Underlying the net neutrality debate is the idea that bandwidth is a limited resource that must be doled out efficiently and, above all, fairly. However, wireless bandwidth is a far more constrained resource than its wired cousin. Therefore, the focus of the biggest battles will be on wireless.
At the same time, wireless and cellular are becoming ever more central to the competitive well-being of an organization. So enterprise managers need to closely follow net neutrality and related debates and news, says Peter Rysavy, the president of a research and testing organization that bears his name. The main takeaway from this piece, which he wrote for InformationWeek, is that mobile and wireless bandwidth will become increasingly important in the corporate world, and IT managers who don't pay attention aren't doing their jobs.
It isn't an easy topic. The technical complexities of this blog post by analyst Brough Turner can be disregarded by managers and other non-experts, but it's important to remember that all networks are not created equal. It's repeatedly been reported that AT&T's wireless network is bending under the weight of the iPhone. Turner discusses the complicated technology shortcomings that he feels may be causing the problems, suggesting the issues may go beyond simply a lack of bandwidth.
Turner's post comments on a series of messages by experts on the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) concerning the AT&T situation. The details, which focus on whether the carrier is misconfiguring its network, require a tremendous level of knowledge. This much is clear: Folks in charge of choosing devices for their organizations must carefully consider the networks to which they connect as well.
Technical evolution and development, along with regulatory changes, will play a big role in whether there is enough cellular and wireless bandwidth to keep users' iPhones and BlackBerries purring.
It also is important to keep abreast of research. Earlier this month, Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz Institut and antenna supplier Kathrein conducted what the story calls the first live test of an innovation known as Coordinated Multipoint Transmission (CoMP). The piece says that CoMP is designed to both improve transmission rates and to make them more efficient. The test was conducted in parts of Berlin and focused on the 2.6 GHz frequency band. The press release did not say whether the approach -- which focuses on combining signals from multiple in, multiple out (MIMO) antennas that are close to each other -- will be useful for other frequency bands, but it likely will be.
In short, wireless and cellular bandwidth likely will be the most valuable commodity of the next decade. The stakes are enormous and the moves-from the political, competitive and technical points of view -- are in full swing. IT managers must keep abreast of what is happening.