As I work my way through the videos out of 4G World, I’m finding some remarkable nuggets of information. In a Power Breakfast co-presented by Motorolans Tom Gruba and Paul Steinberg, the discussion centered on how things have changed, and are continuing to change, as wireless networks go from being primarily voice carriers to primarily data carriers.
On the consumer behavior side, there’s a shift occurring in both who is using network bandwidth and when they’re using it. According to Steinberg, roughly ten percent of users drive around eighty to ninety percent of wireless network traffic. Prime time usage has also shifted from rush hour drive times, when people pull out their phones to talk, to later in the evening, lasting until around 2 AM. Is this people using their mobile phones for broadband at home? It certainly mirrors fixed broadband usage.
On the network side, the migration from 3G to 4G involves an entire architecture shift as carriers focus on support for data traffic. In a 3G network, the packet core is, for all intents and purposes, glued on to the side of the circuit core designed for voice. A 4G network, however, doesn’t carry circuit data separately. Everything runs over IP.
Many folks over in the Twitterverse are complaining that the FCC doesn’t have a full understanding of wired and wireless networks. For wireless, perhaps a quick look at some of the 4G World coverage (check out Sidecut Reports) would provide a good starting point.