Why Metered Broadband will not go away ...

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With all the focus recently on social media and cloud computing, some might have missed recent developments in the next generation wireless network, LTE. Verizon announced at CTIA their new development center and one thing I find interesting is the fact that the operating system choices will have to collapse for 4G. Developers are still forced to choose between Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, Qualcomm Brew and Symbian. Maybe what's needed is a mobile hyper-visor of sorts that will run managed code on any device, more on that later. The other thing that will trip us up will be the change in the economics of mobility revenue and profit opportunity. I believe LTE will require operators to abandon flat-rate, monthly unlimited data plans altogether - including wired. Time Warner and other MSOs got some backlash this year with their experimentation of metered broadband. Real-world bandwidth is nowhere near theoretical peaks (I expect users will get 10-20Mbps download links for LTE vs. the 100 Mbps advertised). Busy websites and network congestion happen. Spectrum is a shared and non-deterministic media. Combine this with operator backhaul capacity, device receiver power and cell configuration diversity and you have an industry marching to data caps, bandwidth restrictions and questionable service guarantees. Think about this easy example: when you are able to download data faster, you download more thereby triggering increased usage and reaching your data cap more quickly. Stacey Higginbotham had an excellent example of the difference in downloading HD video in a metered world where you thought you were saving money by not driving to Blockbuster!