Posted by: Joan Marsh on February 15, 2011 at 10:44 am
After seeing NAB’s latest salvo in the spectrum debate in the Feb. 7 issue of Communications Daily, I have to admit that I agree with NAB on one point: it’s time to move beyond the rhetoric. Let’s dissect NAB’s most recent retort.
First, NAB claims that the “spectrum crisis” rhetoric is overheated. There’s certainly been a lot of (wasted) debate about the phrase “spectrum crisis.” Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you call it: you can call it a crisis; you can call it a crunch; you can call it a duck. What matters is what it means for U.S. wireless leadership and the availability of wireless data services by U.S. consumers.
There is no longer any serious debate that mobile data traffic growth continues to explode. Let’s turn again to the recent Cisco forecast. By 2015, global mobile data traffic is forecasted to reach an annual run rate of 75 exabytes. That’s the equivalent of 19 billion DVDs, or about 75 times the amount of global IP traffic (mobile and fixed together) generated in 2000.
No matter what label is used, these types of growth trends will lead to only one result: wireless network capacity exhaust (a topic appropriate for a separate blog). So, we can continue to mindlessly debate whether there’s really a spectrum “crisis,” or we can get on with discussing how this country is going to manage forecasted wireless data demands while maintaining leadership in the global wireless revolution.
Congressman Peter T. King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson have introduced legislation (H.R. 607) to make more spectrum available to public safety for a nationwide wireless broadband network. The following statement may be attributed to AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations Tim McKone:
“Chairman King’s and Ranking Member Thompson’s strong commitment to and deep understanding of the public safety community are reflected in the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011, which they introduced today. We commend their bipartisan leadership in putting forth legislation that clearly outlines how public safety will be able to build and maintain a nationwide interoperable network. Reallocating the D-block spectrum to public safety is the only option that will ensure that both first responders and consumers have state-of-the-art wireless broadband communications during times of need.”
In case you weren’t able to attend last Friday’s Free State Foundation event, you missed AT&T’s Jim Cicconi talk about what the FCC needs to focus on now that we’ve moved on (right?!) from the “exhaustive and exhausting” net neutrality debate that took up the majority of the Commission’s time and energy for the past two years.
In the video clip below, Jim talks about the critical need to tackle universal service and intercarrier compensation reform if we’re serious about achieving 100% broadband in America. These systems, which were designed to be the underlying support for our country’s communication networks, are extremely complicated and, most importantly, undeniably broken. But, if we all believe that broadband will be the economic driver that takes us through the 21st century and beyond, then we have to reform the antiquated policies that stand in the way.
And, if we can agree that the universal service system should be devoted to broadband, then it’s imperative that we fund the most efficient technology to do this. So, if we are truly committed to supporting broadband, then we must be willing to say goodbye to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
President Obama today unveiled details of the Administration’s National Wireless Initiative, which is designed to bring wireless broadband to at least 98% of Americans. The following statement may be attributed to John Donovan, AT&T Chief Technology Officer:
“President Obama has outlined a comprehensive and aggressive plan that lays the groundwork for bringing wireless broadband to all Americans. AT&T applauds the Administration’s support for the role that industry and private investment play in making this important goal a reality. As we saw demonstrated today in Marquette, Michigan, wireless broadband makes possible extraordinary opportunities for both consumers and businesses, as well as for America’s students and teachers.
“This initiative will also enable public safety to build and fully operate a nationwide, interoperable communications network. The Administration’s commitment to provide public safety with the resources it needs while at the same time taking necessary steps to meet the needs of broadband providers is a tremendous step forward for this country.”
Posted by: Bob Quinn on February 8, 2011 at 10:36 am
Maybe that doesn’t have the toe tapping groove of the opening line from Sgt. Pepper but it seems a fitting way to mark the 15th Anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. And, maybe the occasion won’t get the same play that Facebook got for its 7th anniversary last week, but that law was the first major overhaul of America’s communications rules since the 1930s.
Think back to what “communications” meant when Congress wrote that law.
People were dialing up the Internet to access their Prodigy or CompuServe accounts. But perhaps the great technological innovation of 1996 was America Online’s introduction of the Buddy List to make IM’ing easier. Speaking of AOL, around that time, there was a memorable Time magazine cover story with the headline, “AOL Wins!” Try saying that in front of a mirror today and keeping a straight face. On the wireless front, about 38 million Americans were subscribers and their phone calls went out over the nation’s 24,000 cell towers. Today, there are about 295 million subscribers whose communication goes out over more than 250,000 cell towers.