AT&T: Yep, Wireless is Different

By: Chris Crum - August 14, 2010

The net neutrality debate sparked (most recently) by Google and Verizon earlier this week continues. Now AT&T has weighed in, and unsurprisingly it appears to agree with the companies.

One of the biggest controversies of the Google/Verizon policy proposal is that wireless is being treated differently. AT&T says, "Wireless is different." In a post on the company’s public policy blog, they write:

Data traffic on wireless networks continues to explode.  And this is not only being driven by the ever-increasing use of smartphones.  The per unit sales of wirelessly enabled portable devices (think netbooks, E-books, E-tablets and navigation devices) is expected to grow from approximately 6M in 2008 to 86M in 2014.  It’s not surprising that mobile broadband data traffic is on a similar trajectory.  The 90,000 terabytes of traffic per month that was carried on wireless networks in 2009 will mushroom to 3,600,000 TBs/month by 2014.

iPhone 4 Pitted against this insatiable demand are wireless networks of finite and shared resources.  Wireless networks simply cannot provide the same amount of capacity as wireline networks (i.e., DSL and cable).  Fiber is to a wireline network what spectrum is to a wireless network, and as a transmission medium, the two simply do not compare.  The theoretical top speed of a LTE carrier is 100 Mbps.  By contrast, theoretical transmission speeds on fiber can reach as high as 25,000,000 Mbps.  The 5 extra zeros tell the story. 

We are constantly striving to increase the efficiency of our spectrum resources, but the amount of available spectrum in any given market is finite.  And while we regularly split cell sectors and add additional cell towers, there are very real limits placed on cell site construction by zoning and local approval boards.

AT&T says its doing its part by accelerating network efficiencies through network upgrades, capitalizing on complementary network infrastructure like WiFi and microcells, and deploying more cell sites while adding capacity to backhaul facilities.

The company also says that policymakers can help by reallocating more spectrum for CMRS use, and protecting wireless broadband networks from "onerous new net neutrality regulations". AT&T says that’s vital to the growth of the industry.


Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • Jack

    Thought? AT&T is full of it as they have always been.

    So they’ll make nine billion instead of fourteen billion if Net Neutrality passes. That is what they are worried about.

    I say pass Net Neutrality for the people. AT&T be damned.

  • Guest

    AT&T and all the wireless carriers hide behind the Telecom Act of 1996 when it comes to zoning their sites. They can do this because the act states that all governing agencies must treat all telecommunication companies the same when they are providing essentially the same services so as to not favor one over the other. How can it be fair to not force the wireless carriers to follow the net neutrality regulations when competing services will be forced to follow the regulations.

    We are so far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to wireless networks. The carriers blame it on the regulatory bodies… the real reason is the carriers. Verizon Wireless spends more time trying to eliminate technical advancements so that they protect their revenue stream. Why do you think they had WiFi capabilities removed from the Samsung handsets that were sold in the U.S. ? This went on for 2 1/2 years before they realized they were losing sales. I hope the FCC gets some guts and starts to really look at these companies and really starts to regulate them.