Do you ever hear of the spectrum/bandwidth crunch in Boise Idaho?









With apologies to readers from Boise Idaho – from what I hear it’s a great place!

Prior to working with mobile, I used to be a consultant for a global US consultancy.  There was an interesting dynamic. Everyone wanted to work in NY city or San Francisco. But no one wanted to work in ‘Boise Idaho’!  Being not from the USA, I had to look up a map to see that Boise is the capital (and most populous city) of the U.S. state of Idaho.  Its current population is 205,671 (it may have been even lower then ..)

But you get the picture – small, middle of nowhere etc etc ..

No wonder the USA based consultants avoided getting assigned to projects in Boise Idaho ..

They all preferred NY and SF

Fast forward a few years when I work in mobile.

Everyone talks of the spectrum crunch – with NY and SF being examples of cities with issues..

But Did you hear of a bandwidth crunch Boise idaho?

There is a collective delusion within the telecom industry

The Operators want bandwidth – so they paint a picture of a Bandwidth crunch

The analysts and the infrastructure providers want to please the operators to get more business

So, they also paint a spectre of impending doom

The whole industry speaks with one voice (for once!)

Here’s why the bandwidth crunch may be a mirage

a)      The key driver for greater spectrum is the increase in the number of smart phones. However,  just because people buy smart phones, does not mean they will use them for smartphone based data-heavy applications. In fact, a vast majority of people may use smart phones simply to make voice calls and SMS.

b)      The second belief for the bandwidth crunch lies in the steep uptake of data heavy applications – especially video and games. But here is a question, have you ever seen anyone watching extended video on a cellular connection? Most people when they watch video, use WiFi.  Apps like Apple facetime are also based on WiFi(not cellular). They don’t impact the cellular network. And games? Have you ever seen anyone play games over cellular?

c)       Current high data charges and caps/throttling of bandwidth will mean that customers will NOT adopt these services since they have been bitten in the past and alternate free (wifi/fixed) options exist.

d)      When launched, LTE(4G) also has slabs and / or extra costs. Even the bandwidth hungry Korean population does not get ‘unlimited’  4G with Korean operator KT. In Hungary, over the limit LTE speeds are throttled

e)      So, in reality, we will see bandwidth/spectrum issues only

             In cities(like NY, SF, London)

            At prime time (lunchtime)

            In downtown centers (Times square, Oxford circus).

Not in Boise :)

     But this is a different (localised) problem – and not a generic spectrum shortage.

     If it were an ‘across the board’ problem we would ALSO have a spectrum / bandwidth crunch in downtown


But as far as I know, it is serene .. (pictured!).

Makes you wonder: What if you called a bandwidth crunch and  no one came?

Image source: CNBC – Boise Idaho