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Friday, January 27, 2023

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Walt Mossberg on bandwidth in the US…and oh, yeah, the iPhone

There are lots of people linking this morning to a video in which Walt Mossberg talks about the possible future of TV on the Internet, bandwidth in the US, and yes, the iPhone. While everyone seems to be all excited about Walt Mossberg’s prediction that a 3G iPhone is emminent, I find his words on bandwidth issues in the US much more on target and important.

This is a big issue.

It’s not just about bandwidth to watch TV as he talks about. We need real bandwidth to enable new uses of video streams. We need the bandwidth over landlines. We need to bandwidth over the air. Unfortunately the limited model we’re using so far is only going to get us so far. This is one reason I was so hoping Google–and for that matter Intel and Microsoft–would step in with the recent spectrum auction. We need more competition. We need to spur innovation.

Walt Mossberg is proposing that the government step in because bandwidth and view it as something important to the nation like the highway system is. I’m not so sure if this the way to go, but I agree with his focus on the importance. Done well it will enable a new wave of innovation and businesses.

One additional area that Walt doesn’t get into and is also important is on how wireless carriers are charging for bandwidth.

First, the regulate it way to much–excluding this or that use. They shouldn’t. Broadcasting a low-quality video stream should not be “against the rules.” And what if you want to “serve up content” from your cell phone? Why not?

Second, the rates are way too high–and the pricing model is biased towards one plan for one device per person. This is become more and more of a problem, especially as MIDs and other devices make their way into the marketplace. They will have connectivity, along with your notebook and cell phone. So what are you going to do, buy three separate 2-year broadband contracts, one for each device? You’ve got to be kidding. Not only would it become a management nightmare, people aren’t going to afford it.

If I were Intel I’d be doing everything in my power to solve the bandwidth power. They’ve dabbled a bit, as Google has, but they’re not stepping in far enough. It’s a big deal, because it’s going to throttle back their potential sales if they leave things the way they are.

People are going to purchase fewer connected devices, because they won’t be able to afford to connect them.

Here’s where Walt Mossberg might be correct. If the government steps in and opens things up, it would be a huge shot into the arm for connected devices. We’d see a plethora of new businesses and a bunch of new rising stars. So maybe he’s right.

I sure wish Microsoft, Google, and so on would lead in this area more. It’s time to ruffle some feathers.

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