If the 3G technology becomes very popular in the future and the number of the users will increase considerably, the networks may crash.
On 2007, the capacity of the 3G networks could be exceeded if 40 percent of the users will watch a few minutes of video per day.
An independent research group from the United Kingdom, Analysys stated: “Streaming video consumes 10 times the bandwidth over a network that voice traffic consumes, so watching 10 minutes worth of video per day will have a significant impact on the network. Right now, the 3G networks are empty, so it’s not a problem. But if the service proves popular, then it could be a big problem.”
Broadcasting audio and video content through the mobile networks is the next most profitable business for the future. Many companies launch these type of services and many users become clients. In the U.S., mobile operators like Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Cingular or other companies like Warner Music Group or MTV are announcing all kinds of offers and services.
“We’re very encouraged by the market,” said Dale Knoop, general manager of multimedia for Sprint. “We definitely think there’s a lot of demand to have things that entertain and inform you on the go.”
Everything looks promising only if a big problem won’t occur. The traffic will be to high to be supported by the existing networks. A similar situation already happened in South Korea where, in a few months, SK Telecom had to built a separate satellite network to broadcast its mobile TV service because the existing network became congested with video traffic.
3G networks can’t support high volumes of traffic because is divided into cells. If 500 people in the same cell decide to watch the same video clip, the network has to transmit a copy of that video clip over the network to each user. This quantity of data may block the traffic.
“The carriers are going to have to move the traffic off the cell network eventually,” said Albert Lin, an analyst at American Technology Research. “It just doesn’t have the kind of capacity that video demands.”
3GPP/3GPP2 is a group that is working on modifying 3G. They developed MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Standard) which will be available for W-CDMA and CDMA-2000 networks in 2007.
MBMS requires operators to set aside capacity that could otherwise be used to sell lucrative point-to-point voice or data services. Also, because of the capacity limitations, services would likely offer only a limited number of channels.
In Berlin, Helsinki, Oxford another technology is being tested: DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting â€“ Handhelds). DMB, or Digital Mobile Broadcast, is a standard developed in South Korea, and MediaFlo is developed by Qualcomm.
Any modification will make the operators to upgrade their equipments and the users to buy new terminals.