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The new stories of social computing are shared here. We're exploring mobile devices, embedded computing, wireless sensor networks, and social business from the perspectives of technology, business, and societal changes.

About Don Dingee

An experienced strategic marketer and editorial professional, and an engineer by education, Don is currently a blogger, speaker, and author on social computing topics, and a marketing strategy consultant. He's had previous gigs at Embedded Computing Design magazine, Motorola, and General Dynamics.

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So, You Thought Standards Were Made by Engineers

Posted November 14, 2011 1:00 PM by dondingee

I'm in a couple different discussions today that are calling "standards" into deep question as shifting markets dictate new approaches. Engineers can write a solid specification, and even have it vetted by a "standards organization", but ultimately the life cycle of a standard is determined by factors not written down anywhere.

For instance, one conversation is over the proliferation of mobile devices and what some (including me) have called the spectrum deficit problem. CTIA is loudly pounding the drum for more spectrum - specifically LTE spectrum - as a solution, and they're getting panned in some circles. Nonetheless, there is a problem. This came from a panel at Digital Capital Week:

To which one of my Tweeps responded "foolishness that they are allowed to do that". I asked him to clarify, and here's his response.

I understand the idea behind what people are now calling "small cells". In short, small cells can technologically work in dense urban areas, subdividing users into a better ratio of users to cells. The "15 users can swamp a tower" idea is worst case, but you can have thousands of subscribers computing to reuse the same tower in a dense urban setting. Setting up small cells, if they're located where the subscribers are active, can relieve some of the problem.

Wi-Fi offload also works, taking some of the high-bandwidth data traffic off the LTE network. It's an ironic twist that the same carriers who fought Wi-Fi offload tooth-and-nail a few years ago are now looking to it for survival. But, there's one nagging question still lurking.

The questions arise over business models. Ask yourself: do I pay for roaming Wi-Fi? I'll bet the answer is rarely unless you are trapped in a plane or airport. I have heard a hundred conversations at hotels about taking charges for Wi-Fi off the bill. Somehow, Wi-Fi should be free, and that's wonderful, but who pays for the infrastructure?

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