Thursday, February 21
At CNN Money, Kevin Kelleher writes about new numbers from Ericsson predicting major growth in wireless traffic:
Wireless data traffic will continue to grow 66% a year for the next five years. That means, by 2017, monthly mobile data traffic will reach 11.2 exabytes per month, or 13 times what it is right now. Other data points in the report underscore how big the mobile world has become and how quickly it will grow to be much, much bigger. Last year, some 4.3 billion people around the world had mobile devices, a population that will grow by close to a billion in five years.
Annual growth in data traffic will be significantly higher on smartphones (81%) and even higher on tablets (113%). However, smartphones will continue to be the biggest eaters of mobile-network data: In 2012, they made up 16% of devices connected to wireless networks and 44% of total traffic. In 2017, they will be 27% of connected devices and consume 68% of data.
Over 11 exabytes a month. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly the equivalent of 6 billion HD movies moving through the air each month.
Wednesday, February 20
We applaud the FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks to explore the possible future release of frequencies in the 5 MHz band for Wi-Fi.
As more Americans continue to depend on the anytime, anywhere advantages of mobile technology — the nation faces new opportunities and challenges in making next-generation services more widely accessible to the public. Explosive growth in wireless broadband services continues as consumers’ demand for the latest mobile devices, services and applications increases the need for additional spectrum in the wireless market. Government must take a multi-pronged approach to alleviate the imminent spectrum crunch to advance the benefits of wireless broadband for all Americans.
Allocating the 5 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi devices makes sense, given that it provides limited geographic coverage to avoid radio frequency interference. Consumers stand to benefit from this unlicensed spectrum through increased speeds and decreased congestion at a variety of locations including airports, Internet cafes and community anchor institutions across the nation.
Beyond this proceeding, the FCC should move quickly to launch its incentive auction to unlock additional spectrum for high-speed wireless broadband for both licensed and unlicensed spectrum use to maximize the benefits for America’s businesses and consumers.
Friday, February 01
How important is spectrum to the wireless industry? So important that normally fierce competitors are working together. As Phil Godstein of Fierce Wireless reports:
AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA inked an agreement with the Department of Defense to explore the possibility of sharing 95 MHz of spectrum that is currently used by the Pentagon and other federal agencies located in the 1755 - 1850 MHz band.
The announcement comes as the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration encourage spectrum sharing between commercial and government users as one way to meet Americans’ seeming insatiable demand for mobile broadband.
So far, Sprint is sitting out the agreement, though Goldstein notes they will “follow the group’s work.”
Thursday, January 24
This is a guest blog post from Lindsey C. Holmes, founder of digital marking firm LCH Business SM & Tech. You can learn more about Lindsey and her business at her website. — IIA.
You only need to look around you to see just how mobile our lives have become. Hop a train, visit a coffee shop, look around a crowded bar — you’ll likely see the same thing: People staring at a device in their hands.
We can argue whether all this screen staring is good for our social lives, but there’s no denying that the mobile revolution is changing how we live. It has also changed how we work.
As the founder of the digital marketing firm LCH Business SM & Tech, I specialize in helping clients build a comprehensive “digital footprint,” from a social media presence to creating mobile apps. I live and breathe in the mobile space, and yet I must admit that until recently I didn’t think much about what drives that space. Chances are you haven’t either.
I’m talking about spectrum, the airwaves that power every mobile thing we do. On the technical side, spectrum is all about frequencies and bands — signals carved up for various devices and uses. Your garage door opener? That relies on spectrum. Your remote control? Same thing. That WiFi connection in your house? Spectrum again.
But thinking beyond the technical aspects, spectrum is really one of our greatest natural resources. And like all natural resources, there’s only so much to go around.
Recently, Apple announced 40 billion apps had been downloaded from its App Store. Think about that. I remember when the first iPhone was released six years ago, and in that time 40 billion apps have been downloaded for Apple’s devices alone. An entire industry that didn’t exist six years ago now thrives, and a major component of that industry is the ability to download feature-rich apps to our devices through the air.
That’s what makes dealing with the “spectrum crunch,” as it’s being called, so important — not just for the big telecommunications companies and the government, but for business owners like me. Providers of mobile broadband are running out of airwaves, and unless more frequencies and bands are made available to them, demand for mobile broadband could quickly outpace capacity. And if that happens, a ripple effect will be felt throughout the mobile industry — from major app developers, to owners of boutique businesses like me.
Thankfully, the government and wireless industry have been working to address this problem recently. But as they hammer out the details and put together a plan to free up more airwaves, it’s important for them to remember their actions will have a major effect — good or bad — on businesses and entrepreneurs across the economy.
That’s why I’m paying more attention to spectrum. And it’s why you should be too.
Wednesday, January 23
Over at Bloomberg BNA, Paul Barbagallo highlights renewed focus from President Obama and Congress to make more spectrum available for the ever-growing wireless industry:
For much of the last four years, federal policymakers have worked aggressively to find swaths of frequencies that could be made available to wireless carriers to help meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for smartphones and tablet computers, which require more radio spectrum to carry their data transmissions—significantly more than what is needed to carry cellular telephone calls.
That work will continue this year, starting at the FCC.
Later in the piece, our own Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman is quoted:
“I think we’re going to see bipartisan interest in both inventorying and transferring spectrum from federal government use to private-sector use,” Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of nonprofits and corporations, including telecom carriers and equipment makers, told BNA.
Mehlman, former assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy under George W. Bush, noted that for the last four years, Congress has placed much of its attention on passing legislation to authorize the FCC to hold incentive auctions.
“A lot of focus is now going to turn to federal spectrum holdings that could be repurposed,” he said.
This is still an important topic. Barbagallo’s full article is definitely worth checking out.
Friday, January 18
As part of its effort to free up more airwaves for wireless use, the FCC has launched a new website with information for broadcasters on the upcoming spectrum incentive auctions. Check it out.
Thursday, January 10
Amidst all the talk at CES about innovation, new gadgets, and the coming transition to all IP-based networks, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reminded attendees yesterday there was another issue of importance for the tech industry: spectrum. As Broadcasting & Cable’s George Winslow reports, Genachowski sat down with CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro during the convention and reiterated the need to free up more airwaves for wireless use:
Shapiro began the hour long interview by telling Genachowski that “we want to call you the spectrum chairman because freeing up spectrum has been the hallmark [of your tenure at FCC chairman]...On behalf of the industry I appreciate your focusing on spectrum and the dire need for spectrum.”
Genachowski quipped in reply “I accept this honor on behalf of the FCC staff” and reiterated his longstanding contention that freeing up spectrum would encourage innovation.
“I don’t think it is a surprise that broadcasters who aren’t interested in tendering [spectrum] would rather this not happen,” he said. “But we need to do this for the country. It doesn’t make sense in New York to have 28 full power licenses.”
The FCC is currently receiving comments for its spectrum incentive auctions, which will hopefully go a long way toward easing America’s spectrum crunch.
Friday, January 04
At Light Reading, Jeff Baumgartner reports satellite provider Dish is still looking for help in order to build out a wireless LTE network:
Dish Network Corp. acknowledges it needs a partner to make its Long Term Evolution (LTE) dreams come true, but there are no hints as to who that might be. “We need a [wireless industry] partner, that much we know,” Dish CEO Joseph Clayton tells the Denver Business Journal. “Who it is remains to be seen.”
Potential partners for Dish, Baumgartner writes, are AT&T and T-Mobile.
Monday, December 17
As expected, Sprint has made a move to greatly bolster its spectrum holdings. Via Ryan Kim of GigaOm:
Sprint followed through on its bid to buy the remaining portion of Clearwire that it doesn’t own, and will spend $2.2 billion or $2.97 per share to complete the deal, the operator announced Monday. The deal by Sprint, which already owned 51.7 percent of Clearwire, values the 4G provider at about $10 billion, including net debt and spectrum lease obligations of $5.5 billion.
Friday, December 14
Earlier this week, it was rumored Sprint would make a bid to completely buy out mobile broadband provider Clearwire. Now, Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post reports, the rumors have become reality:
Sprint has made a buyout bid for the remaining stake of Clearwire that it does not already own, a move that would bolster the company’s spectrum portfolio.
The nation’s third-largest carrier currently owns 51 percent of Clearwire.
If the deal is finalized, Sprint’s all important spectrum holdings would increase substantially.
Wednesday, December 12
Via Mike Dano of Fierce Wireless, it looks like Sprint may be looking to absorb all of wireless broadband provider Clearwire:
Sprint Nextel is reportedly in active discussions to purchase the 49 percent of Clearwire that it doesn’t already own, according to media reports. The transaction could be finalized by the end of this year.
CNBC, citing two people familiar with the situation, reported that Sprint is investigating the purchase. Separately, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, also citing unnamed sources, later reported the same thing. Both CNBC and the Journal noted that Sprint executives are talking to Clearwire shareholders such as Intel and Comcast, but that it’s unclear what Sprint would pay to acquire Clearwire’s outstanding shares. Clearwire currently commands a market value of $1.8 billion and holds around $5 billion in debt.
Sprint already owns 50.8% of Clearwire, but increasing their investment could substantially help in building out their LTE network.
Monday, December 10
On Tuesday, December 11, IIA will be hosting a webinar with Entropy Economics President Bret Swanson about his new report “Soft Power: Zero to 60 Billion in Four Years.”
The webinar will cover the new era of software, where apps are the new American software industry. The App Economy boom has hugely benefited consumers, as well as fields like health care and education. “Soft Power” has generated more than half a million jobs in the U.S., but the App Economy’s dependence on the cloud will require ever-increasing network coverage and speed, i.e. more spectrum and investment.
When: Tuesday, December 11th at 11:30am ET/8:30am PT
Presenters will include:
• Bret Swanson, president of Entropy Economics LLC, a strategic insight firm specializing in technology, innovation, and the global economy
• Bruce Mehlman, founding co-chair of the IIA and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy (moderator)
Tuesday, November 27
A new report from Ericsson finds that smartphone data traffic continues to increase at a rapid rate:
The latest Ericsson Mobility Report, formerly known as the Ericsson Traffic and Market Report, reveals that approximately 40 percent of all phones sold in Q3 were smartphones. Data traffic doubled between Q3 2011 and Q3 2012, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 50 percent between 2012 and 2018, driven mainly by video.
Ericsson’s research shows that online video is the biggest contributor to mobile traffic volumes, constituting 25 percent of total smartphone traffic and 40 percent of total tablet traffic. This puts new requirements on networks to cater for quality anywhere and anytime.
With streaming video showing no signs of slowing down, Ericsson’s call for networks to “cater for quality anywhere and anytime” highlights the critical importance of allocating more spectrum for mobile broadband.
Friday, November 23
IIA Applauds Effort to Make Spectrum Screen Better, More Predictable & Transparent, But Notes More Spectrum Is the Key Issue for 2013
Weighs in on ways to spur investment and growth in mobile with comments for FCC’s Mobile Spectrum Holdings NPRM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 23, 2012 – Responding to the opportunity to offer comments on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) focusing on FCC policies regarding mobile spectrum holdings, the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition supporting broadband access and adoption for all Americans, today released the following summary and statement from its comments filed with the FCC:
1. Uncertainty Is Undermining Economic Growth & Job Creation.
2. Mobile Broadband Offers Extraordinary Potential to Drive Sustained Economic Recovery and Innovation.
3. Government Policy in 2013 Should Focus on Making More Spectrum Available for Private Use and Providing Greater Certainty for Investors.
“IIA believes the existing unpredictable, non-public process for changing spectrum screens undermines economic growth by failing to provide investors with the transparency, predictability and flexibility needed to properly consider wireless broadband investments. While freeing more spectrum for mobile broadband use remains the most important new policy priority, creating an open and predictable process for evaluating the amount of spectrum carriers will be allowed to possess is essential to promoting investment and growth in commercial mobile services.
“Today’s wireless marketplace is highly competitive, with nine out of ten consumers having a choice of five or more service providers in local markets across the nation. Future spectrum screen analyses should acknowledge such competitiveness, in addition to recognizing differential values of spectrum with varying propagation characteristics. Criterion should not disqualify or impair any carriers from participating in the upcoming Incentive Auctions or future auction of new spectrum. Clarity – both in the screen and knowledge that it will not unexpectedly change in mid-stream – should be sought to encourage more robust secondary markets.
“Spectrum screen decisions by the FCC should be made through the regular rulemaking process including the provision of notice, the issuance of proposed rules, an opportunity for interested parties to comment and judicial appeal from the final promulgated rule. Such a process assures that the rules will not be changed after carriers have made substantial investments in reliance on current screens. That certainty, which the present spectrum screen change process lacks, will stimulate investment and promote planned and orderly growth to the market for mobile services.”
Read our full comments on the FCC’s website.
Monday, November 19
Last week, a rumor was floating around that Google and Dish were looking to team up in order to build a wireless network. Today, Sara Portlock and Shalini Ramachandran of the Wall Street Journal report the FCC may soon grant Dish the ability to use some of its spectrum holdings to build out a cellular network. There’s a catch, however:
The Federal Communications Commission is close to approving a swath of the satellite airwaves controlled by Dish Network Corp. for use solely on a ground-based cellphone network, FCC officials say. But Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen isn’t likely to be happy.
That’s because the FCC is also seriously considering requiring Mr. Ergen to restrict a slice of his airwaves, or spectrum, as a barrier to protect against interference on a neighboring spectrum band, the officials say. Mr. Ergen in an interview Thursday said such a move “would be a game changer for us,” making his bet to enter the wireless industry “increasingly risky.”
Wednesday, November 14
Speaking of incentive auctions, yesterday FCC Commission Jessica Rosenworcel spoke at a conference and laid out her vision for how the auctions should proceed. The National Journal‘s Juliana Gruenwald once again reports:
Rosenworcel, a Democrat who joined the five-member commission in May, outlined the proposal during a conference that examined spectrum policy over the next decade. She noted that meeting the nation’s spectrum needs will require a variety of approaches, including effective implementation of the incentive auction process by the FCC, technological solutions, and spectrum sharing.
She also echoed calls for federal agencies to give up more of their spectrum to commercial wireless providers. Noting that government agencies are understandably reluctant to surrender a network or communications system once it’s in place, she suggested giving agencies an incentive by offering them a share of the proceeds from the auction of the federal spectrum.
The National Journal‘s Juliana Gruenwald reports that with the FCC’s incentive auctions gearing up, a group of broadcasters has banded together to work with the Commission:
The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition will press to obtain the best conditions for broadcasters as the FCC implements legislation passed in February that authorizes the use of incentive auctions to free up TV stations’ spectrum for use by wireless broadband providers.
According to John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, the FCC’s chief is down with the idea:
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday gave an “open, transparent and data-driven” shout-out to the new Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which is being organized by former broadcast exec and one time Association for Independent Television Stations president Preston Padden.
“Incentive auctions will offer significant opportunities for broadcasters—both those that will take advantage of a once in a lifetime financial opportunity, and those that will choose to continue to be a part of a healthy and diverse broadcast marketplace,” said the chairman in response to the creation of the coalition. “I welcome the participation of the new Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition in our rulemaking process as the Commission engages all stakeholders in a manner that is open, transparent and data-driven.”
Monday, November 05
Over at The Hill, Jennifer Martinez reports that when it comes freeing up more spectrum for wireless use, at least one FCC Commissioner says the FCC is all in on voluntary spectrum auctions:
Mignon Clyburn, a Democratic commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), expressed confidence in the agency’s ability to execute its ambitious plan to off auction television stations’ airwave licenses to cellular service providers during a C-SPAN interview.
“We have no plan B, there’s a plan A. We’re doing all that we can to make sure that there are market synergies, that there are market forces, that there are market opportunities that both the buyers and sellers can take advantage of,” Clyburn said during a taping of C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” program that will air Saturday.
Wednesday, October 31
Michael Shields of Reuters reports on a debate over spectrum, only this time it’s not here in America:
T-Mobile Austria could slash investment or even withdraw from the country if it is not allowed to compete with rivals that get frequencies needed for fourth-generation LTE mobile products, CEO Andreas Bierwirth told a newspaper.
The Deutsche Telekom unit is Austria’s second-biggest mobile provider after Telekom Austria. Two smaller rivals - France Telecom SA’s Orange and Hutchison’s H3G - are trying to merge in a deal that is under regulatory review.
When asked if T-Mobile would bail on Austria altogether, Bierwirth went on to say “I wouldn’t want to rule out any options for this case.”
Monday, October 22
Courtesy of Jeff Baumgartner of Light Reading:
Dish Network Corp. has agreed to pay US$700 million to Cablevision Systems Corp. and its AMC Networks unit to settle a legal spat over the defunct Voom HD service, but there’s a big wireless broadband angle in there, too. About $80 million of that money will go toward Dish’s purchase of Cablevision’s 500MHz of Multichannel Video and Data Distribution (MVDDS) licenses covering 150 million people in 45 metro U.S. areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.