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We can save the world, claim mobile operators

If only you'll let us

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A modest pitch from the mobile industry - stop restricting use of spectrum and we'll save the world economy, except that restricted spectrum use is exactly what the companies are actually asking for.

The pitch comes in the form of a letter to the G20 leaders, headed by industry-body the GSMA but signed by 20 of the world's biggest mobile-phone companies, which appeals for some radio spectrum in exchange for an economic miracle the mobile industry reckons it can deliver:

"This initiative will not only secure current employment in the industry ... but will also spur the creation of new jobs."

...but the benefits won't be restricted to those working in the industry:

"As mobile broadband repeats the productivity revolution of mobile phones, the global GDP impact could be a boost of 3-4%."

At first glance operators seem to be asking for less regulation: "In recent times we have experienced a trend of increasing regulatory intervention, often where this is not appropriate". So that would be the EU caps on roaming then. But when it comes to allocating spectrum the industry has a more regulatory environment in mind - "Our initiative is centred on replicating the success story of GSM".

That would be the success that was driven by the deployment of government-mandated technology into radio frequencies that were handed out, often for free, to cherry-picked operators, with international agreements forbidding the use of alternative technologies or frequencies that are only now being rescinded.

It would be great to have some internationally-agreed radio spectrum for mobile phones, all of which used the same technology to allow seamless roaming, in the same way that it would be great to have the world ruled by a single, benevolent, dictator. The problem is finding one, and trusting them. ®

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