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American Cellular Companies Clamor For Fresh Spectrum

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the remember-to-blame-the-free-market dept.

Wireless Networking 103

alphadogg writes "No one will ever say that America's wireless carriers are too proud to beg. This year's Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association Wireless trade show in New Orleans seemed less like an industry gathering at times and more like an infomercial dedicated to forcing the government's hand to free up more spectrum. Start with CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent, who dedicated the vast majority of his introductory keynote address to discussing the challenges carriers will face if they don't get fresh spectrum to use within the next few years. Execs from T-Mobile, Verizon and others also beat the drum. Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, for example, said: 'Innovation is at risk today due to the spectrum shortage that we face. If additional spectrum is not available in the near-term, mobile data will exceed capacity by 2015.'"

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Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (3, Insightful)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977541)

Once you reach capacity, you've reached capacity, you can't go any higher than that

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977587)

I'm already pulled over! I can't pull over any farther!

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (4, Insightful)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977631)

Demand exceeds capacity, not use exceeds capacity.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978389)

Demand exceeds capacity, not use exceeds capacity.

Well if you remove all the apple shite there is bags of room ban all apple shit . crap like that stupid Siri what a waste of time effort and energy just like all apple devices

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978929)

crap like that stupid Siri what a waste of time effort and energy

Siri takes no more network capacity than a short VoIP call, as I understand it, because it is a short VoIP call. What are you going on about?

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39980943)

Demand == offer. How can it exceed capacity?

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977637)

I think it meant the demand would exceed...

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (5, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977695)

Once you reach capacity, you've reached capacity, you can't go any higher than that

Yeah, but the US carriers are doing it wrong. How is it that with the same or less bandwidth available, carriers in Europe and Canada are able to deal with the same or higher subscriber density?

No, really. Look at the cellular spectrum situation in a country like Germany or France, and look at the number of complaints you hear about dropped calls or not enough speed available in Berlin or Paris. You don't hear about it at all.

Canada may have a smaller population, but there's really only four cellular networks in Toronto, which is in the top five biggest cities in North America, and probably 90% of the subscribers are using one of two networks: Rogers and Bell. And those two networks are using the same frequencies and technologies. (well, the Bell network has sympathetic CDMA/HSPA, but they're 3 years into a switch over to 100% HSPA, and most of their customers already have HSPA devices). We're talking more than 2 million cell phones in a geographic area not much bigger than the city of Washington, DC, not to mention the commuters who aren't actually counted as part of Toronto's population, and they're *all* using 850/1900 HPSA, and yet somehow the carriers aren't complaining that there's not enough bandwidth.

No. It's not that there's not enough bandwidth available in the US, it's that the carriers are doing it wrong.

(and my apologies to our European friends, but I live in Canada, and work in the telecomm industry, so I speak about what I know).

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1, Informative)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977781)

I can't speak for Europe, but my impression is that data transfer is a lot more expensive here than it is in the US. From AT&T in the US $30 gets you a 3 gig data plan where in Canada that same $30 gets you a 1 gig data plan.

For the same spend in the US you get three times the data capacity.

So if by doing it wrong you mean the carriers in the US are not charging as much, then you're right.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977935)

Europe isn't one country. There are countries with ridiculously cheap mobile access, countries where mobile access costs an arm and a leg, and countries in-between.

In Austria, you can get 1000 minutes, 1000 SMS and "unlimited" data for 10EUR/month (drei.at Superphone L) or the same limited to 2GB of data pay-as-you-go.

France just got a new competitor which is stirring up the market: Free.fr offers 3GB, unlimited calls to many destinations, unlimited SMS within France and up to 3GB data for 16EUR/month.

In Germany, 3GB of mobile data, no minutes or SMS included costs 20EUR/month on a good network.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (4, Interesting)

glomph (2644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978185)

Totally correct; In Germany it's 3GB on a no-contract no-commitment prepaid SIM for €20/mo. (if you go over, you still get service, but 56k-ish speeds)
This is on the Deutsche Telekom network, probably the best in that market.

MORE importantly, in lower-use cases, you can get 200MB/500MB/1GB for €8/10/13 per month. Most users in the US really use little data, and have to pay out the ass for mandatory 'data plans'. This is where the real theft is in this FreedomLand scam.

Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile has an equivalent here (1)

Sosarian Avatar (2509846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982157)

In Germany it's 3GB on a no-contract no-commitment prepaid SIM for €20/mo. (if you go over, you still get service, but 56k-ish speeds) This is on the Deutsche Telekom network, probably the best in that market.

Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile here in the US has a no-contract plan through their website [t-mobile.com] that's fairly similar: it's US$30/month for 100 min talk + 5GB data at 4G speed, then 56k-ish speeds after that. All of the other plans I've been able to find cost 2-3 times as much to allow smartphones, and most only include 50-200 megs of data usage with high per-kilobyte charges beyond it, and many now include wifi & Google Talk use in counting towards included data/minutes.

I sure hope T-Mobile decides to stick with the US market in the long run, needless to say -- we need them.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978001)

http://koodomobile.com/en/on/datasaver.shtml [koodomobile.com]

Flex data plan, you pay for what you actually use. (within predefined tiers). $20 gets you 1GB, and $30 gets you 3GB. The big three expect you to take it without a lube, but all three of them have fight brands which are much more reasonably priced... Koodo (linked), for example, is owned by Telus. As it's owned by Telus, it's on the Bellus network, and has the same coverage as either Bell/Telus. They also offer nationwide long distance at no extra cost on all of their plans (except the City plan, which is $35/mo for unlimited local calling... same with nationwide LD is $50/mo), and no calling zones (nationwide roaming).

I'm paying $40/mo for my smartphone plan, and that's including all the data I use, nationwide LD, unlimited evenings/weekends, and unlimited global texting. I don't use a lot of data, but even if I did it'd still be significantly less expensive than Bell or Telus, and you couldn't pay me enough to do business with Rogers, as I've had far too many bad experiences with them in the past. (the unlimited global texting and unlimited nationwide long distance, both of which I do actually use, are what make it so).

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979383)

I am looking at moving to Canada, this Koodo looks allright but some parts are still a bit rapey on the price. 7 bucks for call display (rapey). Also the limits on text are laughable. Here in the states I have 50 per month, unlimited talk text and web along with unlimited 3g data. (and it has shrinkage if I pay my bills on time). I will be sad about cell phones when I get back to Canada (I am thinking of going with verizons north america unlimited plan (hate to go with the devil for cell phone but it might be the best option for me). Oh well what can you do.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978247)

That doesn't have anything to do with what "realityimpaired" was talking about, but that's okay.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 2 years ago | (#39980473)

Perhaps I'm daft and just don't understand what you mean. GP was talking about data usage as a function of subscriber density. Required bandwidth depends on more than just the number if subscribers per unit area. It also depends on how much data each of those subscribers use. I would presume that since data is three times as expensive as it is in the US that data usage per subscriber would be lower. That should (although it is admittedly not a simple relationship as it depends on human behaviour) mean lower required bandwidth.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (0)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977823)

So, are you suggesting that the free market is not the best way to parcel out a scarce, public resource? That ... ahem ... perhaps this is a natural monopoly and the consumer is best protected through (gasp!) regulation!

Dude, good thing your Canadian. If you were an American, the Republicans would be calling you a Marxist about now.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (0, Troll)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977849)

you're

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977939)

your an asshole.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978419)

My brother has a T-shirt that says "Your a moron". Most people think it's funny. But one day he was accosted in a shop by a very angry man who was practically frothing at the mouth shouting "No, no, you're the fucking moron". It was the moment the T-shirt was created for.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

Zanadou (1043400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39991977)

Did he pronounce the apostrophe correctly?

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977883)

So, are you suggesting that the free market is not the best way to parcel out a scarce, public resource? That ... ahem ... perhaps this is a natural monopoly and the consumer is best protected through (gasp!) regulation!

The article says there are four companies in the business in the US. Four is greater than one and hence, is not a monopoly. A monopoly, whether natural or not, requires that there be no competitors.

Cartels (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979093)

Four is greater than one and hence, is not a monopoly.

What you say is technically true. But four do form a cartel, and a lot of the same competition laws that apply to monopolies apply just as much to cartels.

Re:Cartels (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982085)

But let us recall that cartels behave differently than monopolies. The whole point of the distinction between monopoly and oligopoly is that the latter is not just some sort of little monopoly. It is substantially different. Competition even between few mostly colluding parties creates dynamics that aren't found in monopolies.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978339)

The problem here is with the notion that a free market is being used at all. That commercial entities are being involved should not confuse you with the idea that it is a free market where anybody can compete.

In the case of cell phone transmitters, I can't slap together a Linux box with some ham radio equipment and build a hobby cell phone tower without a ton of paperwork and the FCC breathing down my neck... assuming that there might even be remotely a way for me to have a prayer to get even a small slice of that spectrum to even try the experiment. Convince me that I might have a shot to even try something like that, regardless of the cost and the licensing paperwork involved, then I might be able to concede that it is properly a free market.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979421)

You don't understand what "monopoly" means. Natural monopolies are things that involve serious disruption to construct - distribution of power, water, sewer, natural gas, cable television, and copper/fiber all fall into that category. Cellular service, generally, doesn't involve tearing up the streets or running a bunch more wires overhead. And even when there's a natural monopoly in distribution, there's not necessarily a natural monopoly in production (although the accounting is really hard).

The question is not whether free markets allocate resources efficiently (and fwiw, all resources are scarce). They do. They're really good at that. In fact, that's all they do. The question is whether or not you have a sufficiently free market for it to work. Given the barriers to entry in the mobile phone market - some of which the government has put up, some of which are natural consequences of the nationwide market in mobile service - it could go either way. Yes, it's really hard to get in, and Verizon and AT&T really kill you on price. Sprint has tried to compete on price and is dying. You can get excellent service at much lower rates through MVNO's and regional carriers, but then you're stuck with older phones and smaller service areas. The regulation that appears to have worked best in Europe was mandating device interoperability among carriers, but that's a regulation aimed squarely at improving the freedom of the marketplace.

In all the years of the US government-Ma Bell partnership, they never showed any interest in making things cheap for consumers. Why would you expect that to change now? Americans have the world's largest free roaming area, and we pay for it.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

lurker1997 (2005954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978627)

Maybe the reason canada doesn't have a bandwidth problem is because Rogers and Bell gouge us so hard on pricing that nobody can afford to use the bandwidth they might like to with their mobile devices.

No shortage (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979129)

Maybe the reason canada doesn't have a bandwidth problem is because Rogers and Bell gouge us

In other words, the market is working in Canada. There is no shortage because airtime is being priced correctly to make the quantity demanded meet the relatively fixed supply.

Re:No shortage (1)

lurker1997 (2005954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979219)

We have a government granted duopoly though, not a free market. In a free market, presumably the spectrum would be used at its full capacity, and priced as high as the market would bear.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979099)

Bandwidth per subscriber is a function of radio bandwidth (fixed) and cellphone node size. If you halve the radius of a cellphone node you x4 the bandwidth per phone. US phones are cheaper because they don't shrink their nodes.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39980957)

Yeah, but the US carriers are doing it wrong. How is it that with the same or less bandwidth available, carriers in Europe and Canada are able to deal with the same or higher subscriber density?

If you put more towers out there, each one less powerful, you increase the total bandwidth. But that takes investiment from the part of the carriers, and they can't do that, can they?

It's very dangerous to exceed wireless capacity. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977829)

I know this is difficult for most people to understand fully, but there are some pretty serious risks involved when exceeding the capacity of a wireless transmission medium. Although you can't see or feel them, the wireless network is made up of millions of miles of thin, flexible tubing, each called a "wireless spectrum". These wireless spectra run through the air, across our great nation, and around the world. In short, they're everywhere. They're above your house, they're inside your house, they're even next to you as you read this.

Like any tubing, it has an internal pressure threshold. The tubing walls are somewhat elastic, so they can take a slight amount of excessive data. But if you start exceeding the threshold significantly, and over a prolonged period of time, the tube could split, or even completely burst.

I shouldn't have to tell you about the dangers of a split or burst wireless spectra tube. If the data valve in the server room isn't switched off soon enough after a leak or a break, massive amounts of data may leak out of the damaged wireless spectra. While it's annoying to have your phone call dropped, or to have your Internet connection go down, the pollution caused by this leaking data is the biggest concern of all.

While purely telephonic data is easy to clean up if leaked, Internet data leakage or spills are a much bigger problem. This Internet data can be a very vile mixture of smut, gore, and atheism. So with more and more people using the Internet on their wireless devices, the data content flowing through the existing wireless spectra is extremely toxic and dangerous to handle.

I fully support increasing the size of the wireless spectra tubing, as well as the wall thickness. We have to do whatever it takes to prevent the environmental and social destruction that could be caused by even a single wireless spectra bursting or breaking. No expense should be spared to ensure the safety of our great country and its people.

Re:It's very dangerous to exceed wireless capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39980649)

This is like sci fi comedy.

Re:It's very dangerous to exceed wireless capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39981303)

Duct tape can be used to repair split/burst wireless spectra tubes -- if caught early enough. Right at the moment of the burst, it can be done, but after about 3.4 seconds, the split will be too long. I suggest we train squirrels to patch these bursts. they're numerous and quick -- not to mention if one gets caught in a burst and dies, no one really cares.

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977851)

Mobile data in this case means "my ridiculous annual bonus".
"Innovation" means the "bi-annual yacht purchase and opulent coke, whores and champagne party"

do not need more bandwidth... (-1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978759)

The cellular companies don't need more bandwidth, they need to get rid of the iPhones.
Less bandwidth would be needed, and maybe companies like Sprint could turn a profit.

Get rid of the iPhone, and Android takes its place (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978967)

The cellular companies don't need more bandwidth, they need to get rid of the iPhones.

In what way does an iPhone necessarily send and receive more data in a month than a comparable Android phone used for similar things? Or is it just marketing that encourages iPhone users to do more with their phones than Android phone users? If you can show how the iPhone makes efficient use of the network, I'll see your point. But if it's just marketing, and the CDMA2000 carriers stop selling iPhones, then the iPhone usage patterns will probably bleed over into Galaxy S usage patterns.

It is well know that iPhones are hogs. (1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39985927)

Honestly,
It is well known that iPhones use too much data for no good reason.
for example:
http://www.neowin.net/news/iphone-4s-owners-use-twice-as-much-data-as-iphone-4 [neowin.net]

As are high-end Android phones (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986579)

It is well known that iPhones use too much data for no good reason.

With what servers are they communicating? The article you linked [neowin.net] doesn't go into any detail about the kinds of traffic that iPhone 4S users generate. The press release about the study [arieso.com] claims that the 4S is roughly comparable in data volume to high-end Android phones. Does the study itself give details about the specific types of traffic?

Re:Mobile Data cant exceed capacity (0)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978811)

Is this a joke? You can have unlimited capacity it all depends on power.

If the cell phone companies were willing to put up cell towers we wouldnt have this spectrum crunch. How else can cell phones work well in airports and places of high density, like football stadiums etc. Surely an airport like JFK has a lot of cell phone users yet I get decent coverage there. All they have to do is increase the number of towers will reducing the output signal strength. Cell phones were designed for that very purpose. They can adjust their output according to the signal strength needed to reach only the closest tower.

Political power to overcome NIMBY (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978983)

You can have unlimited capacity it all depends on power.

True, but it's not electrical power as much as political power to overcome NIMBY types who oppose towers going up near them.

Efficiency (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977547)

I would like to know how efficiently they're using what they've got, and from someone who isn't them or paid by them. A lot of companies build for new features and a rapid release schedule rather than for efficiency.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977575)

An independent study will tell you that spectrum isn't used efficiently, but the reality is that in major metro areas carriers are doing everything they can to squeeze every bit of efficiency out of what they have.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977739)

They either are or they're not. You're claiming that a group not paid by them will find that they're not using it efficiently, and then your'e saying they are. That's a bit of a contradiction, assuming the group is sufficiently honest.

Re:Efficiency (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977837)

They either are or they're not. You're claiming that a group not paid by them will find that they're not using it efficiently, and then your'e saying they are. That's a bit of a contradiction, assuming the group is sufficiently honest.

That post was just a rough draft of a marketing campaign. By the time the wireless company's marketing department is done with it we'll see something along the lines of:
Independent studies show that the wireless spectrum isn't distributed efficiently by the government. But here at Soulless Wireless we're squeezing everything we can out of the limited spectrum that we have.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978687)

Where everything is defined as "Money" as opposed to "The best service."

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977613)

The wireless carriers despise Research In Motion because their subscribers' data is compressed between the BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry NOC and the wireless carriers do not offer unlimited data plans for BlackBerry users with the exception of a few grandfathered plans. If all wireless data traffic was compressed there would be massive amounts of capacity available using the current allocated spectrum. In Canada, we get raped monthly and have to read "Government Recovery Fee" which is not even a government mandated fee but a misnamed extra fee pocketed by the Big Three wireless carriers in Canada.

Re:Efficiency (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978225)

In Canada, we ... have to read "Government Recovery Fee" which is not even a government mandated fee but a misnamed extra fee pocketed by the Big Three wireless carriers in Canada.

Actually in Ontario it is mandated by the government on the purchase of all electronics. If you're on a contract for a subsidized phone, that's akin to a rental of said phone and it's permitted for them to pro-rate the recovery fee over the term of the contract. Once the contract is up and you're no longer paying for the subsidy of your phone, that fee should disappear. I'd have to look it up, but it's usually a fixed percentage of the original purchase price of the device (that'd be the full unsubsidized price in the case of a cell phone). Other provinces have similar rules, though it's not nationwide yet.

That fee doesn't exist with all carriers, though... my phone through Koodo (which isn't on a contract at all) actually had that fee rolled into the quoted price of the phone, detailed in the fine print on the purchase contract. There's nothing on my bill at all about that fee, 911 access fee, or any of the other crap you see on some bills, and the monthly price I pay is exactly the price you come up with when building my plan through their website.

Regulatory recovery and unfunded mandates (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979057)

In Canada, we get raped monthly and have to read "Government Recovery Fee" which is not even a government mandated fee but a misnamed extra fee pocketed by the Big Three wireless carriers

In general, a "regulatory recovery fee" is intended to recover the cost of complying with specific unfunded mandates imposed by telecom regulators. These mandates include location service for the emergency number as well as local number portability among wireless, POTS, and VoIP carriers. One fee that is government-mandated is a contribution to a Universal Service Fund (or foreign counterparts), which ensures that essential telecom service in remote areas remains affordable. Your carrier may or may not itemize USF separately from other regulatory recovery fees. Prepaid carriers tend to itemize very little because it's harder to sneak in itemized fees when someone is paying cash for top-up cards.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979789)

so why isnt compression used more often (like opera turbO???)

Re:Efficiency (4, Interesting)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977667)

At some point it will depend on your definition of efficiency.

At the moment none of the four major carriers in the US are using common protocols and frequencies for G3 service and above. They may be using some frequencies in common, or some protocols in common, but to differentiate their services, they don't use common protocols. A side effect of this is that you can take a walk with three other people, each of you using a different provider's phone, and walk through almost any major metro area, and see different carriers signal levels fluctuating all over the place. It's nearly impossible to roam on other carriers services, and almost no-one is providing general coverage service outside of major metro areas. In some parts of the US, you are better off having an Iridium phone than anything from a cellular carrier.

Yes, each carrier is working hard to provide solid coverage in the metro areas, but it's not going to happen. The frequencies that provide the best reach into where the customer is are either already in use, or don't have sufficient capacity for high bandwidth. 700mhz may seem like a magic bullet, but remember that a TV channel has about enough bandwidth for 45 mbps, one way, and to spread that across 100 customers for a cell (or worse) means that no-one is going to see 500 kbps, or less than 60kB/s. To get higher throughput, you have to go to higher frequencies. And higher frequencies don't reach into buildings as well. Great coverage out on the street, perhaps, but that reflective surface on the window to keep the temperature down in the glass building does a serious number on signal reception.

And since 800mhz analog has been eliminated, there are a lot of towers across the US that it just didn't make economic sense to convert to digital service. That may start changing if the FCC mandates that the only way that they are going to open more spectrum is if there is broader distribution of coverage across the US. But I'm not going to hold my breath for that. I figure the likelyhood of that is right up there with the FCC mandating that US carriers all start using common protocols and allow users to use any new phone on the market with any carrier, at the phone's best transfer rate. I just don't see it happening.

Re:Efficiency (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978869)

Mostly accurate, but...

...remember that a TV channel has about enough bandwidth for 45 mbps, one way, and to spread that across 100 customers for a cell (or worse) means that no-one is going to see 500 kbps, or less than 60kB/s.

Unless everyone is using the network 100% of the time, it doesn't work like that. The nature of demand based networks allows for significant over-subscription while still delivering decent performance. Peak times may slow when you actually have many simultaneously active users. What you need to manage is that you have enough capacity to unsure that you maintain adequate performance during 95%-99% of peak demand periods, with much better performance during lower demand periods.

Netflix increases peak demand (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979181)

What you need to manage is that you have enough capacity to unsure that you maintain adequate performance during 95%-99% of peak demand periods

And with services that require high throughput sustained for long periods, such as Netflix VOD and OnLive gaming, demand during peak demand periods is likely to increase over time. If it is not feasible to increase capacity, such as if NIMBYs are blocking new towers, the only way to maintain adequate performance is to reduce the quantity demanded during these peak demand periods. As price goes up, quantity demanded goes down; hence the price gouging.

Re:Efficiency (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982453)

It's nearly impossible to roam on other carriers services,

The problem with roaming is that carriers charge each other high roaming fees. So for carriers to offer roaming in any fair / efficient way they have to pass through fees, fees high enough that they sting. Customers hate being charged roaming fees and think their carrier is ripping them off, even if they are just passing through costs.

Why should carriers provide a service from which they often lose money that antagonizes their customers?

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977705)

They're using it very efficiently. Prices are sky high, service is terrible, and poor underpaid CEOs bitch and whine about people actually using the services they're overpaying for. For corporate kleptocrats that is extremely efficient.

Perhaps you meant "are they sing what they've got, that we gave them, in our best interests?". I would submit the answer is not just no but hell no.

I've seen this before (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977565)

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead, for example, said: 'Innovation is at risk today due to the spectrum shortage that we face.

Yeah, you KNOW what's going happen next: they're going to petition the Government to allow for Indian spectrum to be brought into the country.

In Other News... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977567)

Fan boys don't understand why they can't get unlimited data for $5 a month.

Re:In Other News... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977777)

I get one for an equivalent of a tenner. It comes as an extra with my fixed 24/1 ADSL landline.

Of course, I'm from a different continent.

Re:In Other News... (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977847)

I get one for an equivalent of a tenner. It comes as an extra with my fixed 24/1 ADSL landline.

Of course, I'm from a different continent.

Oh sure, a magical place where you're not locked into carrier, where plans are reasonably priced and your providers aren't buying special consideration and favors from the government. Actually, that does sound pretty magical.

Re:In Other News... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977937)

Locking into contracts does exist here, through we're likely to go the way of Danes and legally mandate maximum length of six months to such a contract sometime soon due to competition limitations of a long contract.

That said, in general, most Nordics have very affordable internet offerings due to functioning and properly mandated competition and government incentives.

Re:In Other News... (1)

Sosarian Avatar (2509846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982363)

Oh, there's a passageway labeled payg to that land -- it's just that the sexy expensive phones we all like to pal around with are too loyal to the provider they 'share spectrum space with' to follow us through it.

Smaller, Denser Cells? (2)

mhocker (607466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977639)

Is it not possible to make the cell sites closer together? Or would this require actual capital investment on the side of the carriers?

Re:Smaller, Denser Cells? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39977991)

The answer is no. The frequency is already divide into channels by CDMA/TDMA/GSM. Making cell sites closer together doesn't solve the problem. Voice calls take 1 channel. Data calls take 2 channels. CDMA has slightly higher capacity than TDMA/GSM, but there's only so many calls you can jamm into the same frequency range. The more people you jamm into a frequency, the more work it is to filter out interference and noise. Take for example cities that are located in flat regions. They can get away with just a dozen towers. Compare that to a hilly, highly populated region like parts of CA coast. To get decent covered and signal quality, they have to dozens of receivers. Then there's skyscrapers that are full of metal. There's a reason why many malls and skyscrapers install cell towers inside the building.

Re:Smaller, Denser Cells? (2)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979225)

Uh they just have to build more towers and reduce the signal strength and the problem is solved. Notice how an apartment complex can have many wifi stations, or a cell phone works even in JFK airport or a football where many people are on the phone clustered together.

New Spectrum - New Terms (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977675)

Howabout the people elected to look out for the public interest take this opportunity to make sure that the lessons of the last decade or so are applied to any new spectrum licenses?

After all, if these businesses are desperate for what we have, we should use that leverage to negotiate the best possible deal. I'm thinking real net neutrality (not neutered neutrality), better inter-carrier interoperability (like all new spectrum must be used for only one type of signalling, say GSM only) and lets throw in a requirement that all phones which operate on the new spectrum can not be carrier-locked either. And that's in addition to what Google was able to wrangle on the last spectrum auction which required that the wireless telcos must also accept 3rd parrty devices on their networks.

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978703)

Who do you think paid for the people who got elected to those positions?

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39981733)

GSM?

ewww why not LTE? or at least UMTS..

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982429)

What carrier doesn't offer net neutrality at this point. Sometimes their customer facing services which essentially buys services from the wholesale has some forms of internet restrictions to boost revenue and that's an example of troublesome fees and surcharges that are part of American retail pricing. That's not really specific to cell phones. Their wholesale divisions certainly don't care.

    As for not carrier locking phones. Phones in the USA are mostly paid for through large subsidies. Why would the government be opposed to carrier locking? Heck why should individuals be opposed to carrier locking?

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982607)

What carrier doesn't offer net neutrality at this point.

Then it should be really easy for them to agree to it, right?

As for not carrier locking phones. Phones in the USA are mostly paid for through large subsidies.

Red herring. Contracts can take care of making sure the subsidy is paid back - just like they make sure you pay even if you simply cancel and stop using the phone altogether. The point is that some carriers won't unlock phones that are paid off because it suits them to make your phone useless if you want to go to another carrier even though you've fullfilled your part of the bargain.

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39984965)

JB: What carrier doesn't offer net neutrality at this point.
JWR: Then it should be really easy for them to agree to it, right?

Well yeah. It would also be easy for them to agree to having their staff be oxygen breathing. Generally though if you make a demand the demand is for something that the other party either isn't doing or doesn't intend to continue doing.

  Red herring. Contracts can take care of making sure the subsidy is paid back - just like they make sure you pay even if you simply cancel and stop using the phone altogether. The point is that some carriers won't unlock phones that are paid off because it suits them to make your phone useless if you want to go to another carrier even though you've fullfilled your part of the bargain.

Collateralized debt and uncollateralized debt have different associated interest rates. That's why a person pays less on a car loan or a mortgage than on credit card debt. By keeping the phone "on their network" the carrier makes sure they capture some (if not all) of the economic advantage of the subsidy regardless of whether you pay. But you are also missing the point about them being "paid back". They still get economic value out of the phone for the life of the phone. Quite often because these phones are frequently given to charities which sell them to the post pay market these phones have economic benefits for 2-3 generations of customers, not just the initial contract.

Lets take for example most Smartphones. Verizon's contract is $350 debt on month 0. With an iPhone 4S they are typically into that phone about $420 (more on the phones with more ram). No business would spend $420 to get a semi-enforceable $350 debt. They are doing it because they want to capture additional economic value. They aren't selling you a phone on some sort of payment plan, they are paying to have a phone on the their network and allowing you complete use/control of the phone in exchange for helping them to offset the cost of introducing that phone to their network.

The same thing applies even moreso with dumb phones where the carrier is getting about $120 in debt for often over $200 in expense.

The point is that some carriers won't unlock phones that are paid off because it suits them to make your phone useless if you want to go to another carrier even though you've fullfilled your part of the bargain

Yes. But you are thinking about the phone from a customer perspective. Regulation is done from an industry perspective. The FCC has no reason to subtly undermine the phone subsidy system. If they disagree with it, they could just ban it. If they agree with it, then to make it work carriers have to continue to get economic benefit even after "you've fulfilled your part of the bargain".

The inexpensive locked phones created for the postpay market, helps to offset costs for the prepay market. This isn't about you it is about the person you sell or give you phone to after you are finished.

Re:New Spectrum - New Terms (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987197)

But you are thinking about the phone from a customer perspective.

Well excuse me for thinking about what's best for the people who own the spectrum.

Just keep uping the frequency (0)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977745)

Theres plenty of unused spectrum higher up, UV, X-ray, gamma ray...

Re:Just keep uping the frequency (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977855)

Theres plenty of unused spectrum higher up, UV, X-ray, gamma ray...

If we started to use those spectrums then the TSA would take advantage of it and make us put their app on our phones so they could scan us 24/7.

Noo, down the amplitude instead (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978849)

IF they reduce the signal strength, all they have to do is increase the number of cell phone towers and they can support more users. Cell phone technology automatically does this (it being the whole purpose of cell phones and all) .. so they don't even need new types of cell phones or towers. Spectrum crunch is easily solved.

Oh wait, it'll never work because it involves them spending money on infrastructure. Much easier to beg for spectrum and establish a monopoly.

NIMBYs who block infrastructure (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979229)

Oh wait, it'll never work because it involves them spending money on infrastructure.

How would you recommend getting past NIMBY residents who complain to the city that they don't want to live near a big ugly tower and get brain cancer?

Re:NIMBYs who block infrastructure - easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39981845)

Require those NIMBYs to accept a telco-funded repainting of their house with that paint that has radiowave blocking material embedded in it.

If they dont want to accept the risks of the tower then forcibly prevent them from receiving the benefits of the tower. Given a choice between a nearby tower or zero cell reception inside their home, only the serious kooks will take the paint job and for those folks you can claim to have improved their living situation with better protection from those harmful radio waves.

Incompatible (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39977905)

I get the feeling the cell phone companies would love to all be on completely different frequencies with completely different protocols. Instead of having 5-band or 6 band phones that work everywhere, The phones manufacturers would have to give up and make phones that only work on ATT's version of 4G and nothing else.

Verizon (4, Informative)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978237)

It has been reported before that Verizon Wireless and AT&T are both begging for spectrum while they are currently holding spectrum that they haven't even used yet! This sounds like they want to grab as much as possible only to crowd others out of the market. The CTIA is an industry lobby group and is not there to benefit the consumer no matter how much they claim to benefit both.

Re:Verizon (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978803)

Shhh! That's supposed to be a secret. Just because they hold licenses (for which they paid billions of dollars) to spectrum they're not using doesn't mean they're inhibiting competition or limiting availability, they're just "planning for the future".

Re:Verizon (1)

ToddInSF (765534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39990715)

And that future of claiming there's a shortage of spectrum that they are not even utilizing is now.

Re:Verizon (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39980623)

It is only good business... why would you wait until you are screwed to do anything about it? It is far better to grab spectrum and use up what you have until you can get more, than force yourself to stop providing until you can expand. Telcoms might be evil, but they aren't idiots.

work at home (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978449)

what Steve responded I am amazed that you able to get paid $8751 in one month on the internet. have you read this web page http://freelancer-workathome.blogspot.com

Clamour all you want (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978575)

For a couple of decades now the Federal Government has been dragging its feet on letting carriers use more spectrum, align existing spectrum to the networks buildable by them (on anti-trust claims), preventing massive new availability by willing and able capitalists. FEDGOV also used monetary policy to POP the "tech stock bubble", which in hindsight was the biggest correct bet on the internet ever, resulting in STILL having massive dark fiber all over this country owned by a wasteland of BK firms, that if only they had access to the bank liquidity promised in 2000, could have had internet 2.0 by no later than 2005. Fiber to the front door for essentially everyone.

As it is now in 2012 we only have it to some larger urban areas and wireless is a patchwork of crippled, incompatible, and narrowly distributed systems. But we don't have monopolies! ONLY OLIGOPOLIES.

Get the government out of the internet and networks.

JJ

Here is an idea (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978699)

Drop Edge/2G and put a new and faster technology in its place, or give up that block of spectrum and ask for a different block. At least that is what Sprint is doing with iDEN by re-purposing it and its about time.

Spectrum crunch is BS, easily solved. (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978857)

IF they reduce the signal strength, all they have to do is increase the number of cell phone towers and they can support more users. Cell phone technology automatically does this (it being the whole purpose of cell phones and all) .. so they don't even need new types of cell phones or towers. Spectrum crunch is easily solved.
Oh wait, it'll never work because it involves them spending money on infrastructure. Much easier to beg for spectrum and establish a monopoly.

Pay up! (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979119)

You want more bandwidth? That's cool. So does everybody else. FCC should be auctioning off *every* section of commercial spectrum on a rotating 5-10 year cycle. If the cell phone companies can outbid the TV stations, goodbye Channel 13.

(By "commercial spectrum", I mean stuff not reserved by FCC for government, scientific, or amateur use, or bound by global treaty.)

Re:Pay up! (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982407)

The carriers would be thrilled. That's what the carriers want. They want to free up parts of the spectrum that provide little benefit (like High Def Television). They are perfectly willing to pay

Fair Enough, said the FCC (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979283)

We can double your bandwidth overnight. You will all agree to use the following, single communication type on all headsets. You all share identical spectrum and there shall be no more than one carrier will be allowed per tower.

You shall separate your infrastructure operations from your carrying operations and form state specific operation from your disperse groups. You will be required to have basic coverage over the entire landmass except where geographical features make it impracticable. Your infrastructure groups will be regulated by each state with the caveat that they shall provide identical billing prices to all carriers and that the total annual profit shall be limited to a range of 4-7% of gross operating funds, with a budget and rate setting amount between 5 and 6%. Excess profit shall be carried over for inclusion in the budget and used for infrastructure buildout or rate reductions.

All of the carrier groups, which are now wholly and permanently independent of the infrastructure no longer need worry about bandwidth internally.

reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979327)

What really needs to happen is that carriers need to realize that their networks depend on a finite amount of spectrum, therefore infinite increases in data speed and throughput are not possible. People will just have to deal with the fact that their phone cannot replace a computer connected to cable/DSL internet as far as speed of data transfer is concerned.

In other words, internet will always be slower on a phone via 3g or 4g networks. Also, 3g/4g coverage is very spotty.

In my opinion, other posters here are correct. All carriers need to stop trying to screw their customers, and work together to get the most efficient use of the spectrum they have before the FCC even thinks about considering their whines for more spectrum!

A manufactured problem (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979889)

If the carriers did not strong-arm people into buying data plans, they would not be running out of capacity. According to this survey (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404086,00.asp) 50.4% of Americans with cell phone service have smartphones. Nearly every one has a data plan because all of the major carriers, except for T-Mobile, require it for smartphone users, and T-Mobile does not make it well known that you can avoid the data plan charges.

Considering today's economy, given the choice, many people would gladly save the ~30 bucks a month that a data plan costs.

Bandwidth is broken for a reason (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#39981541)

What does wanting more spectrum have to do with bandwidth issues? It is obvious, to me at least, that they want the additional spectrum for ownership and nothing more. They know it exists. The last thing the want is someone else getting to first. Or worse. It being handed to the public!

Re:Bandwidth is broken for a reason (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982397)

They are perfectly willing to pay very large usage fees to the treasury each year. That's handing value to the public.

Grab part of ham radio spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39981589)

Most of UHF/SHF frequencies assigned to radio amateurs for experimental purposes are seldom used, and it is quite difficult to justify this waste. It would be much more of benefit to the collectivity if these frequencies were used for new wireless applications (WiFi, cellphones, etc.).

why never is the spectrum defined ? (1)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39982471)

Every article I see about spectrum is vague....like "Pepsi is thinking of buying land in New Jersey". We never hear which bands of frequencies the company in question covets, who has it, or what, specifically they intend to do with it. How hard is it to put in the specific channels/frequencies in articles...this drives me nuts...OK, I am a ham, and have some idea what/where the frequencies are, but article after article omits what is being sought and or fought over.

They're being so fucking unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39983041)

After all, what America needs is more spectrum for wireless microphones so that every block in every town can have its own awards show on public access cable! Get with the future, already!

They want to shut down free OTA TV (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39983371)

Follow the money. Remember how SCO couldn't compete with free linux, and tried to shut it down? Well, the IPTV and cableco and satellite providers are trying to the shut down free OTA TV so they can charge an arm and a leg for their services. Follow the money...
* USA AT&T has Uverse
* USA Verizon has FIOS
* Canada Rogers has Rogers Cable
* Canada BCE has Bell Fibe and Bell satellite

But people like me, in and around major cities, can get 10 to 20 or more channels of free legal OTA TV. And OTA high-definition TV is way better than the compressed crap you get from the cable/satellite/IPTV providers. They hate this for exactly the same reason that SCO hates free linux. Many people won't buy your product if they can get a similar product for free.

No matter how much spectrum they have, they'll always be clamouring for more TV spectrum, until every last free OTA TV station shuts down. Then watch cable/satellite/IPTV rates shoot through the roof. I'm old enough to remember the days of UHF channel 83. Then cellular grabbed the 800 mhz band, and UHF ended at channel 69. Then they grabbed the 700 mhz band and UHF now ends at channel 51. They're trying to shut down free OTA TV, 100 mhz at a time.

According to http://www.dailywireless.org/2010/06/18/phoney-spectrum-scarcity/ [dailywireless.org]

> Telcos paid over $15 billion for spectrum they are not using. AT&T is
> the worst offender, sitting on more than $10 billion in spectrum. The
> FCC seems to encourage this kind of speculation, and is doing the
> Telco's bidding by opening more spectrum for corporations to sit on.

This is not about meeting real demand, this is about shutting down free OTA TV.

Come again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39983443)

"Innovation is at risk today due to the spectrum shortage that we face."

I thought that's exactly what innovation is for. Why innovate if everything is handed to you?

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