The fastest and cheapest pipe will win content

Joi Ito has learned a lesson from his $3500 GPRS bill:

I think that as broadband becomes a standard part of households, more and more people will fill up their iPods and mobile devices with all the content they need from their flat-fee low-cost pipe. Most content isn’t THAT time sensitive. I don’t see any reason to have to download content on-the-go over expensive gprs when devices can talk wifi or bluetooth and have enough storage to allow you to carry content around.

That’s a good point. Operators have tried to get people to buy the idea that if only they have UMTS, their mobiles will be able to be used for huge amounts of data: music, video and pictures. That is just not true, at least with the current economics. I can see that in my own behaviour: before I leave the house to go somewhere where I can’t access the net for a while (like a business trip), I’m making sure I got all my gadgets ‘synced’, i.e. I have the content that I need while I’m away with me.

Another point: if every mobile user switched to UMTS for data, you could see the masts glowing in the dark. I heard a statistic mentioning that the german railway system is only capable of taking 5 percent of the trucks off the road, and I guess even smaller numbers apply for the amount of internet usage a UMTS network can take before it collapses.

So, what is the best use for UMTS, really? Honestly, I have no idea….

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