Today, Mobile Future released an infographic, “Growing Demand for Wireless Spectrum,” that offers a graphic snapshot contrasting booming consumer demand for mobile with the small percentage of airwaves available to support that demand going forward.
As the infographic highlights, 330 million wireless subscriptions run on less than 16% of the airwaves best suited for mobile broadband as the U.S. government has assigned just 409.5 MHz of spectrum to support commercial wireless services. With the radio waves best suited for providing high speed, commercial wireless broadband services situated between 400 MHz and 3 GHz, that means wireless network operators have access to just less than 16 percent of these critical airwaves. A significant majority – nearly 85 percent – of the crucial spectrum needed to support consumer demand is occupied primarily by government agencies and television broadcasters.
With three billion networked devices expected in the U.S. by 2016 – translating to more than nine mobile devices for every man, woman and child – wireless providers are staggering to keep up with consumer demand. Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, for example, data traffic on AT&T’s network has increased 20,000%. During that same period, carriers have invested $133 billion on wireless infrastructure to support consumer demand. And there is no end in sight with Cisco predicting U.S. mobile data traffic will grow 16 fold from 2011 – 2016.
Yet, despite the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimate that mobile data demand will exceed available spectrum capacity by 2013, spectrum allocation for mobile has not kept pace.