44. Cellular Telephone & Internet Reliability Minimums

Wireless and wired voice and data networks have, and will continue to become, virtually indispensable infrastructures needed to live a normal life. As such, their reliability needs to be ensured so that normal and catastrophic disruptions are kept to a minimum.

Cellular Phones

Cellular phone networks should be required by the government to be reliable (able to perform their intended functions) 99.9% of the time and from 99.9% of the service area from public spaces. This means that only an average cumulative total of 10 minutes per week would be the maximum acceptable period time that a cellular phone would be unable to make a call or perform any other normal function. (This downtime would not include problems with the phone itself, but only the network to which it is connected.)

A service area reliability of 99.9% is harder to ensure primarily because the fewest number of cell towers are spaced as far apart as possible to cover the largest geographical area to encompass the largest possible number of people.  Thus, marginal areas are usually the places that suffer from low or absent cell tower signals. Then, as people travel from one place to another, they travel through such areas and it is very often the case that signals are very poor or lost altogether. Part of the solution to this problem is to require each industry to get together to build, maintain and manage their common infrastructures, such as cell towers. Instead of duplicating their tower overlays like they are doing today, getting the industry together and investing in common infrastructures would enable the savings of large amounts of money and encourage them to focus on filling in gaps in their coverage areas. But perhaps the most effective stimulant for the ultimate solution would be a government mandate that a certain service reliability standard, such as this 99.9% proposal, be met.

It is understandable that many buildings and underground parking structures will severely block signals from being detected. However, these location are likely to be in private locations. Perhaps significantly large areas of poor signal strength in private areas could be covered by the installation of either voluntary or mandatory signal strength boosters. Nevertheless, signal strength as measured from all public locations must be at or above a certain strength level as measured from 99.9% of all publicly accessible locations.

Internet Reliability

The reliability of an internet connection should also be regulated to a minimum standard, such as 99.9%.  This means that 99.9% of the time that any device attempts to connect to the internet, it should be able to do so. The internet is a medium of communication that clearly forms increasingly critical backbone of any society. At this so-called ‘three-nines’ reliability level of 99.9%, any device could expect to not be able to connect to the internet for about 10 minutes per week.  Remember that this is a minimum standard and in real terms, a connection may be significantly more reliable than this.


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