Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wireless: Running Out of Bandwidth

Lowell McAdam at the NY Times argues that Wireless Spectrum Should Be Reallocated:

At a time of slow economic growth and declining competitiveness, wireless technology remains a shining example of innovation. In the last 10 years, wireless communications companies in the United States have invested hundreds of billions of dollars and unleashed a torrent of new products.

Demand for faster speeds and more applications is growing at a tremendous rate. But without prompt government action, the lifeblood of this innovative sector of the economy is at risk of being choked off.

At issue is the allocation of wireless spectrum, the crucial “real estate” upon which wireless networks are built. A number of wireless companies — large and small, urban and rural — as well as companies like TV networks, cable companies and the government hold spectrum licenses, and have enough spectrum to meet today’s consumer demand. But many other companies depend on spectrum, too: mobile device manufacturers, software and application designers and content creators — all of which make products and services that require fast wireless networks that can connect them to consumers.

The Yankee Group, a research firm, estimates that by 2015 consumer use of wireless applications and services will be almost 60 times today’s volume. And a recent analysis found that the nation’s biggest wireless carriers controlled only about half of the spectrum available for wireless services. [emphasis added - MQ]

Even with technological advances, a severe spectrum crunch looms over the next decade. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has rightly pointed out that substantial amounts of new spectrum are needed to drive the continued growth of the wireless industry.

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