Two years ago I wrote this post about 4G mobile broadband challenging U.S. Mobile Carriers. Consumer and business demand continues as the carriers beef up efforts to supply faster wireless services. Why are U.S. mobile carriers so far behind wireless technologies? Why has it taken U.S. carriers so long to begin offering 4G broadband service? Why are Asia, Europe and other areas of the world ahead of the United States?
4G Mobile Broadband and LTE
Afzal Bajw, writing in Technologizer, says 4G mobile broadband, used in LTE wireless technology, is superior to Wimax. He also points out that the U.S. is far behind many countries with faster, more reliable mobile broadband.
“The U.S., a traditional leader in innovation and technological advancement, may struggle to adopt 4G as rapidly as other countries. Why? One reason is the difficulty of ramping up LTE during the recession. Another is the indecisiveness of U.S. industry heavyweights about next-generation standards. But even if the U.S.’s 4G future is somewhat murky, wireless connectivity is bound to evolve towards higher speed, greater traffic capacity and more reliable connections.”
Meanwhile, as reported by Reuters , AT&T is considering changing data charges for the iPhone and other smartphones:
“Ralph de la Vega, the head of AT&T Mobility, told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York on Tuesday that it would be costly for AT&T to cut the price of its unlimited Web data service, which currently costs at least $70 for iPhone users. Instead, AT&T could offer more limited Web surfing on cellphones for a lower fee, similar to its trial offer of 200 megabytes of data downloads for wireless netbook users ($40 a month in Atlanta and in Philadelphia.)
“‘Right now we continue to study what is the best thing that is available, not just from an iPhone point of view, but what you can do to stimulate additional demand,’” said de la Vega, who is responsible for all of AT&T’s consumer sales along with his role as chief executive of the mobile business.”
AT&T and the other carriers find themselves caught in the same catch-22: stimulate data demand and carriers make more money; but stimulate data demand without sufficient bandwidth and customers are unhappy.
4G Mobile Broadband Shortage
And it’s not just the iPhone and Android smartphones demand worldwide. Samsung and other major mobile phone manufacturers churn out dozens of new models to multiple carriers each month.
More data-intensive smartphones means greater demand for wireless bandwidth. While mobile carriers furiously construct towers, routers, switchers and other networking equipment, they struggle to meet customer demand.
Addendum: Gigaom reported (October, 2011) that mobile broadband may become unprofitable for the mobile carriers starting 2013. More to follow on MobileBeyond.