The deficit super committee and congressional technology committees searching for new money are considering "incentive auctions" of the TV band spectrum. Versions of these plans that focus on simply selling as much spectrum as possible would threaten the future of wireless innovation in the U.S.
And yet over 90 percent of tablet data is carried over Wi-Fi. For iPhones, the number is about 50 percent, and Android smart phones are catching up. It makes sense: only about a third of our usage is "on the move," much of that in settings covered by hotspots. The rest is on our home or office Wi-Fi. Carriers know this as much as anyone else. AT&T's network was practically saved by Wi-Fi when the iPhone's introduction spiked usage. KDDI, Japan's second-largest mobile broadband provider, signed a deal in July with a California firm, Ruckus Wireless, to deploy 100,000 hotspots in Japan at the heart of KDDI's next-generation network. BT now has three million users in the U.K. who are members of its BT FON network: any one of them serves as a hotspot for the others.
The differences between European and North American smart grid meter communications markets help us understand the role that policy plays. Wireless smart electricity meter communications systems are vastly more prevalent in the U.S. than in Europe (97 percent of new meters shipped in the first quarter of 2011 in the U.S. were wireless; only 15 percent were in Europe).