Claims of looming spectrum crunch said to be overblown


Wireless providers are clamoring for spectrum, and have pushed loud, long and hard for repurposing in the television band. But a report says the claims appear to be overblown. Growth in mobile data streaming is slowing, partly because of the providers themselves.

The story comes from GigaOM.

It says that growth in data use is less than is being claimed, and the trend is that it is slowing down, rather than speeding up.

Describing the pace of growth, GigaOM’s Tim Farrar wrote, “Counter to the CTIA’s spin, this represents growth of just 21 percent, a dramatic slowdown from the 54 percent growth in total traffic seen between the first and second half of 2011. Even more remarkably, on a per device basis (based on the CTIA’s total number of smartphones, tablets, laptops and modems, of which 131M were in use at the end of June), the first half of 2012 saw an increase of merely 3 percent in average wireless data traffic per cellphone-network connected device, compared to 29 percent growth between the first and second half of 2011 (and 20-plus percent in prior periods).”

The speculation is that datacaps imposed on mobile subscribers have caused them to be judicious in their use of their device of choice for that purpose.

Further speculation holds that smartphones have begun to approach the market saturation point, so it is unlikely that a surge of growth will come simply from the addition of new users.

Farrar, the President of Telecom, Media and Finance Associates, concludes that in fact, there is no looming spectrum crunch at all.