Steve Jobs Envisioned Using Unlicensed Wi-Fi Spectrum for Apple Mobile Phone Network

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Apr 12, 2001
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IDG News Service reports on comments made yesterday by venture capitalist John Stanton claiming that Steve Jobs had been investigating the possibility of using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum as way to bypass carriers in setting up a mobile phone network in the years before the iPhone debuted. While the idea proved to be infeasible, Stanton's description of Jobs' vision fits with the Apple co-founder's overall goal of controlling the entire user experience from end to end.
Stanton, currently chairman at venture capital firm Trilogy Partnership, said he spent a fair amount of time with Jobs between 2005 and 2007. "He wanted to replace carriers," Stanton said of Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who passed away recently after a battle with cancer. "He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision."
According to Stanton, Jobs gave up on the idea by 2007 as the company pursued a more traditional arrangement for the iPhone through existing carriers, but still managed to have a significant influence on eroding the control carriers had previously exerted over the devices on their networks.
"If I were a carrier, I'd be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred," he said.

Companies like Apple and Google, which develops Android, sell a variety of software and services that capture revenue streams that might have otherwise gone to the operators.
Stanton was one of the early entrepreneurs in cellular technology, founding a small company called Western Wireless that later spun out part of itself as VoiceStream and which became T-Mobile USA following a 2001 acquisition by Deutsche Telekom. The remainder of Western Wireless was acquired by Alltel in 2005, and it appears that Jobs' conversations with Stanton occurred immediately after that time.

Article Link: Steve Jobs Envisioned Using Unlicensed Wi-Fi Spectrum for Apple Mobile Phone Network
 

hobo.hopkins

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2008
568
0
I'm not really surprised that he would want to control the network; it always seemed like he was never totally satisfied with using traditional carriers.
 

GFLPraxis

macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
7,113
419
Well, that would've been cool. Still nice to see the amount of power the carriers lost due to the iPhone- which is only a fraction of the kind of absurd power they have in this country.

The carriers- and the conflict of interest that arises due to the money they make with the outdated business model of selling "minutes" and text messages, when it could all be done via data- are the biggest impediment to progress in the mobile world.
 

chris7777

macrumors 6502
Nov 27, 2008
285
0
It's nice to dream about such things, but asking them to relax their stranglhold, would be about as likely as the banking industry sharing, or the oil conglomerations. Not only wont they share, but they dont like the competition either.
 

longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,830
1,348
Falls Church, VA
Glad they abandoned the plan. I can imagine all sorts of technical issues with Apple trying to use 2.4 GHz for phone usage, chief among them being interference with the other technologies, but also with the fact that 2.4 GHz just doesn't give you as good of distance as lower frequency spectrum.

Still, it would be kinda nice to not have to deal with a phone carrier... A nice dream to be sure.
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
9,181
115
I think that would be too big a project. Especially if Apple wanted it worldwide.

He loosened the control on carriers which made a far better impact than Apple having their own WiFi/Cellular network.

I think the iPhone works really well on 3G. There is inconsistencies with some cell companies and reception, but overall, those inconsistencies would be far less than Apple's.

If they had down it, they'd probably have to have a cellular contract too, so it can use 3G/EDGE whenever Apple's WiFi network is unavailable.

.
 

dashiel

macrumors 6502a
Nov 12, 2003
876
0
if this feasible someone would have done it already
It may not have been feasible in 2007, but as I’ve mentioned before 802.22 was finalized this year. 100 kilometer range at 20Mbps. Still might not be feasible, but that doesn’t mean 802.?? won’t be, and with Apple having long term leases on hundreds of stores across the country it would give Apple a huge advantage in setting up a nationwide network. You’ll recall there were photos of Verizon/AT&T were installing LTE equipment in their stores.

I won’t be surprised if there’s an Apple network set up once they get over the transition to iCloud and related product transitions.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Apple had a chance to break the carrier control and Apple failed to do it in the US. Instead it gave in and let the carrier have standard deal. It would of been nice if Apple only sold off contract and required the carriers to give a rate cut (say $10 per month per line) for phones off contract. No phone subsidy pricing but you do get a cheaper rate plan.

Right now if you do not buy a susbitized phone you are still paying the extra price. Well everyone but T-Mobile who does offer a cheaper plan if you go off contract. Hell I would be happy if that deal required a contract to hold on to. Lock in at the lower rate.
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,661
136
the issue is that the spectrum is unlicensed. anyone can transmit at the maxium power as allowed by the FCC. apple could have built the towers but your signal would have been pretty bad due to all the people using their home wifi
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,661
136
Apple had a chance to break the carrier control and Apple failed to do it in the US. Instead it gave in and let the carrier have standard deal. It would of been nice if Apple only sold off contract and required the carriers to give a rate cut (say $10 per month per line) for phones off contract. No phone subsidy pricing but you do get a cheaper rate plan.

Right now if you do not buy a susbitized phone you are still paying the extra price. Well everyone but T-Mobile who does offer a cheaper plan if you go off contract. Hell I would be happy if that deal required a contract to hold on to. Lock in at the lower rate.
very few people would buy a smartphone at the $700 average retail price. i know i wouldn't. mobile internet is not that important
 

wordoflife

macrumors 604
Jul 6, 2009
7,563
34
I would have originally said "this would never happen", but considering all of the things that I originally didn't think would happen (that Jobs said would happen) has happened, I'd say that this will happen one day.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,343
402
Boston, MA
It would be good to have a real alternative to ATT and Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile are not big enough. The FCC need to do something here.

Also they finally need to separate carriers from content.

They can subsidize phones but then they should be forced to let other phones on their network (in case of VZ and Sprint) and they should be forced top offer contracts for unsubsidized phones.
 

slrandall

macrumors 6502
Jun 15, 2011
412
0
It really is amazing, the "eroding" of control over devices that the carriers used to have. Apple, Google, and Microsoft pretty much run the show now. All that the carriers do is squabble over who's got the best data plans/speed.
 

zap2

macrumors 604
Mar 8, 2005
7,241
1
Washington D.C
if this feasible someone would have done it already
You realize the flaws in this comment, right?

What if you had said that about making a success touch screen mobile OS using only one's fingers? Or a about creating a financially successful portable media player?

It's only not feasible until it is.
 

PeterQVenkman

macrumors 68020
Mar 4, 2005
2,023
0
I wonder if Apple's pricing actually would have been more reasonable. Breaking control of telecom carriers is one thing. Competing on price when people are already used to getting bent over a barrel... we'll never know.
 

iRCL

macrumors 6502
Nov 2, 2011
284
0
I have to say that if I were going to pick someone as my wireless carrier, it would be any company except Apple. Can you imagine what they would charge?
 

Winter Charm

macrumors 6502a
Jul 31, 2008
804
270
Well, that would've been cool. Still nice to see the amount of power the carriers lost due to the iPhone- which is only a fraction of the kind of absurd power they have in this country.

The carriers- and the conflict of interest that arises due to the money they make with the outdated business model of selling "minutes" and text messages, when it could all be done via data- are the biggest impediment to progress in the mobile world.
I agree. Why can't I pay for 2GB of data and then use it for whatever I want in one month? :(
 
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