Monday, December 27, 2010

Bandwidth is the new coverage

Something caught my ear on the radio today: an ad from a major cell provider twitting the competition for making all sorts of claims about speed (and then claiming to be the fastest themselves ... so there!)

Not so long ago the battle was over coverage, but evidently coverage is now about as good as it's going to get.  The internet connectivity of a phone is now a bigger selling point than the mere fact that you can call people with it.  If you're outside the US, or just more into smart phones than I am, this may well be old news.  I tend to use my phone predominately as a phone and an alarm clock, probably because I almost always have access to WiFi and a decent-sized screen and keyboard [Hmm ... this one might be worth a followup -- D.H. Dec 2015].

So far I've found a smartphone most useful as an easily portable GPS, an application for which I'd gladly trade speed for coverage.  A GPS function without a usable map is not much use if you're lost out in the boonies.  But maybe that's just me.

What also caught my ear about the ad was that carriers appear to be claiming to be "X times faster."  Faster than what, I'm not really sure, but it sounded reminiscent of internet providers claiming to be "X times faster" than dialup.  Even with that nice low bar set, providers had trouble providing quite what they promised.  Perhaps cell providers will do better in that regard?

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