The looming spectrum shortage: worse before it gets better

TMT Telecommunications Predictions 2013

Deloitte predicts that although additional spectrum will continue to be made available in 2013 in many global markets, spectrum exhaustion will continue to exacerbate in many countries, especially in dense urban areas.

A note from the authors

While progress is being made towards making additional spectrum available, and considerable effort is being made to improve spectral efficiency, demand for wireless bandwidth will likely attempt to outstrip these improvements in supply for at least several years. Major metropolitan areas in some geographies should expect to see continued deterioration in end user experience. The other alternative is that carriers may want to increase what they charge for data and speeds: if spectrum truly is a scarce resource, then using price to signal its value is likely to reduce demand to the point where service standards do not fall.

End users will continue to see performance impacts as a result of spectrum exhaustion, primarily in the form of lower speeds, but also through inability to access networks and dropped calls or sessions. The reason is simple demand for spectrum will exceed supply. Demand for wireless bandwidth continues to grow in leaps and bounds, but supply is relatively constrained. By 2014 the US alone may suffer a 275 MHz spectral “deficit”. Read the report to explore more.

The looming spectrum shortage: worse before it gets better

What does spectrum shortage mean and what does Deloitte predict for 2013? Why can governments not just increase the “supply” of spectrum, and might we see the equivalent of digital toll roads? What emerging technologies have the potential to address some of these spectrum concerns?



Duncan Stewart, Director of TMT Research, Deloitte Canada, and co-author of TMT Predictions.

Kelly McDonald, a consulting manager within Deloitte Canada's technology practice.


Stephen Heasley, Global Online Communications, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

The looming spectrum shortage: worse before it gets better
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