Mobile Communications & GDP

The cover story in “The Economist” (392: #8650) focuses on how new communications technologies are beneficially transforming developing countries. One interesting statistic in the is that the study claims for every 10 mobile phones introduced per 100 people boosts growth in GDP per person by 0.8 percentage points. When you combine this with an article by Scott Cendrowski in the March 22 issue of Fortune magazine showing the forecast demand in bandwidth as a result of ‘smart phones / iphones’ and their clones especially as it relates to video upload/download it appears that we may soon “hit the wall” unless some new technology developments increase the bandwidth of not only the 2.4 GHz spectrum but also the access points.

Obviously we have a conflict here because connectivity is a key to economic growth while at the same time this same growth could have a negative impact on not only how we “work” (much of the increase in bandwidth is not work but rather us watching the replay of the latest scoring play of our favourite team) but since the ISM band is being used by all the industrial wireless standards and a well behaved 802.15.4 radio is supposed to ‘back off’ when it conflicts with an 802.11 signal how are we going to be able to connect our industrial wireless sensors and still follow all the rules? We will likely have to do like ISA 100.11a and “cheat” as a minimum to ignore the 802.15.4 bows to 802.11 rule for starters.

One thing is for sure, we will need more access points, meaning more copper and fibre to give us the necessary bandwidth in more places. I am also counting on technology developments to bail us out some as well, however in this case it appears that we have found a way to ‘break’ the tradition of horsepower increasing at a faster rate than the load it needs to carry (Moore’s law allowing for the creation of bloatware on our computers) – at least for now. Any solutions pending out there?

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