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Friday, October 09, 2009

I was shocked, shocked, to hear about mobile broadband capacity

For years - and I was speaking on content regulation at UMTS 2001 just after 9/11 - operators have been banging on about how mobile data (not SMS, much confusion in revenues caused by mixing the two) will transform networks and revenues. Now, as voice revenues appear to have peaked, and at least in the US, operators are rolling out real 3G, they sound surprised that users are maxing out their base stations.
Paul Jacobs, a very nice man who set up and runs Qualcomm, has been at CTIA and explained the need for much thicker arrays of base stations. That's not exactly news to anyone. What is news is that the FCC is taking mobiles to task for not anticipating that users would want an Internet experience instead of, you know, walled gardens and ringtones and high added-value stuff.
So what we need is, yes, more spectrum, but also readily deployable broadband solutions - which means WiMax and WiFi (see Charlie Dunstone's comments below) today, not jam (in the shape of LTE) tomorrow. Its a no-brainer that the industry will drag its feet and regulators will hum and haw about market-oriented tech-neutral spectrum auctions for the next 5-10 years.
Mobile broadband and net neutrality - I predict the longest-running show in town.

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