MIT “breakthrough” does *not* solve Spectrum Crunch

October 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The MIT breakthrough (originally reported in Technology Review, and breathlessly at Fierce Wireless as “MIT Researchers may have solved the Spectrum Crunch“”) appears to be an improvement using Forward Error Correction (to avoid retransmissions), but that does not “Solve the Spectrum Crunch” for cellular systems since the capacity needed (global mobile Internet traffic) doubles each year–so lots of help is needed to satisfy demand, including more spectrum. Further, 3G (GSM UMTS, CDMA 1x EV-DO)and 4G (LTE) cellular data transmissions *schedule* access to data channels (unlike Wi-Fi, which uses CSMA-CD, a coordinated free-for-all), so there is less efficiency to be gained in reducing retransmissions. Sure, in Wi-Fi,  all Hosts collide for a shared channel (and retransmit). I can see that this might significantly improve the effective bandwidth on a heavily loaded Wi-Fi network, but it’s not a silver bullet for capacity on a cellular network.

For more useful news on challenge of satisfying exponential demand for mobile data and real solutions needed to solve the Spectrum Crunch, I strongly recommend QUALCOMM’s excellent series “The 1000x Challenge” at www.qualcomm/com/1000x and my coverage on this challenge at


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