In this overview article in the March 2013 edition of IEEE Communications Magazine, Jens Zander (Wireless@KTH) and Petri Mähönen (RWTH Aachen University) note that data rates of mobile communications have increased dramatically during the last decade. The industry predicts an exponential increase of data traffic that would correspond to a 1000-fold increase in traffic between 2010 and 2020. These figures are very similar to ones reported during the last Internet boom. In this article, the realism of these assumptions are assessed. The authors conjecture that wireless and mobile Internet access will emerge as a dominant technology. A necessary prerequisite for this development is that wireless access is abundant and becomes (almost) free. A consequence is that the projected capacity increase must be provided at the same cost and energy consumption as today. In the paper, the authors explore technical and architectural solutions that have realistic possibility to achieve these targets. The question is posed if Moore’s law, which has successfully predicted the tremendous advances in computing and signal processing, will also save the day for highspeed wireless access. The authors argue that further improvements of the PHY layer are possible, but it is unlikely that this alone provides a viable path. The exponential traffic increase has to be matched mainly by increasing the density of the access networks as well as providing a modest amount of extra spectrum. Thus, the future research challenges are in designing energy- and cost-efficient short-range architectures and systems that support super-dense deployments. A non-technical complication is that such infrastructures are likely to lead to highly fragmented markets with a large number of operators and infrastructure owners.
Readers are referred to: J. Zander, P. Mähönen, “Riding the Data Tsunami in the Cloud – Myths and Challenges in Future Wireless Access“, IEEE Communications Magazine, Vol 51, Issue: 3 (March 2013), pages 145-151