1. the_sleuth's Avatar
    Here's another article on data crisis facing carriers in North America. This will play to RIM's advantage of its own network:

    Wireless firms fret over mobile data ‘tsunami’
    PAUL TAYLOR
    New York— Financial Times
    Published Wednesday, May. 09, 2012 4:01PM EDT
    Last updated Wednesday, May. 09, 2012 4:08PM EDT

    Back in the early 2000s mobile network operators were clamouring to sign up new subscribers to “unlimited” data plans to offset what they correctly perceived to be a steady decline in mobile voice revenues.

    But, in a startling validation of the adage “be careful what you wish for,” mobile operators in the U.S. in particular are now scrambling to keep pace with a smartphone and tablet PC-driven mobile data tsunami that threatens to overwhelm their networks.

    The twin issues of the data overload and spectrum crunch have been key themes at the wireless industry’s CTIA conference in New Orleans this week.

    “There is no debate over the fact that there is a looming spectrum crunch,” says Dan Mead, chief executive of Verizon Wireless, in a keynote session at the conference.

    Mobile data traffic on the networks of both Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile network operator by subscribers, and its closest rival, AT&T Mobile, has been doubling every year for the past five years, amid the growing popularity of data-hungry mobile video streaming and downloads.

    But wireless spectrum – the basic raw material needed by network operators to expand their capacity – is in short supply. Without additional spectrum, U.S. operators warn that mobile data traffic will exceed capacity by 2014, driven mainly by the growth of mobile video.

    The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has set a target of freeing up an additional 500Mhz of spectrum for mobile operators over the next decade. Julius Genachowski, the FCC’s chairman, warned ominously: “If we don’t act, the costs of not addressing the spectrum crunch – dropped connections, congested airwaves, lousy service and rising prices for data – will get higher every day.”

    But the process of freeing up new spectrum and auctioning it off is too slow, say some of the operators, including AT&T, which has been a vocal critic of the FCC since its spectrum-driven $39-billion bid for Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA was blocked six months ago by U.S. regulators. With minimum new wireless spectrum available, at least in the short term, the leading U.S. mobile operators are all being forced to come up with new tactics and technologies to manage mobile data growth and make better use of the spectrum they already own.

    These strategies range from accelerating the rollout of new, more efficient 4G technologies such as LTE and building denser wireless cells using new “small cell” technology and antenna, to offload data on to WiFi networks.

    Perhaps most controversially, they have also begun “throttling” data download speeds for the heaviest users, including those on legacy “unlimited” plans, in an apparent attempt to persuade these users to curtail their download habits, or switch to potentially more costly monthly metered data plans. Such a move by AT&T was met with a storm of online abuse.

    AT&T announced explicitly a few months ago that it would begin actively throttling the download speeds of unlimited data plan users one they hit the 3Gb mark each month – even though most of the other major U.S. carriers operate similar policies.

    AT&T and Verizon have been making secondary market spectrum acquisitions while also investing in new technologies to help manage data traffic. AT&T initiated 18 small spectrum deals in 2011. Verizon is seeking FCC approval for a controversial deal under which it would acquire spectrum from a group of cable TV companies.

    Together with Sprint Nextel, the third-largest U.S. mobile operator, and T-Mobile USA, both telecom companies are also investing in technologies designed to mitigate the risk of data overload on their networks. This will enable them to offload data from their cell networks on to unregulated WiFi connections and hotspots.

    “WiFi is a very attractive option for offloading data traffic,” Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel’s chief executive, told the CTIA conference.

    All the main network operators are also deploying small cell and so-called Distributed Antenna Systems in heavy traffic areas such as sports stadiums and downtown urban areas. These devices – some of which fit in the palm of a hand – are making much more efficient use of wireless spectrum than the traditional big cell towers.

    “AT&T is using innovative network technologies to help maximize existing capacity,” says John Donovan, AT&T’s chief technology officer.

    AT&T has turned to self-optimizing network (SON) technology developed by Intucell, an Israeli start-up, which uses software to monitor for congestion. It then adjusts the transmission power of each cell in the network to deliver the optimum coverage.

    Industry executives warn that such initiatives provide only a partial solution as demand for mobile Internet shows no signs of slowing. They say that unless more spectrum is made available over the longer term, the rise in smartphone use, the expansion of mobile Internet services and the economic benefits the industry generates could be checked.

    “The mobile Internet has reached a tipping point,” said Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Mobility’s chief executive. Like his colleagues, he warns that the industry desperately needs more spectrum, and soon.
    Griffin2012 likes this.
    05-10-12 06:29 AM
  2. sleepngbear's Avatar
    So ironic that the carriers doing all the crying are still pushing the most data-hungry, do-everything media consumption devices over all others. I'd have no pity for them were it not for the fact that my service will suffer along with everyone else's, even though I'm probably among the lower-volume data users.

    Maybe instead of more spectrum, the industry needs to rethink the services it markets and how it markets them. But it won't; it will keep overtaxing the current infrastructure until it breaks, and then push the price of fixing it down to the powerless consumer.
    Last edited by sleepngbear; 05-10-12 at 07:39 AM.
    Mystic205, kbz1960 and grover5 like this.
    05-10-12 07:36 AM
  3. Mystic205's Avatar
    The benefits of RIM's compressed network have always been there, and are played at their highest advantage when the network connections to the user are limited in capability. You will see a reasonable correlation of RIM success and market penetration with 2G/EDGE data, but then when 3G had complete coverage in the USA, then the market share of RIM started to fall as consumers did what they do best..consume. This cycle would appear to be repeating itself in emerging markets.

    So, the congestion/demand scenario discussed mirrors the identical situation the carriers had with dial-up modems... where sooner or later, something had to give.. and the carriers HAD the the opportunity to be network efficient and far sighted, but chose not to do so until cable modems started to get rolled out... ie they did not act, they were forced to react.

    Carriers were proven to neither be far-sighted nor clear thinking in the case of DSL and i see no reason for them to change now.... after all, their competition has exactly the same problems.. there is no need to act in a structural and strategic manner.

    Consumers drive the market. Period. So, for the success of RIM devices they need to stand on their own merits as data efficiency is a moot point for an individual consumer, and this will continue to be the case...and as the network service offered by RIM is competitively hampered by its solid link to BB devices and its associated cost per user (lost carrier revenue). Clearly carriers have no motivation to reduce revenue.

    So, the premise that RIM can benefit from a perceived congestion crunch i feel is a bit of a stretch...the cat is out of the bag on "assumed use" and so now capped plans are here to stay, and they will get more aggressive...but still currently users are not motivated to be data efficient and the carriers are not motivated to lose revenue.

    For RIM to be a network solution to congestion it must cater to the network.. not just the fractional percentage that is BB.. an intriguing idea that i am sure RIM has considered behind closed doors.
    05-10-12 08:08 AM
  4. Griffin2012's Avatar
    Thanks for posting the article. It will be interesting to see if the networks start pushing Blackberry again in an attempt to alleviate some of the data congestion. I agree with you sleepngbear, the carriers are their own worst enemy. They are pushing everyone into smart-phones (including the elderly) for higher revenues to offset the markdowns they take on the hardware. The carriers greed is now coming back to bite them in the ! I think the data crunch coupled with BB10 will create an environment that benefits RIM's long range profitability.
    05-10-12 08:17 AM
  5. stackberry369's Avatar
    There is no spectrum crunch,the big 3 have plenty but aren't using it.GREED is the problem.
    Premium1 and grover5 like this.
    05-10-12 08:26 AM
  6. lnichols's Avatar
    Verizon and AT&T are sitting on plenty of unused spectrum, whining constantly that they don't have enough, and buying up whatever becomes available. FCC need to implement stricter policies that if you buy it you have to use it or lose it by a certain time. They sometimes do this, but seems like they never do it to Ma Bell or her child. I just find it amusing that they encourage high data use then complain that they are being overran by it. That combined with profits being hurt by iPhone subsidies tells you all you need to know about the carriers.
    kbz1960, Premium1 and grover5 like this.
    05-10-12 09:05 AM
  7. CranBerry413's Avatar
    The carriers are obsessed with the idea of Control. That's why they push 2 year contracts, and that's why they complain about spectrum.

    It is interesting to note, VZW has pused their 4G everywhere and is heck-bent on getting people to use it. Meanwhile AT&T is content to just let their HSDPA network be ridden into the Sunset. and gingerly getting people over to their 4G. I don't think either case is good for the consumer.

    The illusion of choice also really hurts because these larger carriers keep Cannibalizing other smaller regional carriers.
    05-10-12 09:13 AM
  8. lnichols's Avatar
    The carriers are obsessed with the idea of Control. That's why they push 2 year contracts, and that's why they complain about spectrum.

    It is interesting to note, VZW has pused their 4G everywhere and is heck-bent on getting people to use it. Meanwhile AT&T is content to just let their HSDPA network be ridden into the Sunset. and gingerly getting people over to their 4G. I don't think either case is good for the consumer.

    The illusion of choice also really hurts because these larger carriers keep Cannibalizing other smaller regional carriers.
    It is definitely about control. I'm very happy with my HSPA+ and don't want LTE until the technology has matured more and the chipsets in the handhelds too. Sounds like efficient chips should be available later this summer in quantity. The bigger issue with LTE is that frequencies it will use worldwide, and even in the US will be all over the place. Also don't expect LTE roaming from carrier to carrier to work anytime soon as both AT&T and Verizon are fighting to keep this from happening.
    05-10-12 09:25 AM
  9. CranBerry413's Avatar
    It is definitely about control. I'm very happy with my HSPA+ and don't want LTE until the technology has matured more and the chipsets in the handhelds too. Sounds like efficient chips should be available later this summer in quantity. The bigger issue with LTE is that frequencies it will use worldwide, and even in the US will be all over the place. Also don't expect LTE roaming from carrier to carrier to work anytime soon as both AT&T and Verizon are fighting to keep this from happening.
    One thing you really hit the nail on the head is the different frequencies for LTE. That has been in the works for years with Carriers looking for ways to create a "Walled Garden" for lack of a better term.

    Either way, Carriers are aware that phones find their way to other carriers regularly. When the Apple phone was released initially, people found a way to get it on T-Mobile's network. And that infuriated AT&T. This is not the 1st time it happened, but it is the time that probably broke the Camel's back. And that kind of choice is not what AT&T or any National Carrier wants.
    05-10-12 11:34 AM
  10. Premium1's Avatar
    The carriers are obsessed with the idea of Control. That's why they push 2 year contracts, and that's why they complain about spectrum.

    It is interesting to note, VZW has pused their 4G everywhere and is heck-bent on getting people to use it. Meanwhile AT&T is content to just let their HSDPA network be ridden into the Sunset. and gingerly getting people over to their 4G. I don't think either case is good for the consumer.

    The illusion of choice also really hurts because these larger carriers keep Cannibalizing other smaller regional carriers.
    That's because it is cheaper for verizon to have customers on their lte network and can have more customers on it than their 3g network.
    05-10-12 12:17 PM
  11. Mystic205's Avatar
    LTE is the current big con game.. with 21 distinct RF bands the concept of it being a "standard" is quite laughable...

    Here in the USA, I will not view LTE as "progress" until there are multi-LTE band radios and roaming agreements and despite the swagger of all the carriers it simply is not today widespread enough to be of any practical and reliable use...
    05-10-12 12:27 PM
  12. CranBerry413's Avatar
    That's because it is cheaper for verizon to have customers on their lte network and can have more customers on it than their 3g network.
    And that makes perfect sense. I'm sure that VWZ also gets to charge a better rate for it.
    05-10-12 01:45 PM
  13. morlock_man's Avatar
    Paratek :: Iconic Handsets, No Compromises

    Multi-LTE band capable radios? RIM bought that.

    Roaming agreements? Wait until the device drops.
    05-10-12 01:50 PM
  14. CranBerry413's Avatar
    Paratek :: Iconic Handsets, No Compromises

    Multi-LTE band capable radios? RIM bought that.

    Roaming agreements? Wait until the device drops.
    A good point that I completely forgot about.
    05-10-12 02:25 PM
  15. adrenaline_x's Avatar
    Verizon and AT&T are sitting on plenty of unused spectrum, whining constantly that they don't have enough, and buying up whatever becomes available. FCC need to implement stricter policies that if you buy it you have to use it or lose it by a certain time. They sometimes do this, but seems like they never do it to Ma Bell or her child. I just find it amusing that they encourage high data use then complain that they are being overran by it. That combined with profits being hurt by iPhone subsidies tells you all you need to know about the carriers.

    This plenty of spectrum that you are referring to are in the LTE bands and can only be used with LTE equipped devices.

    This is why they are pushing LTE so hard. Its not because of the speed increase the end user may notice when doing on their phone other then downloading large apps OTA.

    Alot of issues are happening in areas with high population density. Moving to LTE also means that the distance between Cell towers becomes alot smaller creating alot more smaller pockets with less devices connected within that packet.

    My understanding it LTE being a higher frequency allows for faster transmission speeds but also a drop in the distance the signal travels. This allows the carrier to break the number of devices connected to their network into smaller pools of devices connected to more towers. This reduces the congestion as the there are less devices connected to each tower creating more performance.

    Atleast this is how i understand it from a high level round table i was asked to partake in with rogers. Its not so much about the speed increase the the ability to break up devices into smaller pools accessing a bigger pool of towers that reduces the congestion OTA.
    Last edited by adrenaline_x; 05-10-12 at 04:32 PM.
    05-10-12 04:26 PM
  16. anon(1049620)'s Avatar
    Maybe instead of more spectrum, the industry needs to rethink the services it markets and how it markets them. But it won't; it will keep overtaxing the current infrastructure until it breaks, and then push the price of fixing it down to the powerless consumer.
    Agreed. When I saw ads for mobile TV I thought to myself "I'm sure glad they have the bandwidth. What happens when they don't."

    It's funny, in an industry that is so mature, you'd think you could find one company that really understands what brings in and RETAINS customers. It's not the devices (everyone offers great devices), it's the service. Offer great service, great CUSTOMER service, and you'll have 50% of the market within 5 years. Eliminate people LEAVING and let the other companies play the churn game, and eventually everyone stays with you. When I ask for a discount on a new phone after spending $150/month for the last 3 years, don't tell me you can't do it. Tell me you want my $5400 over the next 3 years and take a $300 hit on the phone. Idiots.

    No pity for carriers, sorry. I hope they pay an arm and a leg for that new spectrum.
    05-10-12 08:16 PM
  17. cgull's Avatar
    There is no spectrum crunch,the big 3 have plenty but aren't using it.GREED is the problem.

    This. A world with unlimited bandwidth equates to unlimited profits for the carriers. Particularly when the consumer is held captive in a usage based model and forced to buy devices loaded with bloat ware also monetized by the carriers.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9850 using Tapatalk
    05-11-12 12:32 AM
  18. adrenaline_x's Avatar
    This. A world with unlimited bandwidth equates to unlimited profits for the carriers. Particularly when the consumer is held captive in a usage based model and forced to buy devices loaded with bloat ware also monetized by the carriers.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9850 using Tapatalk

    This is not true.

    There are no more mobile spectrum available as it has all be auctioned in the use in the first few month of this year.

    Thats it.. Once they use it all they are done and will have to figure out how to maintain growth in their respective spectrum.

    The only way to do this is offer smaller pockets of cell coverage by doubling to trippling they cell towers in a given areas. There is a move to putting small range tower on street lamp in parks and street lamps to replace 1 traditional tower with 10s to 100s of smaller modern towers. The congestion is OTA to the towers. Not the Towers to the Gateways which are hard wired via fibre.

    I had no idea this was happening until i was lucky enough to be included in a rogers round table that addresses this.
    05-11-12 09:41 AM
  19. CranBerry413's Avatar
    This is not true.

    There are no more mobile spectrum available as it has all be auctioned in the use in the first few month of this year.

    Thats it.. Once they use it all they are done and will have to figure out how to maintain growth in their respective spectrum.

    The only way to do this is offer smaller pockets of cell coverage by doubling to trippling they cell towers in a given areas. There is a move to putting small range tower on street lamp in parks and street lamps to replace 1 traditional tower with 10s to 100s of smaller modern towers. The congestion is OTA to the towers. Not the Towers to the Gateways which are hard wired via fibre.

    I had no idea this was happening until i was lucky enough to be included in a rogers round table that addresses this.
    I'm not so sure how true that is...

    These are the Facts:

    Wireless Spectrum is A Finite Resource.
    We are Running out.

    As far as being completely out, that may vary by Country. Here in the US, our spectrum is owned and sold solely by the FCC. (I should Clarify, unused spectrum is. Used spectrum is owned and operated by the carriers. Who sometimes sell it.) I'm not sure how they operate in Au Canada, but I'm sure that they also have some sort of governing body. (My Canadian Brothers and Nationals, please feel free to enlighten me. ) And the the wireless traffic is leading to a loss in Spectrum.

    The US presently has a surplus. That is quickly changing. I can only hope that Visionaries like Mike L are heard and acted upon to preserve what we do have.
    05-11-12 10:55 AM
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