Fragmented markets, higher costs

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You would be hard pressed to find anyone unwilling to acknowledge telecoms importance in supporting economic, political and social development in both advanced and emerging countries. Shifts to knowledge-based economies and greater global integration of newly industrialized states — even agricultural economies — all benefit from increased broadband (both wired and wireless) penetration and available bandwidth, even if that benefit is currently uneven. The impacts of globalization allows for immense economies of scale that can help drive down infrastructure costs.

With LTE’s emergence as the de facto 4G infrastructure of choice over WiMax, benefits should be able to pass along to consumers but one of the remaining challenges for international travellers will be the variation of frequencies for technologies. Another, related, will be the amount of networks phones will need to support over the next little while. 2G, various 3G technologies and the new LTE-Lite (and eventually LTE-Advanced).

These two factors really stood out for me lately in a post on Martin Sauter’s blog where he gave a comparison of ‘Carrier Specific Device Models in the US vs. Universal Devices in Europe‘ and the below ‘LTE Spectrum Strategies‘ presentation I found through the 3G and 4G Wireless Blog.

 

I’m not sure that there’s anything that can be done to rectify this in the short term in North American markets. Nor is it immediately clear what would be the theoretical benefits to consumers from a reduction in competition, though operators likely benefit from greater customer lock in. It also helps explain why handsets are more heavily subsidized in North America. Does this situation create a chicken-egg paradox in terms of Canadian consumers willing to pay full retail for handsets?