My apologies to Bruce Benson from FTI Consulting for ripping off the title of his fascinating white paper entitled- “Couch Potato Famine- Prospering Through an Era of Disruptive Change In Media.”
His article is an excellent analysis of the impact of three forces that will profoundly impact the distribution of media and which I believe will have an equally great impact on the wireless industry. He points to Open Standards, the Proliferation of Broadband, and the Emergence of Many to Many Networks. The article describes how YouTube and its role in content aggregation is crumbling the “walled garden of the broadcast paradigm”. The ability for users to immediately create and distribute media to a wide user base is already starting to have the impact of of nominalizing the large incumbent producers.
So it is no huge leap of faith to foresee the possibilities of extending the ability to create and share media from the mobile devices that accompany us everywhere. Nor it is difficult to prognosticate that instantaneous access to this content will become a necessity, especially for the younger generations.
The wireless carriers in the United States have attempted to corral the use of these services under their “bucket of minutes” and under their umbrella. (Anybody recall how worthless and frustrating AT&T’s MMode was?) Rather than embrace that free access to media would increase the minutes of use on the network- the carriers tried to create clunky WAP websites that funneled users through a limited set of options.
Google however, sees the light and has different ideas. It has proposed to the FCC that it would spend $4.6 billion on the upcoming 700 MHz auction provided that the FCC modify its rules. These changes would include:
“Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
Open networks: Third parties (like Internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.”
Google clearly sees the possibility of open networks and the role of its search on these networks. Not to mention the ability to use the algorithms that control the display of ads in divesting radio frequency to individual companies with innovative (or non-innovative) ideas on a piecemeal auction type basis. Whatever the results of Google’s efforts, one thing is clear. Whoever dominates this auction will be better equipped for the vast need of additional bandwidth that will be required in the upcoming years.