Blog posts tagged with 'Mobile Broadband'
Thursday, July 05
Paul Barbagallo of Bloomberg BNA examines the promise — and challenges — of the government sharing spectrum with wireless providers:
So far, neither the FCC nor the NTIA have begun to address the many questions that are now beginning to emerge: Who will share with whom? If wireless carriers must share spectrum that is licensed to federal government agencies, who retains priority access? What are the rules for the wireless carriers when they are using spectrum licensed to the federal government? And, perhaps most critically, what “type” of sharing ultimately will be promoted?
Currently, there are three sharing models under consideration: Geographic-based sharing, in which a wireless carrier may use a federal agency’s frequencies only in certain geographic areas; “temporal”-based sharing, in which a wireless carrier may use a federal agency’s frequencies only during certain times of the day or year; and technology-based sharing, in which wireless carriers and a federal agency would each use a cognitive, or “smart,” radio device that can search wide swaths of a spectrum band for “quiet,” or unused, frequencies over which to transmit and receive data. As for the latter, another important question looms: What will the new software required for each mobile device mean for the size, weight, battery life, and, ultimately, the cost of the handset?
Barbagallo’s full story is definitely worth checking out.
Last week, Google announced a new 7-inch tablet called the Nexus 7. Now rumors are flying that Apple, which has so far dominated the growing tablet market — which, arguably, is the future of computing — is set to fire back with a smaller tablet of its own. As Peter Burrows and Adam Satariano of Bloomberg report:
A smaller, less expensive iPad could undercut the ambitions of Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) to gain traction in the advancing tablet market, said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. The new device will probably have a price closer to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, both of which have 7-inch screens and cost $199.
“It would be the competitors’ worst nightmare,” Wu said in an interview. “The ball is in Apple’s court.”
Tuesday, July 03
“Mobile Network Design and Deployment: How Incumbent Operators Plan for Technology Upgrades and Related Spectrum Needs” is a paper released last week by engineer Peter Rysavy. In it, he examines the lengthy process wireless providers go through to locate new spectrum and put it to use:
Managing wireless networks is a complex process that must balance infrastructure investment with service revenues, capacity with demand, and that must optimally time the deployment of new technologies. Part of this balancing act is acquiring and deploying radio spectrum. Spectrum can neither be immediately acquired, nor can it be immediately deployed. Instead, operators have to phase it into their networks in conjunction with the right technology at the right time over periods that span many years. The fact that operators may have idle spectrum at specific points in time does not mean that they don’t need it, and it does not mean that they don’t intend to use it.
If you’re looking for a smart — and consumable — breakdown of the importance of spectrum, Rysav’s paper is worth digging in to.
Friday, June 29
Five years ago today, a little device was released that completely revolutionized not just the mobile industry, but the broadband industry as well. Via Zach Epstein of Boy Genius Reports:
The advent of the iPhone era has forced changes in a stagnant smartphone industry that would never have gotten to this point without a serious push. Smartphones are now slim and sleek instead of huge and bulky. Touchscreens are now commonplace, drastically improving the overall user experience across all mobile platforms. Apps are now a booming economy, and are neatly organized in on-device portals instead of being available mainly through poorly-managed websites that made finding the software one needs a daunting task.
Epstein goes on to note that at the time the iPhone was announced, RIM — makers of the Blackberry, then the top dog in the smartphone market — scoffed at the device. Unfortunately for RIM, just yesterday the company announced its first net quarterly loss in eight years. Pretty amazing how fast fortunes change in the technology world.
Monday, June 25
Last week, Microsoft announced Surface, its tablet competitor to Apple’s dominant iPad. This week, another tech giant is looking to make a splash with a device of its own. Via Luke Hopewell of Gizmodo:
As rumoured, Google’s going to announce a 7-inch, Nexus-branded tablet called the Nexus 7. According to the leak, it’s built by Asus, with a 1.3Ghz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, GeForce 12-core GPU and 1GB of RAM with two different storage variants: 8GB and 16GB.
The Nexus tablet will also feature NFC and run Google Wallet (probably only in the US) and Android Beam.
According to Gizmodo, the device will start at just $199.
Thursday, June 14
President Obama’s broadband deployment Executive Order (see below), received praise from CTIA, the nation’s largest wireless industry group, but as John Eggerton of Multichannel News reports, that praise came with a specific message:
“CTIA and the wireless industry are pleased to see the president recognizes that more Americans continue to rely on their mobile devices for anytime and anywhere access, including the Internet,” said CTIA president Steve Largent in a statement. “At the same time, we hope the president and his administration remain focused on getting more spectrum for the U.S. wireless industry so our members may handle the significant data usage of Americans now and in the future.”
With mobile broadband being rapidly adopted by America’s underserved communities, CTIA is right to point out that efforts to close the digital divide should focus both on wired networks and providing the airwaves mobile broadband needs to operate and grow.
Monday, June 11
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson laid out the problems his and other wireless companies face when it comes to the coming spectrum crunch:
The demand for mobile data is now roughly doubling every year. Smartphones use 30 times more data than the cellphones they replaced. Meanwhile, the supply of spectrum supporting mobile devices has remained the same since 2008.
That means we’re in a race against time. The demand for spectrum will exceed supply by 2013, according to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates. If that happens, the speed of the mobile revolution will slow down. Prices, download times and consumer frustration will all increase. And at a societal level we risk jeopardizing the future of our nation’s vital mobile Internet infrastructure, which is generating jobs and investment on a scale well beyond the first Internet boom of the 1990s.
Stephenson went on to call for smart government policies when it comes to spectrum allocation, including requiring those who hold spectrum to actually use it, and creating a national model for deploying wireless infrastructure. He also warned readers what will happen if demand for airwaves continues to outpace supply:
Billions of dollars of investment in spectrum deployment will lead to tens of thousands of jobs. It will also multiply the many innovations and high-tech jobs we see today in the development of mobile Internet applications. But when the industry is unable to obtain and deploy spectrum efficiently, we miss the opportunity to create good jobs—and consumers pay the price.
(AT&T is an IIA member.)
Friday, June 08
Yesterday, Verizon CTO Tony Melone criticized the FCC’s pace when it comes to freeing up much-needed spectrum for wireless. As CNet’s Marquerite Reardon reports:
Melone said the FCC needs to speed up the process for approving spectrum sales and license transfers in the secondary market. He used his company’s own bid to buy wireless spectrum from a consortium of cable companies—collectively known as SpectrumCo—as an example. In December, Verizon promised to pay $3.6 billion for nearly 20 MHz of wireless spectrum in the AWS band.
The FCC and Department of Justice are reviewing the transaction, which also includes a co-marketing deal, which some critics say is anti-competitive. The agencies have been reviewing the deal since December when it was announced and are expected to finish up their inquiry by the end of July.
Melone said that he thinks the process, which is expected to take a little over six months, is too long. And he said it’s a barrier to getting unused wireless spectrum into companies that can put it into use. And he criticized the agency for taking too long to evaluate the transaction.
Given the increasing demand for mobile broadband — and the FCC’s own warnings that we will soon be hitting a “spectrum crunch” — it’s easy to see why Melone and other wireless providers are frustrated with the slow pace of the Commission’s process.
Wednesday, June 06
Over at Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton examines a new survey from Cox and the National Center for Mission and Exploited Children on smartphones and kids:
The Tween Internet Safety Survey study… found that 95% of kids use their phones and game consoles to surf the Web. While 68% of parents said they monitored their kid’s Internet behavior on mobile devices, only 17% said they used parental control features on smartphones.
The full survey results are available on Cox’s website (PDF).
In an important post for The Hill‘s Congress Blog, Axel Leblois, Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict), highlights how critical wireless devices like smartphones and tablets are for people with disabilities — and how it’s just as critical that more spectrum to be made available:
If we want to see further advancements in mobile accessibility technologies, we must continue to promote the development of a healthy mobile ecosystem. Encouraging continued private sector investment in wireless network infrastructure is vital and will require swift and decisive government action. Our government, which allocates the airwaves, must find more for commercial use. Such a move will allow wireless carriers to continue expanding and enhancing our wireless networks, ensuring a wireless infrastructure that will enable accessibility innovation to continue to aid Americans with disabilities. And by acting quickly to remove this barrier to growth, our government can enable faster development of these and other technological innovations.
Leblois’ full post is a must-read.
Tuesday, June 05
Via Kevin Fitchard of GigaOm, a new report from Ericsson predicts a big leap when it comes to mobile broadband access worldwide:
It took 12 years for 3G technologies to touch half of the world’s population, but getting to 85 percent coverage will only take another five, according to wireless infrastructure vendor Ericsson. New HSPA+ and LTE network deployments will lead to a near blanketing of the world’s populated areas with mobile broadband by 2017.
Ericsson’s report is available on their website.
Speaking of spectrum, over at Fierce Wireless Philip Goldstein is encouraged by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s suggestion of sharing some of the government’s airwaves with wireless providers, but cautions it won’t be an easy move:
As with many things that get talked about in Washington though, spectrum sharing—specifically between government entities and commercial carriers—is more conjecture at this point than anything else. It will take years to make such sharing a reality, and the biggest hurdles will not be technical but more basic elements like how much spectrum government agencies—especially the Department of Defense—will be willing to give up. In order to get both sides on the same page to make spectrum sharing a reality, there is going to have to be significant and consistent socialization of both government spectrum administrators and the wireless industry.
In op-ed for Forbes, Bret Swanson of Entropy Economics (he’s also one of our Broadband Ambassadors) worries the “wireless juggernaut,” as he calls it, will soon hit a roadblock:
The U.S… seems sluggish (at best) in encouraging the next wave of growth. The government still owns around 60% of the best spectrum, leaving just around 10% for mobile operators. The U.S. lags many nations in current spectrum availability and lags almost every advanced economy in its “pipeline” of spectrum expected to become available in the near future.
Last winter Congress approved auctions to encourage over-the-air TV broadcasters to transfer underused spectrum to more valuable modern services, such as mobile data networks. But in the best of circumstances, these auctions will take years. And even assuming the auctions are successful, the U.S. pipeline will still lag.
If, on top of these shortcomings, you add an effective government halt to any secondary market spectrum transactions, you have real paralysis.
Swanson’s full op-ed is worth checking out.
Monday, June 04
Over at Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton reports the FCC has released its agenda and participants for its June 25 workshop on spectrum incentive auctions:
Panelists for the workshop are Jane Mago from the National Association of Broadcasters, Patricia Tikkala from Sprint Nextel, Brett Haan from Deloitte Consulting, and Jay Adrick from Harris Corp.
The FCC’s full agenda can be found on its website (PDF).
Friday, May 25
Earlier today, a privately funded spacecraft docked with the International Space Station for the first time. As Bloomberg’s Brendan McGarry reports:
Closely held SpaceX, controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, connected its unmanned Dragon capsule to the station at 12:02 p.m. New York time, according to Kyle Herring, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is the first company to accomplish the feat.
“This is truly a momentous accomplishment for SpaceX and for the industry,” Michael Lopez-Alegria, president of the Washington-based Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a statement. The country is on its way to having a cost-effective space transportation system, he said, and SpaceX should be thanked for “restoring U.S. access to the space station.”
That’s pretty awesome, and shines a light on just how powerful private investment can be when it comes to innovation and moving America forward — a message not lost on the White House. As the Associated Press reports (via FoxNews):
The White House quickly offered congratulations.
“Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting,” said John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser. “This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA’s resources to do what NASA does best — tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit.”
As competition between private companies helps further America’s reach into the stars, it’s worth remembering competition and private investment are having an equally important effect here on the ground. With broadband — especially mobile broadband — driving our new digital economy, ensuring private companies continue to compete and invest to build out increasingly powerful networks will be critical.
Remember, President Obama has set the goal of connecting everyone to mobile broadband. Just as the private sector will make it possible for NASA to set their sites on Mars, private companies can achieve the President’s goal and allow the government to focus its attentions and resources on other matters critical for America’s future.
Thursday, May 24
As Verizon’s $3.6 billion proposal to purchase spectrum from various cable companies continues to be examined by both the FCC and the Justice Department, The Hill‘s Andrew Feinberg reports Sen. Heb Kohl, head of the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee, wants the deal to be run through with a fine-toothed comb:
In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder, Kohl makes clear that he’s not prejudging the deals to be unlawful under the Communications Act or antitrust laws. But he also makes clear that he believes the transactions should be “examined closely” because they present “serious competition concerns.”
Wednesday, May 23
This morning, Irving Information Group President & CEO Larry Irving (who was also a founder and former Co-Chair of IIA) delivered the keynote for the New America Foundation‘s event in Washington, DC, “From Broadcast to Broadband: New Theories of the Public Interest in Wireless.” It was a lively discussion (and it carried over to Twitter as well; just do a search for the hashtag #bcast2bb).
Irving kicked things off by telling attendees that this year alone people will be buying 100 million tablets, and that 88 percent of people now have a mobile device. He then touched on what that means for society, especially for voices that have in the past struggled to be heard:
We have never had more diverse voices across all segments of media. The net removes the barriers to entry, for the most part. There is 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 20 to 30 of the top 50 stations on YouTube are minority generated or focused. And the audience is disproportionately young people.
But after laying out the positives of our new media landscape, Irving pivoted to the biggest challenge to the continued growth of mobile broadband:
One huge impediment is looming spectrum scarcity. Everything we’ve talked about has always been about scarcity. The laws of physics of building out infrastructure mean we are going to hit a crunch. There was a 230 percent increase in mobile data use last year. Smartphones use nine times more bandwidth than feature phones. And tablets use three times that of smartphones.
While Irving was encouraged by current efforts to free up more spectrum for wireless, he was discouraged by how slow the process has been (“A ten year span to get 500 MHz? We need to speed that up!”), and argued the problem of the spectrum crunch should receive attention from a higher national authority:
It’s going to require the White House — not through weak comment, but through actual action.
The New America Foundation’s event was streamed, so hopefully the archive will be up soon. In the meantime, you can learn more here.
Monday, May 21
In an opinion piece for Politico, CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent makes the case that more spectrum for wireless will mean an explosion of innovation:
The world leadership we claim has been built over time, and today the U.S. is home to more than 69 percent of the global LTE subscribers, even though we have less than 5 percent of the world’s population and less than 6 percent of the world’s wireless subscribers.
Some of the most advanced wireless devices were launched first in the U.S., including Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Samsung’s Galaxys, Motorola’s Droids and HTC’s EVO 4G. In addition, Americans may choose from more than 630 unique devices while, by comparison, those in the United Kingdom have fewer than 150 choices. But all this is at risk if the industry is allowed to become even more spectrum constrained.
In response to Largent’s piece, our own Bruce Mehlman left this comment:
American consumers are benefiting from increasingly robust nationwide wireless data services including mobile apps, real-time social media and streaming video. With new wireless subscribers signing up every day and more and more spectrum hungry services snacking on the available airwaves, of course there is less spectrum to go around. Saying that the spectrum crisis isn’t real is an excuse for inaction.
Thursday, May 17
Our friends at the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) have put together a graphic breaking down just how much wireless has come to dominate our lives. Both English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF) versions are available. On HTTP’s blog, Executive Director Jason Llorenz highlights some of the cool findings showcased in the graphic:
Today, there are more wireless subscriptions than people in the U.S. That’s just one of the facts we reveal in the first of a series of Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) info graphics available in English and Spanish. If you have a “work” mobile phone plus a “personal” device, you’re part of that trend. Here’s another shocker: by the end of 2012, there will be more wireless subscriptions than people on the planet. This ever-growing increase in demand is great news for developers who are creating new apps, and for entrepreneurs who are connecting to the global marketplace and growing their businesses.
In a must-read article for Bloomberg, Larry Downes argues the FCC — despite its good intentions — is getting in the way of freeing much-needed spectrum for wireless:
Speaking the week of May 7 at the annual meeting of the mobile trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had to acknowledge the sad truth that “the overall amount of spectrum available has not changed, except for steps we’re taking to add new spectrum on the market.”
Those “steps,” however, only promise spectrum sometime in the vague future. For now, the two agencies have put almost no new spectrum into actual use. Instead, the agencies have piled up a depressing list of delays, scandals, and wasted opportunities.
Later in the piece, Downes calls for a major overhaul of how spectrum is managed by the government:
Saving the mobile ecosystem—and making way for the next generation of mobile innovation—demands a bold new strategy. For starters, it is time to stage an intervention for federal agencies hoarding spectrum. Private licensees who no longer need the spectrum they have must be able to sell their rights quickly in a working market and be prodded, when necessary, to do so. Buyers need the freedom to repurpose spectrum to new uses.
Also, we need to increase incentives for network operators to continue investing in better and more efficient infrastructure, not throw cold water on them in the name of a vague and largely undefined public interest. The number of competitors isn’t what matters. It’s the ability of consumers to get what they want at prices that, at least up until now, continue to decline.
Downes’ full article is blunt, alarming, and worth reading.