OnQ Blog

Higher Mobile Broadband Potential Through Stronger Networks

While my mobile devices in Hong Kong  compliment the range of fixed network options  at my disposal, it is in the emerging markets where we will continue to see users having greater reliance on mobile gadgets. By 2014, 75 percent of total broadband connections will be made via a mobile device. Just last year in Indonesia, 70 percent of all Internet access hits were made from a mobile phone (source: Yahoo!).

Our other Achilles heel is spectrum. It may be air to some, but it is very much a finite resource and we do need to allocate it wisely.

Firstly, we need to  understand the demands and future requirements better to make informed decisions on allocating and assigning the spectrum in the coming months and years .   We all have to be more inquisitive:  how is the radio spectrum being used;   what shifts in demand and applications are taking place; and what might the future look like.   Given the  scarcity of spectrum, we must strive to use as efficiently as possible and maximize the utility of this finite resource. 

With the growing demands for access to the radio spectrum and ongoing technological advancements in the provision of services (e.g., digital television) , we  need to review frequency assignments a-=nd continue to pursue efficient allocations and assignment of the resource. Sound spectrum management  enables manufacturers to build devices that function in as many markets as possible so users can benefit from the lower costs associated with larger scale. For example, th is could mean the difference between paying $200 for a device instead of $2,000.

And, finally, we also want to make sure that we are allocating and assigning sufficient spectrum to operators and not constraining the development of markets, which would adversely affect consumers.  With regard to advanced mobile wireless technologies such as LTE, new mobile applications supported by LTE will only be realised if larger swaths of spectrum, such as 15 or 20Mhz, or more are made available. Simply, if you want to push more ‘stuff’ down a pipe at a given time, then you need to have a bigger pipe.  Given that many markets throughout Southeast Asia have an abundance of operators, unfortunately not all will end up realising their LTE dreams. Some level of industry consolidation in certain markets seems inevitable and perhaps some level of government action is required to make it conducive for operators to merge.

Indeed, the mobile phone has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings, and indeed too network technology has also moved at a blistering pace.  Yet, it is the non-technical issues that may very well hamper us if we do not address this quickly.

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