The Heartland Institute has technology experts on staff who weighed in on the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Bruce Edward Walker, managing editor of InfoTech & Telecom News and myself said this was good news, and hoped the FCC would not muck things up too much — and slow down the benefits we’ll all accrue in our digital lives.
Buying rather than building new capacity improves service today (or nearly today) — not years from now. It’s a home run for the companies — and for consumers.
Bret notes that “we’re nearing 300 million mobile subscribers in the U.S.” and we should see an additional 60 million Americans connected wirelessly via “tablets, kiosks, remote sensors, medical monitors, and cars” by 2014. That’s a staggering number. As for AT&T, Bret notes that mobile data traffic on the company’s network “rocketed 8,000% in the last four years” — thanks, in large part, to the popularity of the iPhone and AT&T’s joint venture with Apple.
Bret touches on a point I like to emphasize when talking to friends, or on radio spots and podcasts I do on occasion. The technology we quickly experience now is quite new. Indeed, the consumer electronics we almost take for granted was almost unimaginable just a few years ago:
Remember that just a decade ago there was essentially no wireless data traffic. It was all voice traffic. A few rudimentary text applications existed, but not much more. By year-end 2010, AT&T was carrying around 12 petabytes per month of mobile traffic alone. The company expects another 8 to 10-fold rise over the next five years, when its mobile traffic could reach 150 petabytes per month.
Hell, video conferencing (let alone a one-on-one video phone call) was “Jetsons” technology just five years ago. Today, anyone can Skype with multiple people … for free.
A relatively unfettered free market in the digital economy has brought us these wonders. And micromanagement by the Federal Communications Commission and other federal bureaucracies can just as quickly keep future wonders from appearing. That’s why Heartland has long said: Hands off the Internet … and wireless.