The report points out the need for the U.S. and other nations to figure out better ways to reallocate spectrum for broadband uses, Levin said. Nearly all useable spectrum is already allocated, he said. "Our current methodology is we wait for a crisis, and the government just takes it back," he said.
Cisco predicted that mobile broadband traffic will be 26 times larger in 2015 than in 2010.
Levin also questioned how a continuing economic downturn would affect the broadband growth numbers. "How are people going to pay for it?" he said.
One critic questioned the Cisco report and its use by the FCC in crafting policy recommendations. Steve Crowley, a consulting engineer, called the Cisco report a "sales brochure." The FCC's national broadband plan referenced Cisco predictions several times, Crowley noted in a March blog post.
"There is overlap between the people who prepare the forecast and the people responsible for marketing Cisco's line of core-network hardware to service providers," he wrote. "The forecast is used to help sell that hardware."
The report is legitimate as a sales document, but policymakers should consider how the company's interest in selling hardware might influence the forecast, he said. Two independent research firms have been more conservative with their traffic predictions in recent years, he said.
"As with any sales pitch, whenever you hear a spectrum claim, consider the source," he wrote.
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