History Repeats Itself: The Ongoing Wireless Battles – Euro Mobile Operators Want Apple & Google to Pay

I’m in the midst of reading (listing to the Audible audiobook) titled The Master Switch by Tim Wu. It provides a history of the development of telephone, radio, TV, and movie firms and technology in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’m currently on chapter 11 of this 21 chapter book. But, its detailed history up to this point plus my own less scholarly knowledge of communications history makes it clear that we are watching history repeating itself as disruptive technologies are suppressed by businesses dependent on still profitable older technology. Did you know, for example, that the AM radio industry of the early 20th century surpressed the development of FM radio for decades or that AT&T’s famed Bell Labs hid the notes and hardware of a telephone answering machine designed and built in the early 1930s?

Technology suppresion comes in a variety of forms. And, sometimes, there might be a somewhat understandable rationale as we watch our 21st century battle between wireless carriers and network based application providers and their customers.

Apple, Google Asked to Pay Up as Mobile Operators Face Data Flood (Bloomberg)

Mobile carrier customers, content providers (in the form of streaming video, downloadable media, and other data heavy services and applications), and service and application developers are all looking to connected apps and large amounts of wireless bandwidth to continue to fuel the growth of the mobile industry we have today. Mobile carriers, on the other hand, have an aging infrastructure that is apparently creaking under the weight of this wireless data demand. Thus, we see Verizon limiting their their new fast LTE 4G wireless data network to 5GB per month. This quota can, it has been reported, used up in 32 minutes. 5GB is roughly equivalent to two 720p HD movies.

It will probably be decades before all this is sorted out in courts, boardrooms, and history books. Citizens of the 22nd century will have an interesting 21st century history to look back on. And, they will probably shake their heads at us just as I shake my head sometimes listening to Tim Wu’s excellent book of the (mostly) 20th century.