Amid much fanfare, Apple launched the iPhone 5 and to unprecedented demand in Asia. Operators in Singapore and Hong Kong such as CSL, 3 HK, SingTel and M1 have all unveiled higher capacity data plans expecting intensified data demand due to its new enterprise-focused 4G LTE connectivity option. CSL, expecting the iPhone 5 to provide a strong impetus for LTE take-up and data consumption, has made its data caps much more generous with the iPhone 5.
In offering ultra-high-speed mobile connectivity, the iPhone 5 has all the capabilities required to allow users to not only surf the Web more efficiently, but at a faster speed, something that in the enterprise environment should have a direct and positive impact on mobile work efficiency.
Over the years, Apple has developed applications that are designed to appeal to the enterprise user. To successfully integrate this device into the enterprise environment and fend off stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and HTC, this launch aims to set this device apart from its predecessors. Current applications such as Roambi, Quick Office and OmniFocus are already proving popular in the enterprise market, not only tapping into the great mobile experience, but most importantly, keeping employees productive throughout the day.
However, the success of such applications is reliant on the overall user experience - and this is where network connectivity comes in. Industry watchers are waiting to see how the iPhone 5 (and other upcoming LTE devices) drives data consumption, and how LTE networks will cope with any jump in usage, and finally how that translates into a hit or a boon to the operator bottom-line. This is especially crucial in a market such as Hong Kong, where data rates are much lower than in other parts of the world.
There is also a widespread expectation that as the bandwidth-intensive features of the iPhone 5 start to kick in, operators will have to start thinking about costly network upgrades. However, before pursuing this costly course, operators need to optimise their backhaul networks to handle high-bandwidth services. The backhaul portion of the network connects base stations to the core network and has a great impact on the quality of service consumers get.
Carrier Ethernet offers operators a sound solution to this challenge, combining a cost-effective and scalable architecture that allows carriers to control costs while supporting the next-generation of mobile applications.
Putting in place sufficient capacity and resiliency in the backhaul will help operators cope with the demand for additional bandwidth generated by increasingly powerful smart devices such as the iPhone 5. An Arieso report released earlier this year provides a clear illustration of the volumes of data likely to be consumed; suggesting that the iPhone 4S consumed twice the amount of data as users of the iPhone 4, a trend that is only likely to continue as Asian markets develop their infrastructure to enable 4G connectivity, in keeping with the new devices offering.
Anthony McLachlan is vice president and general manager, Asia Pacific, Ciena Corporation.
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