USA Telecom doesn’t have enough airwaves for your selfies

Nowadays we can’t live without wireless Internet. We use our mobile phones, tablets or laptops with integrated wireless cards to communicate with others and search information.
By: Beyondtech
MIAMI - Sept. 27, 2015 - PRLog -- Nowadays we can’t live without wireless Internet. We use our mobile phones, tablets or laptops with integrated wireless cards to communicate with others and search information. We spend our days connected to the Internet through hundreds of apps, websites and services, thus using an incredible amount of data.

Wireless data use has grown and is going to keep growing due to demand for mobile Internet connection. “In 2009, approximately 191 billion megabytes (Mb) traveled across U.S. wireless networks, or roughly 21.8 million Mb an hour. By 2014, wireless providers reported handling more than 4 trillion Mb. That level of mobile data means that every hour, over 462 million Mbs flowed across U.S. wireless networks,” reports the study “Mobile Data Demand: Growth Forecast Met (” (2015).

Data hunger

A research made by comScore shows that 191.4 million people own a smartphone in U.S, that’s roughly 59% of the country’s population. When it comes to searching information on the web, smartphone owners use their devices to look up about health, job offers and real states, do online banking or even to summit job applications, says a research made by Pew Research Center (

Applications have also had a great responsibility in data consuming growth. Another comScore research affirms that Facebook is the mobile app most used by Americans. The facebook app is followed by Youtube and Google Play Store. Music streaming app, Pandora Radio along with another social media apps such as Instagram and Twitter made it to the Top 15 Smartphone Apps ( too.

Whistle Out ( explains that the average Facebook users could spend 715Mb a month and in the same range using Pandora takes 1.8Gb. Watching videos in HD definitions in Youtube takes approximately 6Mb per minute. Uploading a picture to Instagram needs 1.5Mb of data and updating Twitter takes 70Kb.

And our phones do all these things “wirelessly”, because data transmits over antennas and data centers using wires. And the chances that those wires are fiber optics are really high.

Wireless data transmission 101

The first thing you should know is that wireless signals travel through the air using airwaves, this is known as spectrum. But those signals need physical towers to be sent and received.

You surely have seen a cell tower. They are around us and even though we don’t pay them much attention, they are the ones that make our communications possible. Many cellular service providers like AT&T or Verizon use the same backbone structure for their equipment, those backbones are connected to the transceivers next to the cell tower over fiber optics and transceivers are linked to the dozen antennas on top of the towers by fiber optic wires too.

Antennas can also be on top of buildings, street or traffic lights, trees or anything that put them some feet away from the ground. The research “Antennas Height and Communication Effectiveness (” says that distance between antennas and floor is really important and they need to be at least 35 feet above the ground to have a good performance, and the higher they are the better the work.

Each antenna is a cell network itself and it can cover from a few blocks of a city up to 250 miles, this  range is controlled by wireless service providers. An antenna uses radio frequencies to send and receive data to and from the little radios we have in our hands that we know as cell phones. And this is how we make calls.

When connecting to Internet, your cell phone sends encode data to the closest antenna using IPs, the antenna decodes the data and sends it to the rest of the network wirelessly or through fiber cables. Antennas also encodes data destined to your cell phone and sends it using airwaves. This process happens in the blink of an eye.

U.S Internet fell behind, really behind.

To connect to mobile broadband, you probably have a 3G or 4G cell phone. The Universal Mobile Telecommunication System establishes that 3G technologies must be capable of handling up to 2Mbps, while 4G needs to manage at least 100Mbps if you are moving and 1Gbps when stationary. Theoretically it all sounds really pretty. But do our phones really work on those standards?

4G is provided from national telecommunication companies such as Verizon, T- Mobile, AT&T and Sprint, and though they all claim to have the fastest 4G mobile network, they don’t.

American Internet is really slow compared to rest of the world and is more expensive. The report The Cost of Connectivity ( points out that with 50$ you can afford a 300Mbps connection in Hong Kong, while with the same amount of money you can just pay for a 50Mbps connection in LA.

A research made by OpenSignal ( concludes that U.S LTE is ranked on the world’s slowest LTE download speeds, with Sprint’s LTE running 5Mbps, AT&T and Verizon roughly 8Mbps and T-Mobile 10Mbps. U.S mobile networks aren’t even the fastest ones in North America, with a 4Mbps average speed in contrast with Puerto Rico’s 9.6Mbps or Canada’s 5.3Mbps, says The State of the Internet / Q1 2015 ( a research made by the Content Delivery Network Akamai.


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