Mobile operators choke on power bill

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Mobile operators choke on power bill

Power consumption will force operators to rethink mobile broadband rollouts.

Power consumption will force operators to rethink mobile broadband rollouts.

Mobile operators must swallow a "bitter pill" as they try to face up to the conflicting needs of reducing power consumption while deploying next-gen broadband networks, analysts warned today.

ABI Research noted that power consumption is one of the top three network operating expenses for carriers, and should be at the core of their technology choices for mobile broadband.

The analyst firm further observed that carriers are putting significant investment into rolling out 3G networks, and will continue to do so as these networks evolve toward 4G over the next several years.

However, a new study by ABI indicated that cellular mobile technologies used in isolation might not be the best route for maximising margins. Instead, WiMax or Metro Wi-Fi could offer a way out of the dilemma.

Principal ABI analyst Stuart Carlaw said: "As soon as data consumption reaches between two and three times today's levels, a tipping point is reached at which cell shrinkage and capacity degradation for WCDMA and CDMA2000 networks mean that carriers will need to install extra network elements that support the subscriber base, at considerable expense.

"More importantly, the power consumption required to support these upgrades will destroy any potential benefit carriers see from data revenues."

The ABI study found that, from a conceptual perspective, such mixed networks are still in their infancy.

The best way to support mobile broadband will be to integrate current cellular offerings with targeted WiMax and Metro Wi-Fi deployments in dense high traffic areas.

Such mixed networks could deliver significant savings, according to ABI Research forecasts.

"Some wireless operators are already laying the groundwork for these developments. Sprint has nominated WiMax as its 4G technology of choice, while T-Mobile is moving towards integration of its Wi-Fi hotspot and cellular networks," the report stated.

"Others, such as Vodafone, which have businesses based solely on cellular, may find themselves at a real disadvantage unless they act fast to consider other technologies."
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