Mobile 101 – Part 3: Capacity

In the last piece, we went over Coverage, or making sure you can get a strong connection virtually everywhere you go.
Now that we understand this…how do we send and receive data at fast enough speeds, using this connection, to acommplish everything we want to do on our smartphones?
To answer that question…we need to talk about capacity.
Capacity refers to the amount of data traffic a radio channel can handle at any given time. More capacity means more data can flow on that channel, which leads to faster connection speeds.

To understand capacity, we need to discuss two key elements:

• Data Rate, and
• Spectrum

The radio signals that travel between the tower and the smart phone carry digital information like voice or video. The speed that an Operator can transmit this information is called data rate.

Chances are, you have heard this term.
But you may not have heard about spectrum, which has an enormous influence on data rate. You can think of spectrum as the road the signal travels down, and it’s the most vital ingredient to mobile communications. Simply put: The more spectrum, the more capacity. And the more capacity, the faster the data rate. Easy, right?
Not so fast… here’s the challenge:
Spectrum is a finite resource. There’s only so much of it to go around, and it must be shared by MANY other groups.

For example, radio, aviation, and government all need to send and receive wireless data too…so part of the available wireless spectrum is reserved just for them.

As it turns out, only a very small percentage of spectrum is set aside for mobile technology, and this fact presents a continuous challenge that Operators must contend with.

Think of a mobile connection or radio signal like a city street, with the bits of information passing on it like commuters going to work. At rush hour, when things get crowded, everything, and everyone, suffers. But because there are sidewalks and buildings on either side, there are limits to how wide we can make that road…no matter how many commuters we have, adding new lanes can be very tricky.

This is the same problem that mobile networks have with spectrum. There are over a million new smartphones added every day, and the data each one sends and receives adds new commuters to this already crowded street.

With only so much spectrum available to service this massive and ever-growing demand, if nothing were done, data rates would screech to a halt, making mobile communications nearly impossible.

And simply put, that’s just not good enough for today’s mobile experiences! As smart phones become more capable, and apps and services deliver richer experiences, we demand the same broadband connection speeds we can get at home, and the need is only increasing.

Amazingly, mobile technologies have evolved to deliver more and more capacity, despite these limited resources.

As we go further in this course, we’ll highlight the Mobile 3G and 4G LTE breakthroughs that allow Operators to vastly improve the use of spectrum. Then, we’ll show you how these improvements deliver incredibly fast mobile broadband connections that take the wait time out of downloads, and the frustration out of web browsing.

So to review: to provide great mobile experiences requires a great mobile connection that delivers

Coverage – (show not tell)
Capacity – (show not tell)

These problems pose a constant challenge that must be overcome, but thanks to all the advances available with Mobile 3G and 4G LTE technologies , we are continuing to ensure that you will have all of the access you need, today and in the future.

Publish Date: May 14, 2018

Length: 3:43