4G Americas calls for collaboration to deal with dearth of U.S. spectrum

The United States has less spectrum per smartphone subscriber than other developed nations, driving an urgent need for additional frequency allocations as well as the use of spectrum-conserving solutions, according to trade association 4G Americas.

The group pointed to a study from CTIA, which reported that as of mid-2011 the United States served 788,000 subscribers per MHz of spectrum, nearly double the efficiency of any other country, and yet the nation has only 50 MHz of usable spectrum in the pipeline. "There is no myth about the severe shortage of spectrum available in the U.S. for future growth and innovation," said 4G Americas.

"With limited amounts of spectrum and growing mobile broadband data demands, today's networks are increasingly becoming stressed to capacity," said Chris Pearson, 4G Americas president. "More spectrum is the ultimate answer for network congestion as growth in mobile broadband will come to a hard stop without it.

The trade group recently issued a report addressing some short-term and long-term solutions that can be implemented by application developers, mobile OS vendors and end users to address increasing signaling and network data traffic congestion while the industry awaits new spectrum allocations. The paper advocates implementation of traffic offloading to Wi-Fi and small cells. It also calls for collaboration among industry players on application design, device platforms and feature activations

"Innovative usage of network resources by all stakeholders is needed to address the predicted growth in data and signaling traffic through one cohesive ecosystem family," said Pearson. "This will require collaboration between application developers to use device resources judiciously, device manufacturers to leverage radio and device capacity by conserving features efficiently, service providers to manage their network resources to optimize traffic flow and handle varying traffic needs and network vendors to drive efficiencies into network equipment."

Citing research from mobile industry strategist Chetan Sharma, 4G Americas said some major U.S. markets are already under severe stress "and operators are optimizing for spectrum rather than for growth." The group said Sharma's research has shown that smartphone penetration in the U.S. is the highest among large Western markets, particularly with high-end super phones based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, and mobile traffic in the U.S. market is expected to expand at least 15-20 times by 2015.

4G Americas also said multiple reports indicate that more than 75 percent of wireless devices in the U.S. are broadband-capable.

For more:
- see this 4G Americas release

Related articles:
Sprint's Hesse: Regulators will be open to more industry consolidation
FCC presses Verizon for details on proposed 700 MHz spectrum sale
AT&T, U.S. Cellular buying 700 MHz licenses for LTE
Operators' best efforts ease, but don't solve, spectrum pressures
CTIA: U.S mobile data traffic surged 123% in 2011

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