Solving the Smartphone Bandwidth Issue

Michael Vizard

One of the things that carriers would have you believe is that smartphones are generating so much traffic that the performance of their networks are starting to degrade. At the same time, they will also concede that only a small percentage of the smartphone users out there are really accessing bandwidth-intensive applications.

Once more, the one thing they won't tell you is how dumb their networks really are. If carriers spent some quality time trying to make their networks smarter, bandwidth could be allocated to meet the specific requirements of any user at any given time.

This latter capability is exactly what Compuware is working on in conjunction with some of its carrier customers -- alas, not any of the ones in the U.S. Compuware has taken its application management software and applied it to the problem of smartphones in the form of Compuware Vantage for Mobile. By deploying probes out on the Internet and inside the network operations center (NOC), the Compuware software is able to analyze data in real time using deep packet inspection techniques to figure out what kind of data a specific end user is consuming, said Richard Stone, solution marketing manager for Compuware Mobile. Once the carrier knows that, they should be able to dynamically allocate additional bandwidth to that specific user.

The problem with carriers in general in this country is the hypocritical nature of their offerings. On the one hand they want everybody to buy a next-generation smartphone that comes with a multi-year contract. But in the same breath, they appear to be reluctant to make investments in better software and faster switches and routers to deliver on the service they promised customers. AT&T yesterday as much as conceded the problem by finally acknowledging that it needs to spend an additional $2 billion on capital investments, but it didn't say how an $18 to $19 billion capital budget would be spent or what efforts are being made to make its existing network more efficient. Some analysts even speculate that AT&T needs to spend an additional $5 billion on its networks.

AT&T disputes that estimate. But the next time you hear about some carrier executive bemoaning the state of their networks, recognize it for what it really is: an attempt to blame the state of technology to either justify a price increase or forestall some government regulatory action driven by rising customer complaints.

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