Why the 600 MHz Auction Matters

A Cisco report released earlier this year offers some compelling observations and dramatic observations and predictions about wireless broadband. By way of example:

  • Global mobile data traffic grew 70% in 2012;
  • Mobile video traffic exceeded 50% for the first time in 2012;
  • Mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012;
  • In 2012, a 4G connection generated 19 times more traffic on average than a non-4G connection;
  • By the end of 2013, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth, and by 2017 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita;
  • Mobile-connected tablets will generate more traffic in 2017 than the entire global mobile network in 2012.

That’s part one.

Part two: jargon such as “we need to maintain global competitiveness” gets thrown around so much that it begins to assume all the impressive weight of a cliché.

So, instead of talking about global competitiveness, let’s talk about the hand-to-hand combat of local competitiveness – whether one business can compete against another, and what it takes to survive in a world where consumers expect 24/7 “always on” responses. Read more

Trial by Fire (Island)

In a bid to restore post-Hurricane Sandy service to New York’s Fire Island, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is proposing the installation of Voice Link, a fixed wireless service the company says will save millions of dollars when compared to the cost of replacing damaged copper lines. The New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) has authorized Verizon to install the service for the summer tourist season, when the island’s population can balloon to 10,000, but has deferred a decision on whether Verizon will be permitted to implement the service in other rural areas of the state.  The FCC, in turn, is effectively characterizing Verizon’s Fire Island approach as a “technology trial” of sorts, and is seeking comments on others who might propose to do similar things elsewhere. Read more

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I have a bad habit of reading books twice. Or three times. Or four or more times.

It is a habit I cannot explain, except that sometimes I want to return to enjoy the rhythm and cadence of the writing again, or to see if I can tease out a new understanding of the material. Sometimes, I like to be reminded of the lessons the literature teaches. A favorite is The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s 1953 depiction of the 17th century Salem witch trials. Toward the end of the play, protagonist John Proctor confesses to a sin he did not commit so that he can avoid the gallows, but balks at permitting the court to make his signed confession public. “Tell them I confessed myself,” he tells the magistrates, “say Proctor broke his knees and wept like a woman, say what you will.” When asked why he does not want the signed document to be made public he exclaims, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life,” and referring to the false confession declares, “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave me my name!” It is a good lesson, worthy of review.

Repetition can be good, at times. In the rural industry, we repeat things we know are true, not for the luxury of repetition but for the point of education and enlightenment and perhaps reinforcement. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to take break, and over the past couple of weeks a few came through. Read more

Summer Reading II: Horses and Windmills

Policy Perspectives

Travel this week enabled me to spend some time with a biography of Abraham Lincoln.  I started the book in 1997, and last weekend realized that I had averaged only about 16 pages per year in the past decade-and-a-half.   And, it wasn’t the only one; I have several volumes at home whose immobile bookmarks seem to glare and accuse me silently of inattention.  Resolved to finish those books before I begin anything else, I took the 600+ page Lincoln hardcover with me on the plane.

I must admit that I felt a bit anachronistic.  On four flights over two days, I saw only one other person with a printed book.  Everyone else was hunched over a Kindle, or an iPad, or a laptop.  Still, the weight (and wait) was worth it, and I worked though about 100 hundred pages covering Lincoln’s election and the early days of the Civil War.  Read more

Mobile Data Boosting Profits?

An April 19 New York Times article discussed the declining growth rate in new wireless customers, highlighting Verizon Wireless. In the first quarter of 2012, the company noted a 16% drop in new subscriber growth compared with one year ago. Most of the reason for the drop may be because those who want cell service already have service, limiting the number of new subscribers.

Verizon Wireless did report a $1.7 billion profit for the first quarter primarily on smartphone and tablet data fees generated by those who watch video, browse the Web and listen to music. According to Verizon’s report, the company recorded $6.6 billion in mobile data revenue for the quarter, a 21.1% increase over the previous year.

According to the New York Times, experts indicate that mobile data usage more than doubled in size in 2011, and they predict that it will increase by a factor of 18 by 2016. As growth in subscribers begins to slow down, analysts say that Verizon and other wireless carriers will begin looking for other ways to sustain growth in mobile data use, including more shared family plans for mobile data.

Relying on information provided by independent industry analyst Chetan Sharma, the Times went on to note that Verizon has now built out its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network covering 230 markets. Only 47% of Verizon Wireless customers currently own a smartphone. Converting cellphone users to smartphones represents large potential profits. In addition, LTE networks move more data quicker, which may prompt customers to go through their allotment of data faster, tempting them to buy more.

Dish Chairman Offers Insight into Wireless Business Strategy

At an April 17 speaking engagement, a candid presentation at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Law School, Dish Network Corp. Chairman Charles Ergen discussed his company’s plans to launch a nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Dish’s plans are subject to a recent FCC notice of proposed rulemaking. The outcome could make way for Dish to deploy wireless services in the newly coined Advanced Wireless System (AWS) 4 band. Ergen acknowledged that there is “no guarantee” that the commission will adopt the ruling. He added, “We’re kind of a one-trick pony as a company. We do fixed video very well, do it economically. It’s a great product.”  He went on to describe the addition of an advanced wireless product as being essential to Dish remaining a competitive and an innovative company. Read more

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