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Where does mobile fit into the future?

April 2, 2010

Quick, anyone reading this still get their TV over the air? According to reports, only 10 percent of U.S. households now receive their TV signal over the air. We’ve heard about how TV stations are hurting. Profitability is down.

Now it appears, the FCC wants to take their ‘air’. If you read the National Broadband Plan (and you maybe should, because we’ll delivering communications over ‘broadband’ for years to come), growth is insane:

“3G network services are in full bloom. Data traffic on AT&T’s mobile network, driven in part by iPhone usage, is up 5,000% over the past 3 years,5 a compound annual growth rate of 268%. Verizon Wireless says it, too, has recently experienced substantial data growth in its network.6 According to Cisco, North American wireless networks carried approximately 17 petabytes per month in 2009,7 an amount of data equivalent to 1,700 Libraries of Congress. By 2014, Cisco projects wireless networks in North America will carry some 740 petabytes per month, a greater than 40-fold increase. Other industry analysts forecast large proportional increases (see Exhibit 5-A).8

AT&T’s network has risen 5000% in the last three years. Blame the iPhone.

And therein lies a trend that will not reverse. Namely, if you want to check the weather, will you look at your Mobile phone or turn on the TV and check the Weather Channel?

Where will you hear ‘breaking news’ first, on Twitter or your local news channel. Indeed, when news can be found, shared, and reported as it happens, what need do people have for the nightly news?

Then again, from the same report:

The growth of wireless broadband will be constrained if government does not make spectrum available to enable network expansion and technology upgrades. In the absence of sufficient spectrum, network providers must turn to costly alternatives, such as cell splitting, often with diminishing returns. If the U.S. does not address this situation promptly, scarcity of mobile broadband could mean higher prices, poor service quality, an inability for the U.S. to compete internationally, depressed demand and, ultimately, a drag on innovation.”

(Emphasis mine)

So why does this matter? As marketers, we need a vibrant mobile internet. If people think the internet is important, (and by how many people search Importance of the Internet, I suspect they do), then mobile is equally important because it’s a channel into the internet.

And if people try to get online via their mobiles, but can’t because of the lack of broadband, that will have implications for all of us marketers.

So what do you think? Where does mobile and broadband fit into the future?

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