Telecoms operators spend a lot of time worrying about the cost implications of rolling out networks with enough capacity to cope with increasing demand. But one industry expert believes they could squeeze a lot more capacity out of their existing assets.

A large percentage of spectrum capacity is wasted, said Neil Davies, founder and chief scientist at packet network consultancy Predictable Network Solutions at CommunicAsia on Thursday. Operators have a lot to gain by "optimising what they've currently got."

Operators are not exploiting the statistical multiplexing power that they already have, he explained. This gives operators the power to allocate bandwidth in a more dynamic way on packet-switched networks and thereby make more efficient use of the network. Operators should be using this power for innovative services; they should focus on delivering outcomes that are fit for purpose for the end user, rather than concentrating on the speeds they can provide.

Operators understand TDM (time-division multiplexing) and the voice world, but they don't understand statistical multiplexing, Davies said.

"[They are making] schoolboy errors…at high levels," he said. That then leads to a cycle of throwing capacity at the network.

The industry has almost gone "backwards" from TDM, agreed John Naylon, CTO of backhaul provider Cambridge Broadband Networks.

"Operators don't understand what statistical multiplexing means. Regulators don't understand what statistical multiplexing means. And 'politicians' and 'understand' in the same sentence..!?" Davies continued.

"We're making nice money out of this," he joked. Operators think they have "magic pixie dust" that means they can squeeze the asset indefinitely because its multiplexed. They are now hitting their limit though, he warned.