Demand for wireless data is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108 percent over the next four years, hitting 40 Exabytes a year by 2014, according to a new report from Cisco.
The increasing usage of wireless devices to access the Web, and particularly to watch video, is expected to drive the meteoric growth. To meet the demands of wireless networks, both Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and rival Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) today unveiled separate initiatives to meet the coming wireless Exabyte traffic flood.
In Cisco’s case the new solutions are built on technology obtained through the $2.9 billion acquisition of Starent. For Juniper, the new wireless solutions come from its Project Falcon effort with the help of partners.
“It’s about enabling more capabilities for the mobile operator. We know that the amount of mobile data is growing exponentially,” Juniper Vice President Wendy Cartee told InternetNews.com. “What’s happening is that on the mobile broadband network there is so much data that is traversing that network that mobile operators really need to look at how to deliver better experience to their end users.”
Cartee noted that mobile network providers cater to both smartphone users like the iPhone, as well as netbook users running 3G wireless broadband. To that end Juniper is rolling out new mobile technologies to help operators meet the increasing wireless demands. AT&T, the exclusive network for the iPhone in the U.S., is one of Juniper’s largest customers, representing more than 10 percent of Juniper’s total 2009 revenues.
Juniper Traffic Direct is a new software-enabled feature for Juniper’s MX-3D series routers that were first announced in October.
“What Traffic Direct does is it takes mobile data traffic and combines it with intelligent subscriber and application policies to offload the bulk traffic directly to the Internet,” Cartee said. “What that does is it essentially bypasses expensive mobile infrastructure in the network and allows Internet traffic to be forwarded to where it needs to go more efficiently.”
Cartee added that the traffic offload is all done on the MX 3D series routers. With Traffic Direct the routers have the capability to look at the types of traffic to make intelligent decisions about packet forwarding. The Juniper solution does not focus on any specific radio technology, and Cartee noted that Juniper is radio agnostic.
“We look at the IP packets and it doesn’t matter how it’s delivered over the radio infrastructure,” she said.
Juniper is also rolling out a new mobile technology it’s calling Juniper Media Flow, which aims to optimize the mobile network for video delivery.
“What it does is it allows mobile users to really be able to receive a TV-like viewing experience,” Cartee said.
Cisco’s wireless plans
Juniper’s larger rival Cisco also sees the opportunity for new hardware and software to help mobile operators meet growing data demands. Cisco today announced the new ASR 5000 router, based on technology from its acquisition of Starent Networks, a deal that only closed in December 2009.
“The Cisco ASR 5000 is based on Starent’s existing ST40 platform available today,” Jon Morgan, Cisco’s senior marketing manager of service provider mobility solutions, told InternetNews.com.
As is the case with Juniper’s MX 3D solutions, the Cisco ASR 5000 is also radio agnostic and will work with radios from multiple vendors.
The ASR 5000 joins Cisco’s ASR 9000 and 1000 offerings, which were developed prior to the Starent acquisition. The ASR 1000 launched in 2008 after Cisco invested $250 million into the platform. The ASR 9000 has been optimized for video delivery with up to 6.4 Terabits per second of total service capacity.
“The ASR series offers several solutions that play key roles in the operators’ end-to-end mobile multimedia IP network,” Morgan said. “The Starent solution will hold a specific position in the ASR family with the ASR 5000 designation. The ASR 5000 is designed for the specific requirements of the mobile operators’ multimedia services and delivery requirements in packet core and call control.”
In addition to the new hardware platform, Cisco is also launching what it’s calling the Mobility Unified Reporting System.
“The Mobility Unified Reporting System is Starent-based technology,” Morgan said. “This will expand the reporting capabilities to include the mobile packet core.”