It’s always a great thing when I find that I am not on my stilts in the desert alone, and that at least one other thinks as I do.

When I spoke out about the FCC Chairman being, in a word, insane, when stating that what is needed is more spectrum, I got no “attaboys” in the comments column, nor any personally by anyone I speak with. (Not that that would ever stop me…)

I must have been busy building a computer for myself yesterday when this was put up on Betanews. It is another view, not exactly like mine, but in total agreement that sometimes stealing from Peter to pay Paul is not a good idea.

“Throw more money at it.” That’s an old suggestion for trying to solve problems big and small, but it’s a solution that rarely works, because it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem in question. Despite knowing that it’s bad advice, the FCC has recently come up with a corollary to it: Throw more spectrum at it.

Recently, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined a plan to promote growth in the mobile communications sector, including a proposal to give mobile operators more spectrum. That’s bad.

Verizon Wireless is so anxious for mobile spectrum that it paid a staggering USD$19.6 billion in an FCC auction for “C-Block” 700 MHz spectrum in 2008.

AT&T has been criticized for its network’s seeming inability to handle the data traffic already generated by its exclusive iPhone. Apple recently announced that it sold 78% more iPhones in its 2009 fiscal year than in 2008.

The iPhone represents just 13.3% of the global smartphone market, and that global smartphone market was only 14.3% of the total mobile phone market in 2Q09, according to Gartner. That means we’re only at the start of what will be an ongoing mobile Web revolution as more — and smarter — phones come into consumers’ hands in the years ahead. Obviously, networks will buckle under the pressure. More spectrum, and more spectrum now, is the answer…or is it?

Spectrum is a finite resource. As with all finite resources, the best solution to any given problem may not be the one that throws more at it.

The number of people accessing the Web isn’t the issue. The content that people are accessing is what is causing network congestion today and potentially will cause bigger network problems in the near future.

The iPhone came to market promising the “real Web” on a mobile phone. The problem is that the “real Web” was translated as “the same Web sites you look at on your home or work PC.”

The iPhone and the army of smartphones that have followed in its wake can render a standard PC Web site. However, that means consumers are getting data-intensive Web sites that will take a long time to download and will likely not meet their on-the-go needs.

The mistake is thinking that the “real Web” is a single Web site designed for PCs. Instead, the “real Web” should understand what you need when and where you need it. A consumer on the go is likely not looking for an annual report or a photo-rich overview of a company’s history. Yet, many times, that’s the “real Web promise” that companies deliver — and it’s a promise that is overloading networks and monopolizing spectrum.

The author continues with a solution that, while benefitting his company a great deal, would still work, and makes sense to the logical mind.

There are many things that cannot be done today, and reasons why they should be. We should strive to do them. On the other hand, there are some things not done today, and they should be left undone because they make little sense to anyone who analyzes the situation.

In Star Trek terms – “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Definitely words to live by.


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