-- New report finds that policymakers must act to prevent “broadband bottlenecks” and ensure adequate capacity for HD Video and other next generation apps --
Today’s Internet, especially with wireless access, allows us to connect easily over social media, have instant access to information, and increasingly use live, and mostly real-time, video. It’s been an amazing transformation over the past two decades, but – believe it or not – it pales in comparison with the promise around the corner, a promise enabled by Gigabit Wi-Fi. A new study by Plum Consulting predicts that Europe could reap more than €16.3 billion in future economic benefit if we take steps to facilitate the transition now.
Tomorrow, Internet video will be in HD, all the time, with no delay. And the applications will go well beyond talking to your friends, parents, or grandparents on your smartphone or tablet. HD wireless video will be in your child’s classroom. It will be in hospitals, in apartment buildings, and manufacturing facilities, at train stations, in airports and on the streets. The possibilities and applications are endless, and it will dramatically change the way people connect, collaborate, and live.
To speed this next wave of technological innovation, governments need to make smart choices now. Put simply, there are bottlenecks with today’s Wi-Fi that make the promise of HD video all the time, just that, a promise.
This is especially important in Europe, where the goal – as laid out in the European Digital Agenda – is to have 50% of households having access to Internet at 100 Mbps by 2020.
Governments need to make new, contiguous spectrum at 5 gigahertz available to make Gigabit Wi-Fi a reality. That’s the major conclusion of the new report by Plum Consulting entitled “Future-proofing Wi-Fi: The Case for More Spectrum.”
Specifically, the report finds that:
There’s simply not adequate contiguous Wi-Fi spectrum today to enable the technologies and applications that are coming around the corner. We all connect to Wi-Fi in our homes, coffee shops, and airports. Businesses use Wi-Fi for their internal networks and manufacturing lines. Wi-Fi has become a dominant form of internet access -- - by 2016, 60% of total Internet traffic will begin or end on Wi-Fi. So it’s critical to take action now to prevent broadband bottlenecks down the road.
5th generation Wi-Fi – known as 802.11ac -- can deliver much faster speeds and capacity and avoid these bottlenecks. For instance, it can deliver much more robust networking in enterprise like hospital, schools, or factories.
802.11ac requires larger contiguous bands of spectrum to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Therefore, the Plum report concludes that the European Commission should direct CEPT (the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) to launch a study to assess whether, and under what conditions Wi-Fi would be able to share the spectrum with incumbent users, and how to make this a reality. If the process to allow Wi-Fi to use more spectrum is not begun now, then we will begin to see demand outstripping capacity in certain scenarios down the line. For example, at major transport hubs we are likely to see capacity and speed constrained by 2016.
There’s not just a technological imperative to do this, but an economic one as well. For Europe alone, the Plum report conservatively estimates that economic benefit from providing additional spectrum for Gigabit Wi-Fi for Europe is €16.3 billion, or almost $22 billion. This includes €12.3 billion in gains from improved quality of service from contested environments and €4 billion from increased mobile offload capabilities. So this will drive economic growth as well.
Here’s the bottom line: The promise of the next-generation is enormous. But putting in place a new contiguous block of spectrum will take time. So it’s imperative that governments act now so that the foundation for next-generation applications and wireless HD video will be in place and the promise of tomorrow’s Internet can be fully realized.