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As Mobile Traffic Explodes, What Becomes of 4G?

Two things are pretty undeniable when it comes to mobile.

One is that "online" activity (which is a pretty archaic term - most of us don't "go online" anymore; we're already there nearly all the time, even before we get out of bed in the morning) is shifting toward mobile.  Whether you look at the Cisco Visual Networking Index, or the comprehensive, though now somewhat dated, Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report, or any of the hundreds of other indicators - mobile traffic is growing exponentially and shows no signs of leveling anytime soon.

The other is that available bandwidth (or, more properly, "spectrum") to deliver mobile experiences is at a premium.  Earlier this month, for instance, Verizon revealed in an FCC filing that without additional spectrum allocation, they will begin to run out of "4G" LTE spectrum by 2013.  Yes, that's right - 4G spectrum will begin to be a scarce resource starting next year.  4G, that new fancy high-speed spectrum that power users covet and that Apple just began to support with its new iPad.

We, as users of mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, are voracious.  We've collectively discovered the convenience and value of accessing web sites and using apps wherever we roam, our expectations are higher than they are for desktop sites, and we want more.  Much more.

Clearly, this unprecedented demand is forcing a radical response.  Mobile network companies are building out capacity as rapidly as they can.  Designers of mobile web sites and apps are doing what they can to "lighten" the amount of data required to deliver meaningful sites and apps that are still highly engaging for users.  But there's only so much that can be done to reduce data payloads before designers start to cut into the user experience.

Our belief is that the best approach to an improved mobile experience is a layered one.  Certainly, working diligently to reduce the data associated with a mobile web page or data payload for a native app is a critical step toward improving mobile performance.  But there's quite a bit more that can be done.

With today's launch of Aqua Mobile Accelerator, Akamai has improved how mobile data is accelerated for companies delivering content and applications, helping improve mobile experiences for consumers and business users of both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. Additionally, Akamai's recent acquisition of Blaze will introduce new front-end optimizations to further reduce data payloads and the number of requests necessary to deliver a mobile web page, resulting in even faster delivery time. And our partnership with Ericsson continues to develop an end-to-end solution that will benefit users where they need it the most - within mobile networks.

The promise of what mobile technology can deliver is still coming into focus.  It's extraordinary how much has come to fruition in such a short time.

And we're just getting started.

M.J. Johnson is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai

1 Comment

Dear Johnson,

I am presently carrying my research on 4G and
Can you please elaborate on the 4G being a scare resource?

Thanks in advance