SDN Blog

‘Wireless’ communications put burden on wired networks

Posted on Monday, March 31, 2014 in Broadband Internet

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Wireless phone calls aren’t really 100 percent wireless.

Calls made on cellular phones might travel the first and last legs of their journey on radio frequencies, but wireless calls depend heavily on the wired infrastructure of companies such as SDN Communications.

I’ve tried in the past to explain – perhaps in an overly simplistic way - how wireless calls get from the caller to the person being called. A review might be in order:

Typically, a call made on a wireless device travels the airwaves to the nearest tower or wireless access point. From there, the call continues on fiber or copper to the service provider’s switching office. The call stays on a wired, underground pathway until it reaches its destination or close to it. The final leg of a call might go through the airwaves, too.

I bring the up the process again because of the incredible growth in data volume that mobile technologies are producing. That puts pressure on broadband service providers such as SDN, not just businesses concerned about how the federal government manages the availability and use of airwaves.

The Wireless Broadband Association expects 22 percent of data capacity added in 2013-2014 to come from Wi-Fi offloads. Cellular networks are expected to contribute a similar increase. By 2018, Wi-Fi and cellular networks are expected to account for 41 percent of all data traffic, according to the association.

Meanwhile, the number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the world is expected to more than double from 2012 to 2018 to more than 10.5 million.

SDN constantly improves networkMobile Devices Statistics

Collectively, mobile Internet traffic is increasing at a rate that is difficult to comprehend.

Cisco Systems reports that, globally, mobile traffic increased from less than 1 petabyte per month in 2005 to 885 petabytes in 2012.

Data volume is hard to visualize. But, for the record, a petabyte is a measurement of digital information equal to 1,000 terabytes. A terabyte equals a trillion bytes. A byte is approximately the number of bits (eight) that it takes to encode one character of text.

Increasingly, people are using wireless devices such as smartphones and tablet computers to move text and data as well as for voice communication, says Dennis Cromwell, sales manager for commercial markets at SDN in Sioux Falls.

“Because of the proliferation of smartphones, many people are making that their primary communications device. That’s driving traffic to broadband networks,” Cromwell says.

“A lot of the growth in our network comes from that traffic. We provide a lot of fiber optic connections out to those cell towers. In the foreseeable future, we see nothing but growth there,” he says.

The good news is that SDN, for one, is continually expanding and upgrading its network, which helps accommodate wireless backhaul.

SDN’s vast network crisscrosses South Dakota and reaches into several other states to connect with similar networks. Access to the network in Sioux Falls, for example, is extensive and increases as new clients come onboard.

“I think our engineering and networking operations have done a good job of keeping ahead of capacity demands,” Cromwell says.

SDN primarily serves other businesses, which, in turn, serve consumers.

At the core of many of SDN’s products and services is a network of more than 30,000 miles of fiber optic line that helps the region’s leading businesses, organizations and institutions communicate. SDN’s 17 member companies – independent phone companies from around the state - provide thousands of additional miles to the network.

Business clients rightfully expect SDN to keep its network operating at a high level. The company obliges by constantly upgrading its infrastructure to keep pace with advances in technology and clients’ growing demand for services.

SDN prepares for growth every day. To learn more about the company and its services, visit the SDN Communications website