By Jason Llorenz
Today, there are more wireless subscriptions than people in the U.S. That’s just one of the facts we reveal in the first of a series of Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) info graphics available in English and Spanish. If you have a “work” mobile phone plus a “personal” device, you’re part of that trend. Here’s another shocker: by the end of 2012, there will be more wireless subscriptions than people on the planet. This ever-growing increase in demand is great news for developers who are creating new apps, and for entrepreneurs who are connecting to the global marketplace and growing their businesses.
It’s also important news for Hispanics, who are relying on their mobile devices more and more. In fact, according to a 2010 Pew Internet and American Life study, Hispanics continue to be the most active users of mobile devices for internet access. On average, 51 percent of Hispanics access the internet from their phone, as compared to 33 percent of whites and 46 percent of African Americans. With young adults leading these data trends, we can only expect these numbers and percentages to increase.
As evidenced by the above, we aren’t just using our phones to talk. In the first half of 2011, more than 6 billion text messages were sent each day — that’s a 16 percent increase in just one year. But as more and more people join the wireless revolution, there’s a bigger demand for spectrum- the invisible airwaves that carry phone calls, e-mails, connections to the Internet, tweets, streaming music and videos to mobile phones. In other words, spectrum is what makes our mobile devices work.
As mobile phone use has increased, wireless networks have become overloaded, and as this congestion increases, so too will dropped calls, unreliable connections and slower Internet speeds. Of particular concern is potential cost increases and stricter data caps driven by lack of available spectrum, which is most dangerous to emerging online communities who choose mobile because of cost and flexibility.
Congress recently approved legislation that would provide an opportunity to reallocate underutilized broadcast spectrum through a reverse auction process, which is a step in the right direction. As shown in the info graphic, by 2016, 10 billion mobile devices worldwide will be connected to wireless networks. However, as the numbers demonstrate, the data demands of these devices and their owners will only be met if spectrum is freed up to drive investment in mobile capacity.
Inaction on spectrum threatens to roll back the great benefits of mobile Internet access to Hispanic communities and others who rely on their mobile devices for a less expensive, flexible, always on-hand access to the web.
Jason A Llorenz, Esq. is Executive Director, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP). Follow on twitter: @hispanicttp. www.httponline.org.