US Running out of Spectrum by 2014

Thanks again to Steve Jobs and his iPhone, we are running out of spectrum.

The latest report by FCC shows we’ve been increasingly checking our email, surfing the Net and watching video on our mobile devices. This explains the rise on usage of mobile data and the demand for them which is just about to exceed the capacity of available wireless networks.

If it wasn’t because of the iPhone like type of smartphones, I don’t think we would have gone crazy with our phones like we are today.

“If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall — a spectrum crunch — that will stifle American innovation and economic growth.” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The National Broadband Plan recommends that the FCC make available 500 MHz of new spectrum for wireless broadband within 10 years, including 300 MHz within five years.

Usage by device type

“Devices with enhanced functionality tend to consume more data,” according to the white paper. “This is demonstrated in estimates of mobile data use during the second half of 2009 by independent industry analyst Validas. BlackBerry, with superior e-mail utility, consumes twice the amount of data monthly as a normal mobile handset. The iPhone, useful for mobile web browsing and applications, consumes five times the data monthly as BlackBerry. And aircards, facilitating a full mobile computing experience, consume five times more data monthly than the iPhone. These devices, aggregated across the network, lead to significant total mobile data consumption.”

The study shows that usage could double almost every two years or less across all device types, and that when laptops access the Internet solely using wireless technology, growth is similar to fixed networks. “The average monthly usage per subscriber on the Clearwire network, which many consumers use as a substitute for wired broadband, is already 7 GB. Continued growth of this device segment is likely to contribute significantly to the growth of mobile data traffic.”

Cell-site growth

The white paper discusses how building new cell sites and operating cell sites more efficiently can offset the need for new spectrum. As such, it projects flat growth levels of cell sites at about 7% over the next five years, in part because much of the macrocellular networks already have been built, so cell-site growth will focus on increasing capacity, not coverage.

Economic impact

“Even with the conservative set of assumptions used in this model, it is apparent that the nation faces the prospect of a spectrum shortage within the next five years,” according to the white paper, which also notes it traditionally has taken between six and 13 years to free up new spectrum. While the study didn’t project further out than five years, it said it is reasonable to extrapolate that the nation will need to keep releasing spectrum to keep up with mobile broadband demand.

The FCC also announced it formed a new Technological Advisory Council, charged with identifying areas of innovation and developing informed technology policies to help America remain competitive.

Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Bookmark and Share

About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

2 Responses to US Running out of Spectrum by 2014

  1. It’s a complete crock!

    First, the FCC can’t do basic arithmetic, as several people have pointed out. See for example:
    http://tmfassociates.com/blog/?p=681

    And in any event, the FCC assumes the only way we can provide data access is via conventional cellular mobile systems. That’s a poor assumption when a large and increasing percentage of the high data usage devices have both cellular and Wi-Fi radios built in. It’s also the case that a very high percentage of mobile connections are made from just two cells, one near your work and one near your home. Since both those locations are likely to have Wi-Fi, any study of data usage has to consider the possibility that mobile data will be offloaded to Wi-Fi.

  2. The FCC’s report is a crock!

    First, the FCC can’t do basic arithmetic, as several people have pointed out. See for example:
    http://tmfassociates.com/blog/?p=681

    And in any event, the FCC assumes the only way we can provide data access is via conventional cellular mobile systems. That’s a poor assumption when a large and increasing percentage of the high data usage devices have both cellular and Wi-Fi radios built in. It’s also the case that a very high percentage of mobile connections are made from just two cells, one near your work and one near your home. Since both those locations are likely to have Wi-Fi, any study of data usage has to consider the possibility that mobile data will be offloaded to Wi-Fi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: