Don’t blame Siri: She’s not a bandwidth hog and her users are not the problem

“The sky is falling again in cellular land, and this time Siri is to blame. At least, that’s the assessment from an opinion article in the Washington Post Friday morning claiming Siri not only unleashed a huge new pattern of data consumption on mobiles, but that in return, her piggy ways destroy the experience for the rest of us because of the shared nature of cellular networks,” Stacey Higginbotham reports for GigaOM. “Paul Farhi, the author of the piece, makes a couple of errors (or maybe omissions is kinder) that are worth pointing out to the policy wonks in D.C., especially as they contemplate bills that would gut the FCC’s ability to make spectrum policy in the U.S. for the sake politics.”
“Siri, the natural language processing service that Apple introduced on the iPhone 4S doesn’t consume the data that Farhi says she does in his article, ‘Siri’s dirty little secret is that she’s a bandwidth guzzler, the digital equivalent of a 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H1.’ Siri consumes very little data in sending your voice back to the servers to figure out what you want the phone to do, but what it does is make it that much easier to surf the web,” Higginbotham reports. “Farhi seems to understand this, but his first characterization is blatantly false. Siri isn’t guzzling data, she’s making it easier for us to do so. We’re the guzzlers.”

Higginbotham reports, “We can keep Siri and still call grandma, here’s how… Passing a spectrum bill that allows for more unlicensed airwaves would be a start, as would leaving the FCC to deal with the highly technical issues surrounding spectrum auctions. Pushing the FCC to investigate special access fees would also help, as it might lower the rate of bringing a fiber pipe out to areas so ISPS can support large-scale Wi-Fi or White Spaces networks. But first we have to have the understanding of how the wireless and cellular networks work, so we can propose viable solutions, instead of blaming applications that make our lives better for congesting our network.”

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