Will cloud services stress wireless networks too far?

With the growing trend for cloud services, networks must develop new approaches to cope with the demand for mobile broadband.

The unveiling last week of Apple’s new iCloud service, along with other recent launches of cloud services from Amazon and Google, reflects the growing trend to store media and other content on-line and make it available to users across all of their connected devices.

However, Cloud-based services will put more strain on already struggling wireless networks, says Cambridge Wireless, the leading independent wireless business and technology community. Combined with the rapid growth in smartphones, tablets and other data-rich connected devices, the new generation of cloud services will accelerate demand for mobile broadband and drive the need for changes in the wireless industry.

The impact of iCloud and other emergent cloud services such as Amazon’s Cloud Player and Music Beta from Google, which allow users to store and access apps, pictures, video and music without connecting to a PC, will be one of the major challenges addressed by operators, content providers and device manufacturers.

While key industry players plan to mitigate the problem by ensuring that the most data-intensive activities are done over Wi-Fi instead of a carrier’s wireless network, people will still want to access and download their video, music, photos and apps wherever they are,” said Peter Whale, a board member of Cambridge Wireless and director of Product Management for Qualcomm.

“It is clear that there needs to be a step change in how the industry responds to significant growth in data usage, but there is no silver bullet – the solution will be a combination of approaches including the roll-out of new technologies such as multicarrier HSPA+, LTE and Femtocells; new spectrum allocation, off-load onto Wi-Fi; along with the more efficient design of mobile apps and scheduling bulk data downloads during off-peak periods.”

The Future of Wireless International Conference this year is very timely and puts the spotlight on one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the wireless industry. Everyone in the wireless value chain has a part to play in shaping the new mobile ecosystem that will overcome the increasing stress being placed on our wireless networks while delivering an enhanced experience at a cost that users are prepared to pay.

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David Cleevely is an entrepreneur who has founded a series of companies and acted as government advisor. He is Chairman of CRFS and ionscope and was founder and former Chairman of Analysys (acquired by Datatec in 2004), co-founder and former Chairman of both Abcam and 3Way Networks (sold to Airvana in 2007). He was a prime mover behind Cambridge Network, co-founder of Cambridge Wireless, co-founded Cambridge Angels and is a member of the IET Telecoms Sector Panel. He was a member of OSAB and recently held an Industrial Fellowship at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. He is also Founding Director of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge.