Esme Vos has a post earlier this week about what I am calling the 3G Choke Point on Muni Wireless.
As a PolyNetwork carrier user I've seen what the greed of AT&T, and the lagging T-Mobile has done here in the USA with 3G data, and how the very conservative, but far more better managed Verizon Wireless has done with data as has Sprint (despite their limited network footprint.)
Basically, here in the USA AT&T waited too long and is using the iPhone revenue projections to justify the spending of some 11 billion dollars on their infrastructure. T-Mobile has cratered their WiFi presence and is slowly rolling out 3G on frequencies of 850 mghz and 1700 mghz, but their 850 spectrum is limited and 1700 is just gearing up. What both did was simply wait for demand to exceed supply before building out the networks, and clearly they missed, when it comes to those who live on the east and west coasts, who are experiencing slow downs like a drive on the 405 at 830 AM on a Friday.
Translation-don't plan on getting anywhere fast.
When Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless Services it was for their 3G technology. But then SW Bell bought AT&T and all things slowed down, as the boys in Texas took a few years sorting through things, killing off VoIP play CallVantage as opposed to leveraging that and growing it in combination with their mobile offerings. They spent billions on UVerse, a technology that's not as powerful as Verizon's FIOS or the cable industry's Docsis 3.0 standard, selling mediocrity with better profit margins by taking advantage of aging copper infrastructure and on premise wiring, vs. go all fiber and being better prepared for the future.
Then there was Sprint. Instead of building out their network and becoming better at taking what they have (a very fast network, really smart technology and a cool brand) they punted by buying Nextel, lost customers, made mistakes with XOOM so much so that Clearwire had to orchestrate a pre-bailout bailout and is clearly now a company that has lost its way with so many different platforms and technologies that their commercials even seem to be a lampoon of their own state of altered reality.
In each case the concept of greed has been at play. Basically each of the USA carriers, with the blessings of the regulators has milked the existing investment in aging technology to the point of it cracking. As a matter of fact if the economy hadn't hit a speed bump the networks likely would be far worse as the slow down has also reduced or buffeted increasing demand.
What got us here?
Too much consolidation, restriction on competition and a government that chose to look the wrong way at the wrong time. This in turn has caused us to lose our edge.
For the USA to grow, we need to have the best telecommunications infrastructure and technology, not just good enough. So unless you want to be number two or worse, start pressuring our leaders for a responsible telecom policy, not one that is based on greed and profiteering, because at the end of the day, there won't be any profits for anyone at the rate we're going.