Towards a spectrum solution

Jan 05 2013, 00:59 IST
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SummaryThe concept of pooled spectrum has been examined for long.

than there are people in the world. As internet usage grows, these devices are supposed to grow too, and it will become as simple to use them as the TV. However, the use of internet for video-streaming, movies, social networking (Facebook,Twitter and the like), Web 3.0, etc, is increasing the demand for bandwidth. It has to be understood that the internet was not initially designed for all these usages, but only for surfing, and the new usage would lead to a changed internet design. Currently, the multiple formats, devices and protocols limit the quality of visual experience. Let’s take movies. They are bandwidth hungry, and the way internet works is different from TV. Every time somebody watches a movie, there is a computer somewhere that sends it. If the movie is in higher quality, it might have 10 times as many tracks. In TV, you send your TV show to the satellite, which beams it down and it does not matter how many watch it, the cost is the same. It does not matter what bandwidth they have at home, it works. On the internet, every different device costs money. The last-mile bandwidth is not the same everywhere. You have to code in different formats and every additional user costs money. Entrepreneurs can find the most viable route for such activities if we move to converged/unified licensing, and coordinate routing on TV broadcasting/ broadband use.

People expect a mobile device to work just as fast as their laptop. That is not going to be easy because the cellular networks were not built for the internet; they were built for voice, and voice has very low bandwidth. A typical web page today requires much more than 10 times the bandwidth, and viewers expect to see it faster. That is very, very hard to do because there is not much capacity in the networks. All websites are about three times slower on cellular devices. The time it takes to download a page on mobiles is like what it took back in the dark ages of the internet in 2001. Our goal on mobile is instant access. This would require enormous work, new logarithms and sharing norms, etc.

The future is exciting if we move to pooled spectrum/converged or unified licences.

The author is former disinvestment secretary, power, and chairman, Trai

This concludes the two-part series

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