Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
ITU forecasts 'from another planet'signal strength
Wednesday 9 July, 2014, 08:57 - Spectrum Management
Posted by Administrator
According to an article in DigitalSpy (and several other sources) UK mobile operator EE have announced that during the recent Glastonbury Festival, 0.74 TeraBytes (TB) of data was uploaded and 2.49 TB of data was downloaded (a total of 3.23 TB). EE built a special network at the site as part of its role as the sponsor. However it would be reasonable to assume that the other 3 mobile operators in the UK also carried traffic and despite them not having bespoke networks, designed to cover the event, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they carried as much traffic as EE. Thus, the total traffic from the event would be 12.9 TB.

It is interesting to compare this level of traffic with that which is predicted by the ITU spectrum demand forecast model that Wireless Waffle has discussed several times in the past. First some facts and figures about the festival:
  • The 2014 Glastonbury festival ran from 25 - 29 June inclusive - 5 days in total.
  • The area of the site is approximately 900 acres, which is 3.6 square km.
  • Around 135,000 people attended the festival.
glastonbury 2014We can therefore calculate some traffic figures and compare these to the ITU's forecasts. First of all, the easy one: 135,000 people in an area of 3.6 square kilometres equates to 37,500 people per square kilometre. The ITU's model shows up to 222,333 people per square kilometre in the densest (albeit urban) areas, but it would be hard to imagine an area more densely populated than that surrounding the festival, even in Central London.

There was 12.9 TeraBytes of data traffic over the 5 day event, the equivalent of 78 TeraBytes per month if the same level of traffic was to continue over a whole month. This equates to 21.7 TB per month per square kilometre. For a densely populated (urban) area, the ITU's forecasts show 30 to 100 PetaBytes per month per square kilometre, 1,400 to 4,700 times more than was consumed by revellers at Glastonbury.

Finally, if 78 TB of data was generated by 135 000 people, this equates to 578 MegaBytes per person per month. Compare this with the 212 GigaBytes per person per month preducted by the ITU, and we find a that the ITU's values are 366 times larger.

itu live on another planetSo the ITU's traffic forecasts for 2020 show traffic density over 1,500 times greater than that which was generated at Glastonbury, with individual (per person) traffic that is 366 times larger. Even given the likely growth in data between 2014 and 2020 (which the ITU's highest forecasts indicate a growth of a factor of 14 times), the ITU's figures remain far in excess of any reality - at least any reality that exists on planet Earth. Just what the value of a set of forecasts that might be valid on Kepler 22b is, is anyone's guess. Perhaps that's where the ITU spends its summer vacation?
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