Excessive Streaming - Pressure on Airwaves

  • Femi Redwood
  • Ebru News
  • Sun Mar 4th 2012

U.S. mobile phone customers are facing some bad news. The cell phone industry is facing a spectrum crunch. That mean the nation is running out of airwaves needed to provide voice, text and Internet service to cellular companies.

What does this mean for the consumer? Industry insiders say it will cause an increase in dropped calls, slower data rates but a bigger monthly bill.

Wireless spectrum is the invisible airwaves that transmits all wireless signals. At this point, wireless carriers have enough spectrum to keep their networks running, but some say that bandwidth is running dangerously low. According to the Federal Communications Commission, America has a small spectrum surplus. But the government agency warns that at the current growth rate, the surplus can turn into a deficit as early as 2013.

Just how did we get here? Industry insiders say our thirst for applications, checking email and streaming videos are major contributors. Every time you use your phone's Internet, you are pulling from the spectrum.

Cellular companies are working on finding solutions. They have spent billions of dollars building new cell towers and buying spectrum from companies with an excess. Analysts say those costs will be transferred to the customer. Many mobile companies are also putting caps on data limits and throttling the speed of users considered to be "data hogs."

Mobile officials say customers can help relieve capacity by using the Wi-Fi connection on their smart phone.

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