In an article recently published by the Wall Street Journal, it was revealed that Vodafone and Imperial College in London are working on a new initiative to improve data quality and allow for “bigger and faster traffic” for consumers. By placing small data centers near mobile cell towers – effectively reducing the distance between cell towers and data centers – researchers are looking to see if the UK-based telecom giant can boost “data services to data-hungry consumers.”

Although Vodafone declined to comment on the current stage of testing*, Alexander Wolf, a professor at Imperial’s department of computing, spoke about the potential uses for the technology. One such example Wolf mentioned was to do with a big sporting event or concert:

“If the carrier has an access point near the stadium, then they can think about what images, video and other content they can place there. There will be good response for the tens of thousands of people taking photos and videos and sharing them on social networks, as well as uploading, downloading, and watching videos,” said Mr. Wolf.

“From a technical and hardware point of view, the technology is quite mature. The software to manage it is a bit less mature, so that’s maybe more in the realm of a few years…The consumer is ready for it, but not necessarily the operators.”

With data consumption expected to increase exponentially over the next few years – with experts suggesting a 4300% increase in annual data consumption by 2020 – mobile operators are looking for new, innovative solutions to deal with the explosion of data. By narrowing the gap between the base station, or mobile tower, and the data center carriers could take advantage of “reduced latency, or time lag.”

*Vodafone also declined to comment on whether they are working with Imperial College.

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(Image credit: Aidan)

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