Mr Scrooge The Bandwidth-Builder

What is it with telecoms operators? Instead of building a super product which gives customers enormous scope to develop their applications, they build the lowest-capacity network they feel they can get away with.

In pre-DSL days, BT used to argue: Why do people want all this bandwidth? (e.g. a pitiful 128kb/sec). What will they do with it? BT’s attitude was: Prove you have a need for bandwidth before we’ll consider providing it.

It’s the same thing with the wireless operators. Earlier this week, Andy Dunkin of Vodafone’s New Technologies and Innovation Access Team was telling the Avren Next Generation Networks conference that Vodafone would start deploying LTE in areas of high data-usage.


That seems an obvious strategy but, in reality, it probably means Vodafone will put in the bare minimum of gear to handle existing demand and dribble out extra bandwidth as the networks start to overload.


Just imagine, if you can, what it would be like if network operators said: ‘Here’s a great new technology – let’s get it out to our customers as soon as possible.’


Instead of the world technology industry being constantly held back in its product development by the lack of bandwidth, and by the cost of bandwidth, we would have networks which always had sufficient head-room to give full expression to the always-accelerating technological capabilities in computer technology and communications technology.


The developers of hardware would feel free to push the limits of what new computing and communications technologies can do. Customers would be enthralled by the ever-increasing capabilities of what they buy.


We’d all be off to the races again.


TOMORROW MORNING: Top Ten Semiconductor Suppliers of 1965








  1. Anonymous, of course you are right and sensible but, if the PC industry had taken that approach, and it might have done – viz Gates’ ‘640k ought to be enough for anyone’ – then we’d be in a pretty backward state today.
    By being sensible, balancing demand/supply, dribbling out the minimum capacity necessary to do the job, the telcos delay the utilisation of the advances made elsewhere – in ICs, in new wireless technologies, and in end-product development.
    I understand the telcos’ business motives, but their attitude acts as a brake on progress. And I can’t see any way that a brake on progress can be a good thing.
    Maybe governments should give a tax-break to telcos who maximise capacity beyond current traffic demand,

  2. Dear David,
    Supply and demand will always be related. Tilting the balance between the two can throw up very interesting situations, but businesses are likely to prefer the known devil (balance) to the unknown angel (ex., over supply). This is probably as true for bandwidth as it is for almost everything else – CPU power, memory speeds, but also bailout packages and all the way down to the quantity of dessert servings at restaurants. And in each case, the cynic is equally right (or wrong) in questioning the demand (or the business logic behind it).

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