What Price 4G?
The Mobile Broadband Session dealt mostly with the rather vague topic of 4G. Everyone agreed that 4G remains an imprecise term. Is it 100 Mbit/s, as the ITU says? Or is it, using Farpoint Group ’s definition, an all-IP, wireless, mobile, broadband (multi-megabit, but otherwise unspecified in terms of throughput) network with support for time-bounded services? I obviously like the latter, since I don’t think a real customer is going to see 100 Mbit/s, at least at a reasonable price, on a wireless wide-area network anytime soon.
Which brings me to the thought I was left with at the end of my session -- can we really afford 4G? Given the cost of licensed spectrum and yet another wireless network build-out, how much would we have to charge a given user for 2-4 Mbit/s, let alone 100? Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) could pull off some really good deals with its WiMax service, since it didn’t pay much for its spectrum. As for the LTE/UMB crowd, such may not be possible. The consensus of the panel is that we will see 4G in the 2012-1015 timeframe -- but at what price?
— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung