Posted by: Joan Marsh on April 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm
A few weeks ago, AT&T announced an agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA. While some people were surprised by the announcement, the main reason for the deal was obvious to anyone who has been following the rapid growth of the wireless industry – we need more capacity to address the surging demand for mobile broadband.
AT&T’s wireless broadband networks continue to carry a tremendous amount of data traffic. You’ve heard the stats: wireless data traffic on our network is up over 8000% in the last four years and we anticipate it will be 8 to 10 times greater by 2015. The surest, fastest and most efficient path by far to addressing the capacity limitations we face in the near term is to acquire T-Mobile and its highly complementary spectrum portfolio and network assets. It was the deal hiding in plain sight.
The result of the combination will be extraordinary: the denser network of cell sites will drive capacity improvements and speed gains; spectral efficiencies will be gained by the combinations of two 2G networks into one, including less spectrum used for call set up and control, and more opportunities to migrate bands to support mobile broadband services.
Yesterday, AT&T’s Jim Cicconi talked about federal spectrum policies while on a panel at the Brookings Institution here in Washington, D.C. Although there was a question or two (ok, maybe a few more) about our recent announcement, panelists spent a good amount of time discussing the need for incentive auctions.
If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you know that we’ve been talking for a while now about the critical need for sensible spectrum reform, and how broadcasters should become a part of the solution.
In case you weren’t able to attend yesterday’s event, below is a clip of Jim on why it doesn’t make economic sense to allow broadcasters to continue to sit on such valuable spectrum (which they got for free, btw). He also asks, if broadcasters really need all this spectrum for over-the-air broadcasting, why do they also need must carry – government rules that require competing video providers to carry broadcasters’ signals?
Oh, and be sure to stick around after listening to Jim. Blair Levin has some interesting remarks on this subject as well…
As we gear up for tomorrow’s event at Georgetown University marking the one-year anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, I guess the inevitable question is, are we there yet? Well, not exactly. But after a somewhat slow start, the FCC has really picked up the pace in the last few months on one of the Plan’s lynchpin proceedings – reform of the Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation. In February, the FCC released a nearly 300-page NPRM. And just this week, the Chairman and his fellow Commissioners jointly blogged about their plans to complete this proceeding by the end of the summer. As someone who’s been working on these issues for over a decade, all I have to say is “wow.”
Reform of these policies is the most significant thing the FCC can do to promote the objectives of the National Broadband Plan. This is the point where people usually say something like, “these policies have done an excellent job of bringing about universal telephone service, but it’s now time to retool them for universal broadband.” I’m not going to say that. In my opinion, the high-cost universal service program has been a mess since its inception. And the intercarrier compensation “system,” has become a Rube Goldbergesque contraption optimized for little more than arbitrage and the generation of legal fees.
The principal failings of both USF and intercarrier compensation arises from the fact that they were grafted onto a system of public utility regulation that was originally built around local telephone monopolies. While USF and intercarrier compensation were both extended to certain competitive carriers, those extensions proved unstable and unsustainable. Competitive USF subsidies were ultimately capped to prevent runaway growth, and competitive carrier access charges had to be subjected to a form of dominant carrier regulation.
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.
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.