I’m sure you would agree that you pay enough for your monthly cell phone service as it is. But do not fret my fellow cell phone user! The days of costly cell phone bills are here to stay! And there is a good chance that they might even go up within the following years. So when that costly bill comes in next month and is slightly higher than the previous month, let your grief out on the phenomenon known as “spectrum crunch.” Spectrum crunch involves necessary mobile airwaves reaching their capacity. According to CNN Money, “the U.S. mobile phone industry is running out of the airwaves necessary to provide voice, text and Internet services to its customers.” It is funny to think that even resources invisible to the human eye can be finite. The wireless spectrum has not reached its full capacity, yet, but experts agree that a spectrum crunch is in full effect. The smaller wireless spectrum will result in a higher number of dropped calls, slowed data connection speeds, and, like I previously mentioned, higher customer costs.
A majority of the problem can be attributed to me, most likely you, and every other smart phone user out there. Our obsession with checking emails frequently on our phones and the thousands of smart phone applications in existence surely affects the wireless spectrum. The biggest culprit being videos on mobile phones. To shed some light on how much of the spectrum is actually taken up by phones these days, the iPhone uses about 24 times the amount of spectrum as those old brick cell phones that were the hip new toy just 10 years ago. Another apple product, the iPad, takes up as much as 122 times the amount.
The spectrum crunch also owes credit to the United States government’s way of allocating space on the wireless spectrum. Back in the 1990s, this was helpful in increasing competition. But the breaking up of the spectrum into small chunks across various markets has proven to be an issue. A final factor that is essentially “bringing down the spectrum,” is the fact that the better part of the spectrum space is being occupied by TV broadcasters and government agencies such as the Department of Defense. The frequencies owned by said corporations are typically lower end frequencies that have the ability to travel long distances, through solid structures.
The spectrum crunch is not an inherently American problem, but its effects are magnified here, since the United States has an enormous population of connected users. This country serves more than twice as many customers per megahertz of spectrum as the next nearest spectrum-constrained nations, Japan and Mexico.