It seems that everyone wants a smartphone these days.
But it’s not only about having that shiny, new device in your pocket. What handset buyers really want is the “smartphone experience:” watching HD video, enjoying stunning graphics that make you forget you’re looking at a phone, exploring thousands of apps at an instant, and sharing content with friends, family or other devices at home.
Smartphone Growth in Emerging Markets
For many people around the world, the smartphone will be the first (and often the only) computing device they’ll own, supplanting personal computers and even televisions as a primary source of information and digital entertainment. By 2015, it’s projected that almost 90 percent of data traveling over worldwide networks will be video, with much of that data consumed via smartphones, laptops, tablets and other portable electronics, according to Cisco Systems Inc.’s February report, the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016.
Mobile Traffic Explosion
With huge growth in video consumption on the horizon, mobile traffic is expected to outpace the capacity of cellular networks in fairly short order. As a result, we will see cellular operators looking for ways to offload that flood of data traffic onto alternative networks, with Wi-Fi being the most obvious — and widespread — one. Cisco predicts that by 2016, more than 3.1 exabytes of mobile traffic will be offloaded every month, making high-speed Wi-Fi increasingly essential in smartphone designs.
What’s an exabyte, you ask? An exabyte equals 1 quintillion bytes. That means mobile data traffic that’s the equivalent of 33 billion DVDs, 4.3 quadrillion digital music files or 813 quadrillion SMS messages, according to a report on eweek.com.
With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that these powerful trends are driving major shifts in the mobile industry, with key technology implications. First of all, we’re going to see a continued and accelerated upgrade to wireless networks, including both the cellular and Wi-Fi connections people use every day.
How Broadcom Helps
Broadcom’s Infrastructure and Networking Group recently introduced products aimed to meet both of these challenges, with a new line of switch solutions optimized to meet the bandwidth, scalability and efficiency demands of “small cell” base stations to better accommodate more cellular users.
On the Wi-Fi side, we’ve introduced a new generation of faster Wi-Fi, called 5G WiFi, based on the new 802.11ac standard. Routers and access points based on this technology will provide up to gigabit wireless speeds, both in the home and at work.
Broadcom’s also helping meet the need for increasingly affordable smartphones that continue to deliver the “smartphone experience” that has captivated users.
Handset makers know that simply manufacturing a cheaper, stripped-down smartphone won’t cut it. Devices that are slow, lack features or have flawed user experiences will go nowhere fast. In response, Broadcom recently announced a line of smartphone platforms optimized for the much-anticipated Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system, which is set to enable this next generation of handsets that fully deliver on the promise of the transformative experience that the market expects smartphones to provide.
Finally, to ensure these new, more affordable smartphones and tablets can enjoy the full benefits of high-speed Wi-Fi, we’ve introduced a line of dual-band combo chips that provide Wi-Fi with higher speed and better range. Both of these new chips also include Bluetooth 4.0 and FM radio, to add even more value to new smartphone designs by helping handset makers reduce power and manufacturing costs.
At Broadcom, we’ve been preparing for years to see a massive shift in how we communicate and consume information, with video and applications becoming an even more common part of our global conversation. And, most of it will manifest in the sleek little computer that tens of millions of people around the world will hold in the palms of their hands.
Editor’s Note: Executive Perspective is a recurring feature for Broadcom executives to chime in about industry and technology trends. The posting, also available as a PDF file, is showcased on Broadcom’s homepage and promoted through Broadcom’s social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. This post was penned by Robert A. Rango, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s Mobile and Wireless Group.