It will come as no surprise for most folks, that besides having an interests in economics, faith, and politics, I’m also interested in technology. That’s what I’d like to write about today. In reflecting on this topic, I’ve come to realize that there is a political element as well, I’ll leave that to you to figure out.
The specific area of technology I’d like to address is the mess known as cellular phone business. Why do I call it a mess? Well, to begin with there are several competing standards. That means cell phone designers have at least two different technologies to develop. It also means that cellular coverage suffers, since separate overlapping networks need to be developed and maintained.
Normally, I would want to develop the rational behind my solution more, but I really want to get to that now, so I get it off of my chest! The other problems all hinge on solving this problem anyway.
Has it really been one week since the drastic hair cut?
License regional companies to develop the wireless/cellular network in a geographic area. Each company would use the same standard, and would provide this network to any cellular carrier choosing to provide service in their area. If you want to be a national cellular carrier, you would work with each of the regional companies. If you only wanted to be a regional carrier, you have that option as well. Existing cellular carriers could either sell their networks to these companies, or apply for the license themselves. With that license comes the right to collect standard fees for network use, along with a required service level agreement that is on the order of the standard five nines (99.999%) uptime. Also, along with that license comes the responsibility to offer the same pricing structure and services to all network users, regardless of size or affiliation. The license requires a peering relationship with all other regional networks, with no prejudice.
From a global perspective, the current standard is GSM. That is the standard that needs to be implemented with this national network. Then, once it is adopted, and the conversion to the single standard is in place, all frequencies currently used by competing standards can be made available to the GSM standard, making coverage and bandwidth needs easier to address.
Here are just a few of the additional benefits of a single nationwide standard.
- Cellular carriers would no longer compete on having “the best network”, or “more bars in more places”. Instead they would compete on customer service, and putting together the best deal.
- No longer would you be locked into a particular device at a particular carrier. You could switch your carrier as easily as you could switch from DirecTV to a local cable provider.
- Device manufacturers would not have multiple standards to develop products for, allowing them to focus on true innovation, instead of wasting time differentiating products by competing standards and frequencies.
- All cellular phones would become global, instead of the United States being the only country with multiple standards.
Having competing standards makes about as much sense as having one sign company make signs in miles, and another in kilometers, and then randomly awarding the contracts and placing the signs. 100 km to Chicago followed by 60 mi. to Chicago, followed by 80 km to Chicago… you get the picture!
Now, for the record, I’m not suggesting that there should not be competition in the development of standards. As far as that goes, the United States and the world at large need to develop standards based on the merits of those standards, and then depreciate those standards that do not pass muster. Other industries can accomplish this, it is about time the Cellular phone industry did.