Limiting traffic .. the way to manage the data tsunami?

In the January 2014 edition of IEEE Communication Magazine, in an article entitled “User-in-the-loop: spatial and temporal demand shaping for sustainable wireless networks“,  Rainer Schoenen and Halim Yanikomeroglu, discuss the possibility to use “Demand shaping”, i.e. using traffic dependent charging to stem the mobile data tsunami – at least as a complement to deploying more infrastructure.   Read also their similar paper from PIMRC 2012).  An interesting thought, but in my view quite contrary to the way users behave in the internet world.  The models of the the “User In the Loop” presented here are reflecting a rational behavior and continuous demand and supply curves for bandwidth.  As Petri Mähönen and myself pointed out in our paper “Riding the Data Tsunami in the Cloud: Myths and Challenges in Future Wireless Access” in Communications Magazine last year, one of the prerequisites of the rapid growth of mobile services is the (at least perceived) zero-marginal cost of bandwidth.  IP-access has become the dominant technology for all mobile service. IP-access  is highly transparent and flexible,  but the price for flexibility is the high overhead and data volumes that are not necessarily related to the service experience provided.  This means the user has very limited control over the data volumes consumed.  Traffic based charging will therefore create a very  different type of user behavior (“can I really afford to push this button?”) and the mere concept that you think that you have to pay per MB will “kill the experience” – been there, done that in the early days of 3G. I can certainly think that many mobile operators in the “capacity crunch” are tempted to tinker with this idea, but I think they will only loose traffic to short range indoor systems – which at the end may not be a bad outcome for them.   What do you think ?

 

Jens Zander

About Jens Zander

Professor Jens Zander is professor in Radio Communication Systems at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. He has been among the few in Swedens Ny Teknik magazine's annual list of influential people in ICT that have been given the epithet “Mobile Guru”. He is one of the leading researchers in mobile communication and is the Scientific director of the industry/academia collaboration center Wireless@KTH. His research group focuses on three main areas – the efficient and scalable use of the radio frequency spectrum, economic aspects of mobile systems and application and energy efficiency in future wireless infrastructures.
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