Wednesday, April 16
As the FCC continues to design its upcoming incentive spectrum auction, 78 House Democrats have penned a letter — led by Congressmen John Barrow and Bennie G. Thompson — encouraging the Commission to maximize the benefits of the auction by ensuring they are open to all entities willing to bid. An excerpt from the letter:
For the auction to be a success, the Commission should maximize participation by both broadcasters incented to relinquish their spectrum rights and bidders seeking to buy those rights in the spectrum auction. In fact, inviting as many bidders as possible to compete in an open and fair auction on equal terms will allow for the full market price for spectrum to be realized and, in turn, lead to higher compensation to incent greater broadcaster participation resulting in more spectrum for the auction.
We agree with the position taken by the House Democrats. As our Honorary Chairman, former Congressman Rick Boucher, wrote in an op-ed for Light Reading last year:
In order to meet these multiple needs simultaneously, it’s essential that the auction be open to all financially qualified bidders. Some have suggested that the largest mobile carriers be restricted in their ability to participate fully in the auction in order to favor smaller carriers. Limiting the ability of the largest carriers to purchase the spectrum their customers are demanding will mean fewer services for consumers and lower auction proceeds, rendering very difficult the challenge of meeting all of the competing and urgent demands for the auction revenues.
Moreover, it is not at all clear that spectrum acquisition restrictions on the largest carriers would actually promote competition.
Monday, April 14
In an op-ed for Roll Call, IIA Broadband Ambassador Kristian Ramos makes the case for modernizing our nation’s networks. An excerpt:
As consumers continue to flee the aging telephone network, modernizing our telecommunications law is essential to provide the right incentives to accelerate high-speed broadband deployment and establish a regulatory framework that advances key consumer protections unique to 21st century broadband networks. Rules designed to address the antiquated telephone system during a monopoly era are ill equipped to promote a level playing field among numerous technologies and high speed broadband network providers. Robust and vibrant wireless and wired broadband is key to advancing economic opportunity, education, and civic engagement, and strengthening our global competitiveness.
You can read Ramos’ full op-ed at Roll Call.
According to a report by Greg Bensinger and Evelyn M. Rusli in the Wall Street Journal, online commerce giant Amazon is about to take a cannonball into the smartphone market:
Amazon.com Inc. is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of this year, according to people briefed on the company’s plans, part of a broad push into hardware that would pit it against Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
The retailer has been demonstrating versions of the handset to developers in San Francisco and its hometown Seattle in recent weeks, these people said. People briefed on the company’s plans have been told that Amazon aims to announce the phone by the end of June and begin shipping phones by the end of September, ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The people said Amazon hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses, these people said. They said the phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to holograms.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and now Amazon… what U.S. tech company won’t have a smartphone soon?
At the Washington Post, Cecilia Kang has an extensive profile of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. An excerpt:
“I’m not sitting here sucking eggs,” Wheeler said at his first public meeting in November, a warning shot of what was to come. “I’m looking seriously at these issues.”
Such candor has defied early assumptions about President Obama’s FCC pick. The former lobbyist was pegged by many as a lame-duck regulator, likely to lay low and stick to worker-bee issues.
Instead, the 68-year-old has eagerly grasped a national megaphone on the defining — and the utterly arcane — telecom policy issues of the day.
Kang’s full profile is worth checking out. And for an extensive look at the issues Wheeler’s FCC faces, read our Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher’s op-ed from November for Bloomberg Government.
Remember kids, joking about terrorism on Twitter — especially in response to an airline — is a really, really, really bad idea.
Tuesday, April 08
Miss our Internet Academy on the future of America’s telecommunications policy yesterday? We’ve got you covered.
Monday, April 07
Earlier today we held our latest Internet Academy, which featured former House Energy and Commerce Chairmen Rick Boucher and Jack Field discussing the past and future of America’s communications policies. We’ll have archive of the event up soon, but in the meantime, The Hill‘s Julian Hattern has a write-up. Check it out.
Wednesday, April 02
Monday’s move by the Federal Communications Commission to open up the 5GHz band for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed uses has the potential to kickstart the expansion of new, faster Wi-Fi technology. That’s a win — for consumers, for innovation, and for America’s digital infrastructure.
But even as those of us who have long pushed for expanded high-speed Internet access pop champagne corks, it’s worth noting that the FCC’s action is just a step in what should really be a sprint by the Commission when it comes to making more spectrum available for mobile broadband. As Commissioner Ajit Pai said in his statement:
“If we’re to keep pace with consumers expectations, we need more 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum, not just better use of existing 5GHz Wi-Fi spectrum. We must redouble our efforts on making an additional 195MHz of spectrum available for unlicensed use.”
Commissioner Pai is right on the money, but that quote only tells half the story. In order to a) keep up with consumer demand, and b) truly advance mobile broadband deployment and speeds across the country, the FCC must also make more licensed spectrum available for commercial use. Or, as Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel succinctly put it, “Good spectrum policy requires a balance of licensed and unlicensed [spectrum].”
Again, the FCC’s 5GHz Wi-Fi move is worth celebrating. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. To quote Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, “We need to be ambitious in finding more ways to provide licensed and unlicensed spectrum for commercial services.” And with consumer demand for mobile broadband not likely to diminish anytime soon, the clock is ticking.
Wednesday, March 26
The last significant revision of the Communications Act occurred in 1996. Since then, innovation and competitive markets have dramatically altered the way consumers receive communications services. While the world of phones, computers, and the Internet has completely changed over the last 18 years, the nation’s telecommunications regulatory framework remains the same.
With the House Committee on Energy and Commerce seeking recommendations on how best to modernize the Communications Act, our next Internet Academy will feature two key architects of the 1996 Act, IIA Honorary Chairman Rick Boucher and former House Energy and Commerce Chairman Jack Fields.
Boucher and Fields will discuss a wide range of policy issues, including:
• The pervasive and rapidly developing role of broadband networks in the delivery of modern communications, in contrast to the market landscape in 1996.
• How Current policy impacts broadband investment.
• The obstacles and opportunities facing lawmakers as they embark on modernizing the legal and regulatory framework that oversees the nation’s communications industry.
• Recommendations to help spur investment and innovation in America’s 21st Century digital economy.
Tuesday, March 25
So far, Google Glass has had a bit of a bumpy road to launch. One major hurdle for the device — which allows wearers to keep track of messages, emails, and even record video — has been its design, which can charitably be called awkward. But now, as Taylor Hatmaker of Read Write Web reports, the company is aiming to make things a bit more stylish:
In a post on its Google+ page, the Glass team announced a major new partnership with the Luxottica Group, an Italian company that quietly owns more than 80% of the world’s eyewear brands. That massive portfolio includes not only iconic eyewear makers like Ray-Ban and Oakley but also the eyewear divisions of Prada, Persol, DKNY, Versace, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and, well, the list goes on.
Whether designers of note will be able to make Google Glass more appealing to everyday consumers remains to be seen, but anything that makes users look less like a cyborg can only be a good thing.