Four bars but it’s not working?

July 19th, 2018

Toronto/Calgary/Montreal, checking out a video on Facebook, your toddler’s latest escapades. Your iPhone shows 4 bars, a great signal, but the video won’t play. The little circle spins round and round and round on your screen.

Why, you ask in exasperation? It’s because while the major carriers have mostly achieved network coverage, the big issue now is capacity. The network usage is growing at an exponential rate and carriers are struggling to keep up.

What do we mean by capacity? An easy to understand example is a highway with 4 lanes. The highway might travel all your destinations but if all of those lanes are congested, you will only get there as fast as the traffic volume allows. That’s the way cellular networks work. The cell that is providing your 4 bars of signal strength has a maximum bandwidth capacity and it’s been reached.

Now you look up from your cell phone in frustration only to realise you are not alone on your phone. People no longer read printed media like they used to and you are surrounded by people looking at their cell phones instead of newspapers or books.

It’s all about Capacity now, not coverage

As recent studies indicate, the smart phone is overtaking the PC and video streaming over mobile phones is growing quickly.

IT Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2013, ‘mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide.’ http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1278413

In June of 2011 Allot Communications published its semi-annual MobileTrends Report, showing ‘that mobile data bandwidth usage continued its steady rise with 77% growth during the first half (H1) of 2011 .. video streaming continued to show significant growth with a 93% increase, and remains the single largest application taking up bandwidth, accounting for 39% of mobile bandwidth .. YouTube remains the single most popular mobile Internet destination, accounting for 22% of mobile data bandwidth usage and 52% of total video streaming

Build it and they will use it

How are carriers going to expand their network capacity, given the fact that they seem to have already put their equipment on every available rooftop and tower?

The next big thing in cellular isn’t the 700 MHz band, it’s something called Distributed Antenna Systems or DAS for short.

Canadian carriers are now focussing their efforts on increasing capacity because they’ve seen such a high demand for bandwidth. At Alliance we’ve partnered companies such as Korean SOLiD Technologies and Canadian antenna manufacturer, Til-Tek to provide a comprehensive DAS solution.

We’re working with carriers to supply special antenna brackets to support DAS solutions everywhere. We’re seeing a lot of DAS systems deployed simply in the downtown streets. It’s no longer just the large stadiums. Network capacity is under strain everywhere.