Thursday 28 November 2013

Mobile Broadband Future Basic Platform for Radio

Free wireless networks will add to 3G/4G platforms
As reported earlier according to the Ericsson mobility report 90 percent of the world population will be have 3G coverage 2019 and 65 percent will have 4G/LTE. The number of mobile subscriptions will be tenfold by 2019 increasing to 9,3 billion and of this 5,6 billion will be smartphones. Besides mobile broadband 3G/4G today one billion Internet users can connect to free wireless networks - wi-fi - all over the world. Many media services as radio and television will be easily accessible via apps for mobile/smartphone users. This will further kill the arguments for a new digital radio infrastructure replacing FM as DAB/DAB+.

However, a report commissioned by the Swedish network operator Teracom says it is unrealistic to substitute broadcast radio with distribution via cellular networks.
Some people believe it is possible to replace broadcast radio with radio via cellular networks. Surely, they have not done the math. I have done the math and the conclusion is clear – it is not a realistic alternative, says Göran Hedström, primary author of the report. The report, "Can the cellular networks cope with linear radio broadcasting?”, lists several arguments as capacity, accessibility costs as for why it is not a credible alternative. - Teracom is the main stakeholder to introduce the DAB system in Sweden.

The report is based on the assumption that cellular networks should replace FM rather than DAB+. However, the report ignores the scenario that FM could be retained and in parallel radio via fixed and mobile broadband will develop all over the world. The report also ignores that the consumer will in any case use smartphones and also pay for broadband access - with or without radio. Radio, which is quite less bandwidth consuming than for example television, will be there anyway as a bonus to all. And besides the cellular network there will be extensive usage of free wi-fi.

Today, you will get free wi-fi access on train and buses all over the world. In Tokyo this month free wi-fi is installed in 1.452 buses. You will get wi-fi on the Andalucian regional bus
lines in Spain. In Nairobi the city with the worst traffic jams commuters are connected to free wi-fi on 1.000 matatus - the mini buses.

Photo: BBC
For 1-2 hours per ride the Nairobian communters are networking, reading, watching tv and listening to radio via the net. In Sweden you will get free access on all rapid national trains. And of course soon there will not be any coffee shop without free wi-fi in Stockholm. Several cities in different parts of the world are planning for free wi-fi for all their citizens and visitors.

Globally one billion Internet users are now connecting to free wi-fi via hotspot and homespots open for the public. The number of hotspots will reach 55 million 2018 and homespots 100 million according to Wireless Broadband Alliance. It can be estimated that 3 billion user will access mobile broadband via cellular networks and wi-fi. This will become the most efficient global platform for radio second to FM radio.

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