Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 9/25/2013 | 21 comments

Pablo Valerio
It's nearly impossible to do business anymore without access to huge amounts of data, whenever and wherever you want it. Yet cellular data roaming charges are pricey, WiFi spectrum is limited, and WiFi access varies from region to region.

Now the European Commission is asking member states to release more spectrum for WiFi to reduce costs of high-speed Internet for mobile users and make WiFi more accessible and more affordable to Europeans -- maybe even when they're not in Europe.

European Union Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes wants to create a single European regulator for licensing spectrum. From July 2014 Europeans will be able to choose their mobile data plans from different providers when traveling to another European member state, effectively eliminating data roaming charges. But the Commission wants to enable mobile users to get WiFi almost everywhere. In a recent European Commission study Kroes said:

    Systems where you share your WiFi network with others are a great example of how we can crowd-source a better Internet for everyone. Everyone in Europe should be able to benefit from Internet when they are away from home and work.

WiFi and LTE small cells can complement one another instead of competing with one another. In fact many mobile operators are already considering an LTE/WiFi model to deal with the forecasted data traffic increase, anticipated to grow by a factor of 10 by 2015.

But others are resisting. Offloading mobile traffic to other technologies, especially WiFi, means operators lose contact with their subscribers as they move off the mobile network, and are thereby unable to collect important data traffic revenue and browsing and app usage data.

This is one reason introducing LTE is so important to the operators. But most mobile devices today do not support LTE, and American users' WiFi access isn't as thorough as Europeans'. Also, according to Vodafone and Ofcom, the independent UK regulator, LTE will only supply 10 percent of the capacity that will be needed by 2030. In the meantime, operators are rolling out new LTE data plans, but at a much higher price.

The European Commission study suggests some strategies to cope with the data demand and use alternative solutions:

  1. Make spectrum from 5,150 MHz to 5,925 MHz available globally for WiFi
  2. Make 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz fully available for mobile use
  3. Consult on future licensing options for 3.5 GHz and other potential new licensed mobile frequency bands
  4. Reduce administrative burden on the deployment of public offload services and networks

Would all this be enough? According to the study, 71 percent of all wireless traffic was delivered to smartphones and tablets via WiFi last year. If the EU can successfully keep up with the exponentially increasing demand for data, how will the rest of the world keep up?

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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Tuscany   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   11/16/2013 8:57:09 PM
Increase Your Spectrum ?

Thanks Pablo  for this look at how EU companies are addressing the matter of WIFI.  I certainly think there is more spectrum available that has as of yet not been released by Governments.  I certainly will be watching to see how much more bandwith will be freed up in the coming years.

MDMConsult   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   10/1/2013 6:04:06 PM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
It's all about the customer and how to use these features to customize the consumer value proposition.  IDC predicts that by 2015 the "Big Data" market will be $16.9 billion, up from $3.2 billion in 2013.
Sara Peters   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 9:46:10 AM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
@Pablo  Thanks for the link! I'm actually a little afraid to watch it. It's still early in the morning for me to experience any deep thoughts and deep emotions.  Maybe later.  :)
Pablo Valerio   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 8:11:36 AM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
Thank you @sherly. There are so many examples how internat, and mobile access, have changed many lives all over the world.

There are some challenges to make basic, reliable, inexpensive, internet access available to everyone, but mostly we are moving in the right direction. Unfortunately in some countries either governments or monopolies do not recognize those basic rights.

That's why initiatives such as a Pan-European free market is important, especially for countries that recently joined the EU.
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Nomi   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 3:59:24 AM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
@Pablo you are right. I feel the exponential growth of internet has taken a positive affect on the lives of all around the world.  It has definitely taken right step forward in simplifying the lives of many may be its education, banking, research etc it has no doubteldly taken a positive stride forward. I feel internet access now should be basic right of every one.
Pablo Valerio   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 3:06:41 AM
Re: mobile data bill
@Umair, Because I have wi-fi access at home and at my co-working office I don't use a lot of cell data. Recently I switched to a MVNO package paying $5/month for 300MB of data and cheap calls. This month I used only 80MB.

I see so many people using their phones everywhere (subway, buses, walking on the street and driving). If they were a bit more careful they could save a lot of money, and avoid potential accidents.
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Pablo Valerio   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 3:02:20 AM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
It was actually really frightening how much these kids' phone use disrupted the rest of their lives.

@Sara, I'm currently reading "Alone Together" by Sherry Turkle. She gave a TED talk last year about the dangers of smartphone addiction:


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sherly_mendoza   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/30/2013 1:44:55 AM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
@Pablo: Access to the Internet is not a luxury anymore, it is part of everyone's life. I agree with this statement. Whether we use it for work, for research and study, or for fun and pleasure, the Internet has become an essential part of our day-to-day life. I don't know if it's exaggerated to say some people can't live without it, but this is really true. There are a lot of people who cannot function without the Internet. Others need the Internet to get their job done (writers, online workers, researchers). It's good to know that Europe values its people's needs and finds ways to provide these well. 
Sara Peters   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/29/2013 5:59:24 PM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
@Umair  Ha! This is funny, but probably very true: "my mobile data bill would be very low if I use it for the necessary purpose, but my addiction never let me." There was an episode of MTV's "True Life" that was about people addicted to texting, or addicted to their phones or something like that. It was actually really frightening how much these kids' phone use disrupted the rest of their lives.

Umair Ahmed   Data Explosion Won't Trouble European WiFi   9/26/2013 7:31:16 PM
Re: Europe is moving ahead
@ Sara: True, you have elaborated it very well. I completely agree with the necessity part. But I think it is the unnecessary addiction that is making the users more and more data hungry and resulting in the legislations and efforts like the one discussed here.  Needed amount of data and online access varies from person to person; in my case, my mobile data bill would be very low if I use it for the necessary purpose, but my addiction never let me. 
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