Spectrum Crunch or not? Do Wireless Network Operators really need More Spectrum?

AT&T Chief Randall Stephenson has been warning about a spectrum crunch for some time and used that argument as the main reason AT&T needed to acquire T- Mobile.   

  • http://forwardthinking.pcmag.com/none/300447-at-t-ahead-of-the-capacity-crunch-but-spectrum-problems-loom
    But then just last month, the new Ma Bell (which is really SBC + the old AT&T) said they’d build out LTE to 99% of the US, including rural areas it previously said could only be built out if the company acquired T-Mobile’s spectrum and cell towers. A complete reversal!
    Stephane Teral of Infonetics clearly says no more spectrum is needed- operators should use what they have more efficiently to meet the surge in mobile data traffic.  See his comments both within this article and in the comment box below it:  http://viodi.com/2012/12/05/infonetics-mobile-infrastructure-market-down-in-quarter-small-cells-not-so-hot/
    In particular, ” It’s interesting to see that so many people believe there is a spectrum crunch! And therefore, mobile infrastructure spending should increase! Who’s paying for the new infrastructure at a time ARPUs are falling everywhere except in Australia , Canada , the US , and Japan? I’m currently crunching mobile services revenue numbers and there are not pretty: consumers don’t want to pay for mobile communications.  At this point of the 21st century, mobile infrastructure on this planet is essentially built out and the bulk of the market consists of migrating/upgrading 2G network to 3G with LTE-ready gears.”
    In a SJ Merc editorial today, Joint Venture SV’s Chris DiGiorgio and Leon Beauchman say yes, more spectrum is needed to encourage more mobile apps & mobile computing.
    Greater wireless spectrum can power Silicon Valley and U.S. economy, by Chris DiGiorgio and Leon Beauchman
    Leon refers to the recent JVSV Wireless Symposium and Congresswomen Anna Eschoo said “we (U.S. Congress) must make freeing up more spectrum a top priority”  Summary of her remarks & the entire symposium is at:
    Here’s more to whet your appetite:
    -WirelessOperators can’t afford to raise mobile data plan prices as a means to constrain mobile data traffic, as that would discourage users. 
    -And they apparently don’t want to spend much money to rebuild their cellular networks to make them more efficient, e.g. small cells, self organizing networks, mobile data traffic management, improved backhaul, etc. 
    -Operators seem to be using a combination of femtocells and WiFi hot spots to offload mobile data traffic to broadband wireline networks.  Is that the ultimate solution, or would they really make use of more spectrum if they got it?