure. Just look by yourself:
- Vodafone has changed its strategy lately, moving from the macro networks development to Wi-Fi and Femtocell technologies
- Canadian company Shaw Communications have purchased LTE licenses in 2008 but eventually after detailed analysis and dozens of tests decided to forget about building Advanced LTE networks and start to deploy Wi-Fi Mesh networks using Cisco equipment for them
- American operator Cox Communications have spent more than half billion dollars for 3G and LTE licenses and even deployed 3G infrastructure, but after few years decided to leave this 3G business. They have focused on reusing the Sprint Nextel mobile equipment infrastructure and their customer services
- The cost of transferring data through Wi-Fi is only about 10% of the usage of 3G network for the same amount of data, so in the nearest future such thing as mobile traffic data offload from 3G to Wi-Fi networks will be quite normal issue
- Femtocell device is a mini 3G or 4G/LTE base station so it might be unavailable to most of the customers due to the future Wi-Fi usage abundance, especially if consider the fact that plenty of simple tablets and other mobile devices has only Wi-Fi connectivity but no 3G or 4G/LTE one. It will lead to the Wi-Fi hotspot necessity along with Femtocell access. And by the way, 3G and even LTE speed is nothing in comparison with 802.11n devices’ speed, which in the nearest future will be even more fast in 802.11ас devices
- After many serious analytic researches АТ&Т have decided to implement large-scale Wi-Fi network development as an addition to its 3G network. They acquired one company that owns a lot of hotspots and with their resources AT&T has more than 20 000 hotspots now. They use all of those hotspots as both Wi-Fi access points and as an offload for their 3G mobile traffic data that results in growth of the capacity of their 3G network coverage in highly crowded locations
While all this might be awesome when we are talking about the better signal quality, bigger data stream and faster connections in the future, there is one huge problem you must know about – Femtocell complies with lawful interception requirements. What it means for you? It means that law enforcement agencies, authorities and intelligence agencies will have full rights to listen to your calls or find your location using all those Femtocell base stations to easily triangulate your coordinates, even indoors.
As long as Femtocell technology uses wide variety of frequency bands, ranging from 700MHz to 2600MHz, you will need multifrequency jammer tuned against Femtocell in order to arrange your security against this technology in the future.
What are your thoughts about it? Do you like how communications industry changes or you feel some threats it has? Share what you think in the comments!