The CTIA says wireless providers are in a desperate race against the clock and need more spectrum, yet their very own numbers reveal a different story. Tim Farrar of Telecom, Media, and Finance Associates, says wireless data growth is actually slowing.
While the demand for video on mobile devices may be there, monetizing that demand depends on being able to deliver video over wireless networks efficiently and economically enough to allow scalable business models to emerge. For now, though, and even for the medium-term future, bandwidth constraints impose limits not just on data consumption but on monetization strategies for premium video.
Owners of the new 4G-enabled iPad are waking up to an unpleasant wireless hangover. All that video streaming enabled by the new high-speed wireless connection is eating up users’ monthly data allotment in no time flat, according to the Wall Street Journal this morning. That’s leaving proud new iPad owners facing steep overage charges if they want to keep using their device for the rest of the month. The situation isn’t like to improve anytime soon, either. Verizon Wireless, one of Apple’s two 4G partners, is warning in regulatory filings that it could run out of 4G capacity by 2013, before the expected mobile video boom has even fully boomed. CDN’s like Akamai are working on solutions for optimizing wireless networks, but they’re a long way from being implemented. Apart from what it means for consumers, the limits on wireless capacity could become a serious constraint on app developers and content owners hoping to leverage the growing number of iPads and other tablets in people’s hands. Currently, 9 in 10 tablets sold are Wi-Fi only, which makes them less than fully mobile for data-intensive applications.
AT&T is now claiming that its mobile data traffic is doubling every year, rather than increasing at a more modest 40 percent annual rate. The distinction is important because the faster AT&T’s networks become overloaded the more pressure it faces to find more spectrum.
Sending a bit over a wireless network is 200 times more expensive than sending a bit over wireline, which explains some of the high costs and limits of wireless data plans. How can operators drive down these prices so wireless doesn’t lose its luster?
Introduced in 2009, Novatel Wireless’s MiFi sales topped the 3 million mark on Monday. The big number is no surprise because of the MiFi’s simplicity and utility: press a button and share a mobile broadband connection over Wi-Fi. Smartphones and software could mute future sales, however.
As network operators drop unlimited mobile broadband data plans, consumers continue to shift their data needs to free or low-cost Wi-Fi hot spots: nearly 90 percent are hitting hot spots at home and on the go. Once a lowly home network standard, Wi-Fi is king of the road.
Wi-Fi provider Boingo Wireless is set to go public Wednesday in what could be a good measure of how hot the wireless boom is. The company is seeking to raise some $75 million with its debut, which comes as IPOs are growing hot again.
Seven Networks is leveraging its push email technology to create a new system for app data syncing that can help reduce traffic from smartphones and mobile devices by up to 70 percent. The solution has big implications for carriers and for mobile users.
European wireless carriers are resurrecting a failed wireline move and trying to extract more money from the likes of Google, Apple and other web and mobile companies. The operators say the costs of building out their networks to handle growth in traffic is outpacing data revenues.