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GSMA asks global policymakers’ to get ready for huge data traffic in cities

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The GSMA has asked policymakers across the world to come up with supportive policies that can take care of rising data demand via the mobile phone to avoid mobile network “traffic gridlock” in major cities.

The new report averred that mobile networks may run into capacity issues to meet the exploding demand for mobile data in the world’s largest and densest cities.

Otherwise, the current level of infrastructure in some megacities cannot handle data demand without supportive policies for affordable and timely deployment of next-generation mobile networks.

The GSMA/Boston Consulting Group report, titled; ‘Delivering the Digital Revolution: Will Mobile Infrastructure Keep Up with Rising Demand?’, observed that several networks in so-called “megacities” such as Lagos, New York, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tokyo will face a significant gaps between mobile data traffic demand and available network capacity.

The report further noted that as much as 48 per cent of traffic demand going unserved in ultra-dense urban areas by 2025.

Key discovery from the report suggests that telecoms regulatory bodies need to review their oversight functions in line with the expected surge in mobile data demand to meet up the projected supply-demand gap and unlocking the economic potential of next-generation mobile broadband.

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at GSMA noted that “The current global regulatory landscape has been successful in creating a competitive market that has made mobile connectivity accessible to more than five billion people around the world”.

“However, unless government policies encourage investment, the network capacity required to satisfy future demand is unlikely to be achieved.

“This will result in a bad deal for consumers and businesses, particularly those in our most populous cities, and is likely to have a direct impact on these economies. Measures such as making affordable spectrum available and relaxing planning restrictions on small cells can help foster an environment that enables operators to build mobile networks ready for the future.”

GSMA added that “Factors such as 5G and the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will cause mobile data demand to grow by more than 50 per cent in major cities across the world by 2025. Consequently, mobile operators’ capital and operational expenditures in cities would need to triple to provide sufficient network capacity – a level of expenditure that is simply not sustainable under current conditions.

“Bespoke policy approaches are required to serve the needs of all stakeholders: citizens, governments and network operators. In the report, the GSMA makes six key recommendations for policymakers to promote infrastructure investment:

GSMA further listed key reforms that can help regulatory agencies to avoid the shocks of future data demand in mega and emerging megalopolis to include release additional affordable spectrum; facilitate deployment of fronthaul and backhaul infrastructure: Successful deployment of new macro and small cells to boost network capacity requires access to backhaul networks; provide more access to advantageous macro-cell and small-cell sites; allow network sharing agreements: Permitting operators the flexibility to enter into commercial agreements on network sharing would substantially reduce capital and operating costs for operators; and enable small-cell deployment.

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