This article helps convey how huge of a setup is needed to support masses of uses at the same time: http://arstechnica.com/features/2012/08/why-your-smart-device-cant-get-wifi-in-the-home-teams-stadium/
But the good news is that bandwidth ... costs virtually nothing per Gbit. Once the civil engineering costs are paid and the fibre is in the ground,
The bad news is, the civil engineering costs are never paid, at least not in the US. This is at least one of the reasons why bandwidth is so expensive in the US and why most of the major carriers offer only plans that throttle your data after 'x' amount.
In the US, when telephone service was monopolized by AT&T and the Bells (all subsidiaries of AT&T), service was relatively cheap, but nobody could enter the market because nobody could match AT&T's prices. After the break up, prices rose and competition increased for a time. Now we are back at a tipping point where there are several large companies and no company has a real competitive advantage over any others (excluding the VoIP-only companies).
In cellular communication, we have another version of that situation: Several large corporations dominate the market and use cartel-like activities (price fixing/coordinating/matching, etc) to keep new competition out of the market. They "have no money" for infrastructure upgrades (or to pay their Level 1 & 2 service techs), but millions to spend on executive compensation. Because of their profiteering activities, the US is a first world country with a third world data pipe.
A couple ideas to restructure the system: Break up the big companies, like was done with AT&T; have the government own the backbone of the system and be responsible for its upgrades/maintenance (tax the companies on a per user basis to fund the backbone). There are probably many other possibilities as well.
So they can do as good a job with our telecommunications infrastructure as they do with the roads?
Get the government OUT of telecommunications at all. The regulatory costs and hurdles of entering the telecom market are so insanely high that they artificially keep competitors out of the market.
One WiMAX node can easily cover 4-5 miles, providing wireless internet, voice and video service. Clearwire (a WiMAX based carrier) planned on a node every 1.5 miles to maintain quality of service. The cost to provide internet, voice and video to the same population using wired or 4G services is many times higher.
Why doesn't Clearwire rule the telecom markets? The regulatory burdens are HUGE and the embedded carriers do everything they can to keep them out. Government isn't the answer, it's the problem.
Not saying. Just sayin'.
When it comes to the telecommunications backbone, the United States is partially the victim of its own success. Our embedded capital investments include millions of miles of copper and older fiber optic lines. I cannot imagine the government owning "the backbone" - the capital behind that is in the billions (trillions?). But I can't imagine letting the large carries have unregulated oligopolies either.
In Singapore last week I experiences wired access at over 100Mbit's both ways whilst in Korea and Japan it seemed faster. But all three had vastly different mobile network and philosophies. In Japan for instance you see a lot of VoD movie watching on the Metro in a morning and evening - and that takes bandwidth and connectivity.
In the EU you have to visit/live in Jersey (Channel Islands) to see 1Gbit/s as the standard for business now being rolled out to all homes with open wifi and 3G at every termination.
And as you travel you see countries dominated by mobiles for internet access, whilst others have a big population of Tablets and Pads or laptops. For sure the PC is on the wane!
Oh - and wireless can only do it if there is a dense optical fibre network down to the last/first km
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