The future of the UK’s digital economy could come under threat unless policy makers take action to upgrade telecoms networks.
The increase in the use of mobile communications is putting a strain on wireless and other networks due to the explosive growth in data being generated and accessed by mobile handsets, with telecoms companies struggling to carry the data volumes without having to invest on a prohibitively large scale.
To solve the challenge, the IET is proposing a new concept of user-focused Demand-Attentive Networks (DANs), which anticipate and respond rapidly to the user’s needs as they arise, as a quicker and more affordable option to simply increasing bandwidth across networks.
A DAN is not a specific technology, but an architectural approach to create a network that recognises and responds to the demands users and applications place on it to optimise the allocation of network resources through a series of smart terminal devices.
By efficiently allocating resources a DAN should be able to provide the impression of limitless bandwidth and ensure that users’ perception of network performance is ‘always sufficient’.
Professor Will Stewart, chair of the IET Communications Policy Panel, said: “As the use of smart devices has grown so has our desire to receive instant data and communications.
“However, we are reaching a tipping point and we must act now and put in place radical solutions for the future otherwise the UK is at risk of losing its leading position. If we don’t we are likely to experience huge disruption to the network in the form of slow download speeds and an inability to connect.
“The UK, with its dynamic usage and regulatory environment, has the opportunity to lead this global advance. To do so will require regulators and industry to work together, with government leadership and facilitation.
“Demand-Attentive Networks have the potential for the UK to innovate by building the next generation high performance network infrastructure in an affordable manner that satisfies user demand, whilst keeping the digital economy running.”
The concept of Demand-Attentive Networks was launched at an event at the House of Lords today, hosted by Lord Broers and attended by representatives of the telecommunications industry.