iPad Gives Another Nudge to Spectrum Reallocation
February 9, 2010
WASHINGTON: The recently introduced Apple iPad is becoming
another salvo in the battle over spectrum allocation. The FCC’s Phil Bellaria
said the iPad has “set off a new round of reports of networks overburdened by a
data flow they were not built to handle.” Writing at the FCC’s broadband blog site, Bellaria said, the
problems were similar to the congestion caused when AOL allowed unlimited
Internet access in 1996
“For months users had trouble connecting and, once they did connect, experienced
frequent service outages. The FCC even held hearings on the problem.”
The congestion revealed an “intense latent demand for Internet access,” he
said. The same phenomena on wireless networks is indicative of similar intense
demand that’s only going to get moreso, Bellaria said.
“Widespread use of smartphones, 3G-enabled netbooks, and now, perhaps, the iPad
and its competitors demonstrate that wireless broadband will be a hugely
important part of the broadband ecosystem as we move ahead,” he said. “With the
iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we
must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers
clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us
competitive in the global broadband economy.”
The congested network in question likely belongs to AT&T, the Dallas
Business Journal said. AT&T is the exclusive network provider for
the iPad. the Journal said AT&T’s
networks have been the target of performance complaints, and has acknowledged
problems in New York and San Francisco.
Neither the Journal nor Bellaria
present any qualified data indicating that AT&T’s network issues are a
result of it not having adequate spectrum. AT&T picked up 227 regional
spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz auction in 2008, when it also acquired
spectrum in the same block through its acquisition of Aloha Partners.
The blog entry, “iPad: Heavy Traffic Ahead,” and responses to it, is available here.