Three questions the “data tsunami” narrative

| PolicyTracker

Mark Falcon, head of economic regulation at UK mobile operator Three, told the Telecoms Regulation Forum in London last week that he did not really believe predictions of exponential growth in demand for mobile data. Few others believe them either, he added. He argued that these projections do not take in to account the huge CAPEX that MNOs would need to bear in order to support such a dramatic growth in data; and that MNOs should given special regulatory support to mitigate against these costs.

It’s rare to hear anyone from a mobile operator say anything like this. MNOs (and regulators) usually argue that demand for mobile data will grow enormously, and that more frequencies must be allocated to IMT if a so-called “spectrum crunch” is to be avoided.

Later at the same event, for example, Telefonica Europe’s chief regulatory officer Nick Blades said the spectrum crunch would be so severe that neither small cells nor Wi-Fi offload would be enough to counter it.

Doubts persist about the likely scale of the problem. One consultant thinks the ITU’s estimates for future spectrum use are exaggerated, while a recent “user’s guide” to spectrum suggested that concerns about the issue were overblown.

 The question is, will this scepticism about data forecasts undermine attempts to secure more spectrum for mobile at WRC-15? Or will delegates agree to disagree on the projections but still accept the need for more mobile bandwidth?

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