On Friday, April 13, we released our semi-annual survey and we found something to be scared of in the results. But let me take a step back before I get to the scary part and say that it was astounding that the results showed a 123 percent increase in wireless data traffic!
To try to wrap one’s head around 866.7 billion megabytes is a challenge. To put the wireless data traffic of 2010 (388 billion megabytes) compared with 2011 (866.7 billion megabytes) into perspective, if you were walking and listening to five songs per mile and each song lasted for four minutes:
- In 2010, you would walk 77,601,961,033 miles, or the equivalent of 3,116,419 times around the world for 2,952,890 years and listen to 97 billion songs.
- In 2011, you would walk 173,364,056,929 miles, or the equivalent of 6,962,132 times around the world for 6,596,806 years and listen to 216.7 billion songs.
Even though we don't offer projections for future numbers, others have predicted that wireless data usage in 2012 will increase over 2011 numbers. In order to handle this kind of significant demand by consumers to access the mobile Internet anytime and anywhere, our members must have access to spectrum.
So what’s scary about these numbers is that we don’t have time to wait for more spectrum, we keep moving now. Since spectrum is a finite resource, it must be used in the most efficient and effective means possible.With a number of license holders that are sitting on unused or underutilized spectrum, they must either become more efficient users or their spectrum should be auctioned so those who want to purchase and use it may do so.
According to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan that was released in 2010, the wireless industry would have 300 MHz by 2015 and an additional 200 MHz by 2020 for a total of 500 MHz. While the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act was an important down payment toward these goals, the industry needs more spectrum.
Yes, Americans are using mobile devices a lot. We love to talk, text and access the wireless Internet. But where we’re seeing the explosion of growth is in the “Internet of Things” (aka mobile to mobile or M2M). It’s one of the most exciting areas in the wireless industry that has already proven its value, but the potential is astounding. In 2010, Analysys Mason reported there were 62 million M2M devices worldwide. By 2020, they projected this number would grow to more than 16 billion.
Last fall at our show, we sponsored a report from BSR that took a look at how wireless-enabled products and services were driving billions of dollars in energy savings and reshaping how American industry, agriculture and the public sector approach sustainability. The report’s findings were organized by four key focus areas:
- Transport: Moving People and Goods — Better fleet management through wireless technology could cut the amount of time that trucks idle, reducing fuel cost per truck by $3,600 and eliminating nine million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
- Utilities: Powering Our Future — If smart grids were rolled out nationally, they could eliminate 360 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of the emissions produced by 68 million passenger vehicles or the annual energy use of 30 million U.S. homes.
- Agriculture: Nourishing People — Wider application of precision agriculture could reduce water use by 11-50 percent.
- Public Sector: Providing Services — Smart traffic applications, if deployed on a wider scale, could cut fuel consumption on urban roadways by as much as 20 percent nationwide.
In order to be able to continue to see these kinds of significant financial and environmental savings, the wireless industry needs more spectrum. We cannot ignore the tremendous benefits that we are already seeing from the “Internet of Things.”
But that’s not all of the benefits that more spectrum for the wireless industry will provide. It will also provide our country with significant boost to our economy:
- For every $1 invested in wireless broadband, it will create an additional $7-$10 for GDP.
- Continued 4G network build out could mean as much as 771,000 jobs, $53 billion in investments and $151 billion in GDP growth by 2016.
- Wireless jobs paid >50% higher than the national average of other production workers
When the U.S. wireless industry has access to more spectrum, everyone wins. Let’s get moving.