Study predicts peak hour smartphone use will increase 50% and over-the-top video will triple mobile bandwidth requirements in the next three years

Peak period mobile bandwidth consumption per user is expected to increase fivefold over the next three years according to a recent “Mobile Broadband Bandwidth Demand” study, conducted by ACG Research and sponsored by Ciena® (NYSE: CIEN). Service provider backhaul networks are plagued with growing bottlenecks due to increasing device penetration and an abundance of new entertainment services and applications, like video streaming, social networking and multi-player gaming.  The study looks at peak period mobile bandwidth requirements (bits per second), rather than total data usage (bytes per month), in order to provide the bandwidth projections that are needed to help service providers plan network capacity.

By forecasting users’ expected bandwidth demand in comparison to service providers’ current backhaul capacity, the study predicts that the typical macro cell capacity requirements will rise from 260 Mbps today to 1.5 Gbps within five years. This equates to 1,000 users streaming a movie or live sport event at 1.5 Mbps on their smartphones simultaneously. To handle this level of growth, networks need to have sufficient backhaul capacity, such as what is possible with Ciena’s purpose-built platforms, to accommodate the plethora of new devices, data and applications, as well as varying – and often unpredictable - traffic patterns. An optimized, agile mobile backhaul solution supporting 10 Gbps to the macro cell tower will be essential to alleviate this projected bandwidth and ensure the expected quality of experience.

Key findings:

  • Average bandwidth consumption per mobile user is expected to increase 52 percent CAGR through 2018. Smartphone penetration will rise from 55 percent to 67 percent, and the resulting usage of over-the-top (OTT) entertainment applications on smartphones will account for 59 percent of this; largely due to video - with high-bandwidth requirements, long session times and continuous streaming.
  • Mobile peak usage times, those typically occurring between 9-10 pm, will increase by 71 percent, from seven minutes today to 12 minutes in 2018.  Consumption will also be boosted by new initiatives as OTT providers sponsor data packages (such as those for streaming music). In addition, new 3G and 4G enabled tablets will contribute to the surge in traffic growth, increasing by 20 percent.
  • The study indicates that supporting backhaul capacity requirements will exceed 1 Gbps by 2018, and this will be further intensified by the latest wireless standards such as LTE-Advanced and the introduction of more small cells, which are expected to deliver faster wireless services with broader coverage to users.  Service providers need to take steps to deploy a mobile backhaul solution that supports 10 Gbps to meet this projected bandwidth and ensure quality of experience.

Executive Comments:

  • “Today’s users no longer      rank mobile services by price alone. Now more than ever, the quality of      experience for the latest OTT applications is paramount and a key driver      of customer loyalty. In three short years, these networks must offer      broader coverage and handle more people using more applications on more      devices at the same time. As a result, the backhaul infrastructure must transform      to enable a more dynamic experience.”
    -         Michael Kennedy, principal analyst, ACG Research

About the study:

  • Ciena commissioned ACG to conduct the      “Mobile Broadband Bandwidth Demand” study      to model engineered macro cell site backhaul capacity and help predict      increased bandwidth requirements and expected growth for specific metro area demands. It predicts mobile users’ bandwidth      (bits per second) during the peak period rather than total mobile data      usage (bytes per month) as peak bandwidth requirements are needed to plan network      capacity.
  • The study uses North American figures to analyze mobile demand trends and shows comparable growth profiles across North America, Europe, and Latin America. Europe is following North America, with a couple of year’s difference, and Latin America is on track but with a larger interval. Asia Pacific has higher current bandwidth requirements than the other regions but lower growth; which suggests a more mature market.

Supporting Resources:

Upcoming Events:

  • Ciena experts will be available at Mobile World Congress 2015, March 2-5, 2015 to further discuss the study.

About Ciena
Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is the network specialist. We collaborate with customers worldwide to unlock the strategic potential of their networks and fundamentally change the way they perform and compete. Ciena leverages its deep expertise in packet and optical networking and distributed software automation to deliver solutions in alignment with its OPn architecture for next-generation networks. We enable a high-scale, programmable infrastructure that can be controlled and adapted by network-level applications, and provide open interfaces to coordinate computing, storage and network resources in a unified, virtualized environment. For updates on Ciena news, follow us on Twitter @Ciena or on LinkedIn Investors are encouraged to review the Investors section of our website at, where we routinely post press releases, SEC filings, recent news, financial results, and other announcements. From time to time we exclusively post material information to this website along with other disclosure channels that we use.

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Forward-looking statements.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements based on current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements are based on information available to the Company as of the date hereof; and Ciena's actual results could differ materially from those stated or implied, due to risks and uncertainties associated with its business, which include the risk factors disclosed in its Report on Form 10-K, which Ciena filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 19, 2014. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding Ciena's expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future and can be identified by forward-looking words such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "should," "will," and "would" or similar words. Ciena assumes no obligation to update the information included in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.