The sky's the limit

As if the current string of bad news isn't enough, now three federal agencies say there won't be enough spectrum available for mobile wireless Internet services.

There goes the market for 3G wireless.

Service providers aren't buying the old stuff because data and packets are in, and circuits and voice are out. But they're not buying the new stuff either, because they don't have the capital to build out their packet data networks.

And they most certainly won't buy the new stuff if there's no capacity -- like, say, space in the wireless spectrum for 3G mobile Internet access -- to offer service.

What are we to do?

According to a story in Monday's Wall Street Journal, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission and the Pentagon say there isn't enough space in the radio spectrum to accommodate all of the companies planning to use or provision 3G services. The Commerce Department and FCC said only 45 MHz is available, out of 140 MHz studied, and that it would costs the industry $2.1 billion to open it up.

The FCC, meanwhile, said 3G mobile would disrupt services in the 190-MHz space now used by schools and fixed wireless providers. And to compound matters, some service providers say they need the new spectrum for 3G, while others say they can support 3G just fine with available spectrum.

Regardless of the outcome, we have another warning bell to consider. In addition to little money and little demand, there may be little space.

With Internet access, the sky really is the limit.

This story, "The sky's the limit" was originally published by Network World.

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