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CommLaw Conspectus publishes “Overestimating Wireless Demand: Policy and Investment Implications of Upward Bias in Mobile Data Forecasts”

CommLaw Conspectus- Journal of Communications Law and Policy, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2015, published a paper “Overestimating Wireless Demand: Policy and Investment Implications of Upward Bias in Mobile Data Forecasts.” The paper was co-authored by Summit Ridge Group President J. Armand Musey and Aalok Mehta, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.

The paper examines the provenance, reliability, and uses of mobile demand forecasts and finds that several highly visible spectrum demand estimates over the past several years have exceeded actual traffic, which may have biased spectrum allocation decisions and policies in socially suboptimal ways. These reports include Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) estimates, which are commonly cited in government and industry reports, including the National Broadband Plan, as well as estimates endorsed in ITU’s WRC-07. The paper explores potential technological, economic, and sociological factors that may drive these biases, as well as possible solutions and policy remedies. This paper is not meant to imply any deliberate misrepresentation from any party, although this is certainly possible when billions of dollars are at stake, as with spectrum policy. Rather, the paper investigates various potential sources of bias and methods to mitigate such risks, in the hopes that it might inform businesses, regulators, and the general public about how to better allocate and manage finite spectrum resources.

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