May 12, 2020

Are Mobile Network Operators Ready for the Next Traffic Surge?

Cell Backhaul

As COVID-19 forces people to live, work, learn, and socialize from home, the world has seen a sustained spike in Wi-Fi, terrestrial and mobile activity. However, COVID-19 has simply provided a preview of what mobile network operators (MNOs) will face given projected growth and the full implementation of 5G in the near future.

Consider the following projections from the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. By 2025, Ericsson predicts:

  • Mobile subscriptions will outnumber people, with 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions globally
  • 4G/LTE networks will gain near global coverage, with more than 90% of the world’s population having access to 4G/LTE coverage
  • Developing nations will come online in significant numbers, with growth projected across every region of the developing world

To take advantage of this upcoming exponential growth, mobile network operators need to expand and diversify their service playbook to meet and capture future customer and business demands. Satellite connectivity’s inherent capabilities, strengthened by recent innovations, can help mobile operators address key network challenges and bridge growth gaps. With satellite, mobile network operators can address the following growth priorities:

  • Connect the unconnected: As new populations come online in massive numbers, they will expect the same connectivity as the rest of the world. Mobile operators will need to supply remote and ultra-rural coverage that can handle not only traditional voice but new data-heavy applications as well.
  • Provide reliability for emergency response: When emergency situations occur, such as a pandemic, mobile network operators will need satellite to enhance and complement terrestrial connectivity so first response teams can reliably coordinate their efforts.
  • Manage peak traffic: In urban areas, mobile network operators will need to find a way to deal with the congestion that results when crowds swarm and jam a network to preserve network availability.
  • Distribute video efficiently: MNOs will be called upon to power over-the-top (OTT) content distribution.
  • Converge networks further: MNOs will need hybrid networks that can seamlessly switch between terrestrial, cellular/LTE, and VSAT.

Backhaul was already considered a growing market; one that Northern Sky Research (NSR) believes is still in its infancy, and projects sites to grow by 60% in 2027. However, COVID-19 has highlighted the business cases for satellite backhaul now more than ever. Mobile network operators that proactively invest in solutions today will be well positioned to expand into new, emerging markets in the near future.

To learn more about the future opportunity for mobile network operators and how you can work with them to power a more connected world, visit