While the technology in this Technology Review piece is interesting and something I hope will make it onto cell towers, I am less convinced it will do anything to diminish the urge of mobile carriers to employ throttling.
Major carriers, arguing that their networks are clogged with smart-phone and tablet traffic, are increasingly implementing data throttling, the practice of targeting heavy users by slowing down data-transfer speeds. Now a gadget invented at Bell Labs—a programmable, pint-sized transmitter that requires no new traditional cell towers—could rapidly add capacity and thus help avoid data bottlenecks.
The article is full of a ton of technical reasons why these new components, called light radio cubes, are attractive–lower power consumption, increased capacity without expensive new rights-of-way. There is even good evidence for their adoption in some markets already.
The fact that the technology is related to another bit of kit that hasn’t seen as widespread adoption as initially promised, femtocells, has me skeptical they will change the current throttling practices of mobile carriers, at least here in the states. What it may do is more clearly reveal the lie that such throttling is about congestion and capacity rather than plain old rent seeking.
If light radio cubes enable abundant, cheap wireless in the bands and with the technologies (GSM, HSPDA, LTE, etc.) already in use, there is one less excuse for carrier who are simply not investing in keeping their capacity up with clear customer demand.
Tiny Transmitters Could Help Avert Data Throttling, Technology Review