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[PolicyTracker] Viewpoint: 데이터쓰나미 예상에 대한 세 가지 의문

Viewpoint: Three questions “data tsunami” predictions (part II)

May 12, 2014 by Mark Falcon, Head of Economic Regulation, Three

PolicyTracker reported recently that Three didn’t really believe predictions of exponential growth in demand for mobile data.

What Three said, at the recent Telecoms Regulation Forum, is that most predictions of mobile data demand ignore basic economics – namely, the cost of building mobile networks and consumers’ willingness to pay.

What Three didn’t mean is that demand isn’t going up. It is. By a lot. This is a great thing for consumers of mobile data, especially if someone else would pay for it all.

But demand for most things would be going up fast if they were free.  We would all like a free Ferrari.

And mobile data isn’t free either. It’s very costly, because it needs lots of expensive spectrum and costly base stations to produce. This is the main reason why the mobile industry makes such low returns on investment.

The best estimate of the underlying cost of mobile data – i.e. including spectrum and network costs – is about £1-£5 (€1.2-€6.1) per GB. Multiply this by the standard industry mobile data growth forecasts and the total figure soon dwarfs total mobile network industry revenues by several times.

So, the mobile industry can’t go on buying more spectrum and building bigger networks for ever – that is, not unless costs start to come down (or customers are willing to pay more…)

But policy intervention can help to bring mobile networks’ biggest costs down – the costs of spectrum and the costs of renting mobile base station sites.

For example, why does site rental for an electricity pylon cost £100 (€122) a year, but the same space for a mobile base station cost £10,000+ (€12,272+) a year?

Government now expects mobile networks to provide a utility-like service: ubiquitous coverage, always sufficient capacity and always on reliability.  So why shouldn’t mobile networks have the same rights as utility companies, such as energy networks?

In conclusion, if the “internet everywhere” mobile data tsunami is going to happen, then the industry will need some help from government and regulators to deliver it.