When I started out selling telecommunications services at MCI a long time ago, the professionals managing data networks for large companies would ask me about MCI’s ability to provide ever increasing amounts of network bandwidth at an affordable price. You see, employees for the first time ever were using their own personal computers to create information, access information, and then share information with their co-workers – who also had personal computers. There were so many people sharing information that originated on computers, the bandwidth needed to carry all this data just exploded.
The managers at these companies were concerned because they were the unfortunate people who had to take the calls from angry employees who couldn’t do work because of “Network Problems”.
My response was “Don’t worry! Bandwidth is like a potato chip: eat all you want because we’ll just make more”
Back then my glib statement was essentially true. However, it’s not true now when it comes to wireless bandwidth – particularly the bandwidth used by our mobile phones. Wireless bandwidth is not like a potato chip because companies aren’t making more. In fact, there is very little left for them to use. And as one of millions of businesses whose livelihood is 100% dependent on the wireless bandwidth, we have to be concerned and you should be as well.
Believe it or not, the U.S. Federal Government owns 60% of the available wireless bandwidth and TV companies hold about another 30% of it. Companies like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T own approximately 10%.
Only 10% of available wireless bandwidth carries all of the voice and data our phones produce. Is that enough?
Morgan Reed from ACT – The Association for Competitive Technology ( SheerID is a member) told me there are around 328 million devices connected to wireless networks – more than the entire population of the United States and that mobile data usage increased 8,000% in the past four years. Common sense suggests that this kind of increase in data can’t last if more wireless capacity doesn’t become available. To learn more, visit ACTonline.org.
Scott Johnson, a Managing Partner in New Atlantic Ventures (NAV), an early-stage venture capital fund, recently wrote that “mobile apps accessing the cloud comprise the greatest platform for innovation ever – they can actually automate and vastly improve the way we live.” I believe this statement is true and obviously will remain true as long as developers and mobile users have fast, reliable wireless connections. But remember, wireless bandwidth is not like a potato chip.