Blog posts tagged with 'Wireless'
Friday, June 14
This morning, the White House announced a new series of initiatives aimed at freeing up much-needed spectrum for mobile broadband. From the official White House release:
Today’s initiatives include a Presidential Memorandum directing Federal agencies to enhance the efficiency of their use of spectrum and make more capacity available to satisfy the skyrocketing demand of consumer and business broadband users. The Memorandum directs agencies to increase their collaboration and data-sharing with the private sector, so a full range of stakeholders can contribute its collective expertise to maximizing spectrum efficiency, including through greater sharing of spectrum between Government and commercial users. These efforts will provide access to more spectrum for wireless broadband providers and equipment vendors as they respond to increasingly rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices.
The Memorandum also calls upon Federal agencies to increase public-private research and development (R&D) activities, emphasize spectrum efficiency in Government system procurements and spectrum assignments, and improve the accuracy and scope of their reporting on spectrum usage. It empowers a White House-based Spectrum Policy Team to oversee implementation of the Memorandum and make further recommendations. At the same time, the Memorandum requires appropriate safeguards to protect Government systems that rely on spectrum to keep Americans safe.
For spectrum-strapped providers — and the millions of customers they serve — today’s announcement is a great step toward keeping up with demand. But it’s just that, a step. What is urgently needed is a concerted effort to have large swaths of government owned and underutilized spectrum repurposed for commercial auction. Hopefully these new initiatives set us on a path to get there.
We’ll have more on the President’s announcement later on today.
Monday, June 10
In an opinion piece for Politico, former FCC advisor David Goodfriend weighs in on recent remarks from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel regarding the Commission’s upcoming spectrum incentive auctions:
Rosenworcel articulated how reforms to the FCC’s wireless licensing policy — which allows us to use devices like cellphones and tablet computers — can help millions of consumers and drive job growth in one of the most dynamic sectors of our economy. But her approach should not be limited to telecommunications policy.
Goodfriend goes on to highlight what he’s calling the “Jessica Principles” for crafting spectrum auctions. Among them is putting consumers first, making the process open and transparent, adhering to simplicity:
Well-intentioned, bright people in government often come up with ridiculously complex answers to difficult questions. Every good manager will tell you, though, that simplicity is its own virtue. We should pursue it wherever possible. Rosenworcel addressed one of the most complex tasks facing the FCC today: how to design a license auction where broadcasters have an incentive to sell their licenses back to the public and wireless providers have an incentive to buy those licenses and turn them into useful wireless broadband services for the public. Complex recommendations abound. Rosenworcel’s call for simplicity should be heeded.
Wednesday, June 05
Yesterday, Sen. John Thune, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation delivered prepared remarks for the Committee’s hearing on the State of Wireless Communications. TMCnet has posted the entirety of Thune’s remarks, but here’s a couple highlights.
On the pressing need for more spectrum, Thune said:
“Without enough spectrum, the private sector will not be able to keep pace with consumer demand, which is growing exponentially. We must make it a priority to increase the availability of spectrum for commercial use, both licensed and unlicensed, as quickly as possible.”
As for how the FCC’s upcoming spectrum incentive auctions should be crafted:
“Getting more spectrum into the marketplace, to the parties that value it most, is ultimately the best way for Federal policymakers to encourage new services and spur competition. Unfortunately, some voices, including the Department of Justice, are calling for the Federal Communications Commission to micromanage the allocation of spectrum among wireless carriers. I stand with Chairman Upton, Chairman Walden, and my other colleagues in the House who challenged this perspective in a letter to the FCC in April. I believe the Commission should not pick winners or losers among individual companies, but instead let all interested participants freely compete against one another in the open market.”
Sen. Thune’s full remarks are definitely worth checking out.
Wednesday, March 27
Over on his blog Maximum Entropy, Bret Swanson (who is one of our Broadband Ambassadors) digs in to the FCC’s latest Wireless Competition Report:
Each year the Federal Communications Commission is required to report on competition in the mobile phone market. Following Congress’s mandate to determine the level of industry competition, the FCC, for many years, labeled the industry “effectively competitive.” Then, starting a few years ago, the FCC declined to make such a determination. Yes, there had been some consolidation, it was acknowledged, yet the industry was healthier than ever — more subscribers, more devices, more services, lots of innovation. The failure to achieve the “effectively competitive” label was thus a point of contention.
This year’s “CMRS” — commercial mobile radio services — report again fails to make a designation, one way or the other. Yet whatever the report lacks in official labels, it more than makes up in impressive data.
For example, it shows that as of October 2012, 97.2% of Americans have access to three or more mobile providers, and 92.8% have access to four or more. As for mobile broadband data services, 97.8% have access to two or more providers, and 91.6% have access to three or more.
Swanson goes on to point out that the problem with the FCC not taking a stance on whether the wireless industry is competitive may have more to do with the definition of competitive:
The industry has grown so large, with so many interconnected and dynamic players, it may have outgrown Congress’s request for a specific label.
Tuesday, March 26
In a smart piece for Fierce Wireless, Anna-Maria Kovacs, Visiting Senior Policy Scholar at Georgetown University, looks at the FCC’s latest Wireless Competition report:
Of course, consumers have myriad other choices with regard to their wireless experience. They choose among various types of service plans: paid v. prepaid, individual v. family, limited v. unlimited, various mixes of voice/text/data. They also choose among hundreds of devices, a few operating systems, and millions of applications. By the time a consumer has chosen a carrier, a service plan, a device, and operating system, that individual has chosen among literally hundreds of possibilities. It is not surprising that this intense competition at various levels of the wireless ecosystem has provided Americans with the lowest prices and the greatest value in the world.
Kovacs’ analysis echoes our own take on the FCC’s report.
Monday, March 25
Via Phil Goldstein of Fierce Wireless, the FCC is aiming to free up some significant frequencies for wireless use within a year:
The FCC signaled it plans to auction new spectrum blocks, the 1695-1710 MHz band and the 1755-1780 MHz band, as early as 2014, giving the CTIA and wireless carriers another victory in their quest to free up more radio waves for mobile broadband.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote about the planned auction in a letter to Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. By law the FCC needs to notify the NTIA at least 18 months prior to the start of any auction.
Friday, March 22
Today, the FCC released its 2013 Wireless Competition Report. Rather predictably, the Commission has once again avoided concluding that the wireless market is competitive — despite the fact that four out of five consumers have a choice of five or more wireless service providers. In 2010, the Commission reversed the findings of six successive reports that acknowledged the mobile market’s success.
More Americans are choosing smartphones when they purchase a new phone (67 percent in 2012), and more are using them to go online (104 million in 2011). And according to today’s FCC report, “It is estimated that U.S. mobile data traffic increased 270 percent from 2010 to 2011, and that it has more than doubled each year for the past four years.”
The Commission is painting a picture of the market with this shade of gray to leave room for justification of future wireless regulation. But interestingly enough, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski this morning stated: “Today, the U.S. broadband economy is thriving. The United States has regained global leadership in key areas of broadband innovation and infrastructure. Thanks to innovative American companies and entrepreneurs — and smart government policies — the U.S. is now the envy of the world in advanced wireless networks, devices, applications, among other areas.”
When measured by availability of consumer choices, options for consumer plans, device alternatives, apps or services, the American wireless market is extraordinarily competitive, far more so than practically any other sector of our economy. Failing to find “effective competition,” as the FCC has again done in this report, is not reflective of market realities.
Federal policy makers should redouble their efforts to make additional spectrum available for auction to commercial broadband providers by quickly conducting incentive auctions, approving secondary market transactions, enacting spectrum sharing arrangements and initiating a process to repurpose additional federal spectrum.
Monday, March 18
More and more Americans are “cutting the cord” and turning to wireless for their communication needs, which has prompted CTIA to put together this great infographic on today’s “Wireless Family.”
Friday, March 08
The folks at CTIA have put together a handy list of 50 wireless facts. Among them:
The wireless industry directly/indirectly employs more than 3.8 million Americans, which accounts for 2.6% of all U.S. employment. In addition, wireless employees are paid 65% higher than the national average for other workers.
Total private sector jobs fell by 5.3 million between April 2007 and June 2011, but the U.S. wireless industry added almost 1.6 million new jobs in the same time period.
As of December 2011, 34 percent of American households were wireless-only.
Despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population and less than 6 percent of the world’s total wireless subscribers, the U.S. has more than half of global LTE subscribers.
There’s lots more where those came from. Head on over to CTIA and dig in.
Thursday, March 07
At an event hosted by the Hudson Institute earlier today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai discussed the transition to all-IP networks. During his speech, Pai spoke of two paths the Commission could take when it comes to regulations and technology. One path is rooted in the past — and outdates rules — that could hinder investment and innovation. The other path leads to the future, or the “all-IP world,” as he called it, which has great benefits for health care, education, public safety, and most of all consumers.
Noting that the FCC up until now had a foot on each path, Pai didn’t shy away from his belief that the Commission should be working toward the future, stating the FCC’s decisions around the IP transistion will have “dramatic and real world consequences.” He then made plain his preference for a pilot program — put forward to the FCC by AT&T — to upgrade legacy copper networks to all-IP. As John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports:
“The FCC has sought and received comments on a proposal to create an All-IP Pilot Program,” Pai said in a speech to the Hudson Institute. “I’ve reviewed the record carefully. And having done so, I am proposing today that the FCC move forward with this program.”
Pai also noted that in 2011 alone, there were over 317 million wireless connections in the U.S., and at least 47% of all households had “cut the cord” — meaning, dropped traditional landline service in favor of wireless or VoIP. This, he joked, pointed to the IP transition being as “inevitable as another reality series starring a Kardashian.”
You can watch a replay of Pai’s speech here.
Wednesday, January 23
Over at Bloomberg BNA, Paul Barbagallo highlights renewed focus from President Obama and Congress to make more spectrum available for the ever-growing wireless industry:
For much of the last four years, federal policymakers have worked aggressively to find swaths of frequencies that could be made available to wireless carriers to help meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for smartphones and tablet computers, which require more radio spectrum to carry their data transmissions—significantly more than what is needed to carry cellular telephone calls.
That work will continue this year, starting at the FCC.
Later in the piece, our own Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman is quoted:
“I think we’re going to see bipartisan interest in both inventorying and transferring spectrum from federal government use to private-sector use,” Bruce Mehlman, co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance, a coalition of nonprofits and corporations, including telecom carriers and equipment makers, told BNA.
Mehlman, former assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy under George W. Bush, noted that for the last four years, Congress has placed much of its attention on passing legislation to authorize the FCC to hold incentive auctions.
“A lot of focus is now going to turn to federal spectrum holdings that could be repurposed,” he said.
This is still an important topic. Barbagallo’s full article is definitely worth checking out.
Monday, January 14
The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen attended CES in Las Vegas last week and came away with an interesting take on how mobility is changing our lives:
For several years, technology companies have promised the dream of the connected home, the connected body and the connected car. Those connections have proved illusory. But in the last year app-powered accessories have provided the mechanism to actually make the connections. That is partly because smartphones have become the device people never put down. But it is also because wireless sensors have become smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous.
Chen’s full piece is worth checking out.
Friday, December 21
35.8%, which is the amount of U.S. households that are now wireless only, according to updated numbers from the CDC. That’s a lot of people dropping traditional landlines.
Friday, December 07
The Hill‘s Jennifer Martinez highlights some good news on the public safety front:
The four largest wireless carriers in the United States have agreed to speed up their deployment of a text-to-911 service, which will allow people to send emergency text messages to local 911 call centers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced on Thursday.
Genachowski said AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are expected to rollout the text-to-911 service in 2013 and the carriers have committed to making the service available nationwide by May 2014.
All told, 90% of wireless users in the U.S. will be able to use the new service.
Wednesday, November 14
The National Journal‘s Juliana Gruenwald reports that with the FCC’s incentive auctions gearing up, a group of broadcasters has banded together to work with the Commission:
The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition will press to obtain the best conditions for broadcasters as the FCC implements legislation passed in February that authorizes the use of incentive auctions to free up TV stations’ spectrum for use by wireless broadband providers.
According to John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, the FCC’s chief is down with the idea:
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski Tuesday gave an “open, transparent and data-driven” shout-out to the new Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which is being organized by former broadcast exec and one time Association for Independent Television Stations president Preston Padden.
“Incentive auctions will offer significant opportunities for broadcasters—both those that will take advantage of a once in a lifetime financial opportunity, and those that will choose to continue to be a part of a healthy and diverse broadcast marketplace,” said the chairman in response to the creation of the coalition. “I welcome the participation of the new Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition in our rulemaking process as the Commission engages all stakeholders in a manner that is open, transparent and data-driven.”
Monday, October 29
With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east coast, safety is on everyone’s mind. And a key to safety during times of crisis is communication.
Back in June, Gregg Riddle, President of the Daytona Beach-based Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, penned a helpful op-ed for the Daytona Beach News-Journal with tips on how you — with the help of your smartphone — can play a role in helping protect yourself and your family during natural disasters:
• Keep your phone fully charged, and keep it dry by placing it in a sealable plastic bag if you will be in an area where you may be exposed to water.
• Forward your home number to your wireless phone, so you are able to receive all calls regardless of your location.
• Learn community hurricane-evacuation routes and how to find shelter on higher ground. Location-based mapping on your smartphone can help with this.
• Make a family communications plan. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should identify a contact out-of-state who can take calls from household members. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Also, be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cellphone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cellphone, program that contact person as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to contact someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
Riddle also highlighted the role app developers now play by creating useful storm-tracking tools, and how wireless providers — via investment and innovation — work overtime to help affected areas stay connected:
As part of a commitment to emergency preparedness, wireless carriers are also taking numerous steps to be ready for emergencies, such as adding capacity to their wireless networks to support increased call volume, including emergency 9-1-1 calls and setting up portable generators. After a storm, carrier-driven response efforts include deploying mobile cell sites and command centers, emergency-communications vehicles, and even a self-sufficient “base camp” for communications-recovery workers.
Riddle’s full op-ed is definitely worth checking out. Stay safe everyone!
Wednesday, October 03
Big news in the wireless world today as providers T-Mobile and MetroPCS have agreed to a merger. At The Hill, Brendan Sasso reports:
Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, agreed to buy MetroPCS on Wednesday, a move that will solidify T-Mobile’s standing as a national competitor in the wireless marketplace.
MetroPCS shareholders will receive $1.5 billion in cash and 26 percent ownership of the combined company, which will keep the T-Mobile name.
Secondary market transactions like this one are the fastest way to get spectrum to market while the FCC focuses on incentive auctions, spectrum sharing and making progress toward reallocating government spectrum not being put to its highest and best use.
The proposed merger will need regulatory approval to go forward. The press release from T-Mobile and Metro PCS is after the jump.
Monday, September 17
According to John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable, the FCC has released a model of what a spectrum auction could look like to interested parties:
The model is described as essentially a “tab A in slot B” description of the process, from reverse auction clock countdowns, to running the winning bids through the FCC’s modeling for reconfiguring that spectrum, to the spectrum’s re-auction to wireless, soliciting questions all along the way.
The model talks about cross-border spectrum arrangements and says there will probably have to be different rules for stations along the shared border with Canada and Mexico, seeking comment on what those should be.
Friday, September 07
Some big news on the spectrum front today, as Todd Shields of Bloomberg reports:
A U.S. agency today will propose acting as the sole buyer for airwaves that television stations will surrender for an auction of spectrum to mobile providers led by Verizon Wireless, two officials said.
The idea is among several being advanced by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski for the auction planned for 2014, said the agency officials, who spoke yesterday on condition of not being identified because the matter hasn’t been made public.
As for the FCC’s plan to purchase airwaves, Shields writes:
The FCC plans to buy airwaves that some TV stations will voluntarily relinquish in a process known as a reverse auction. It would then sell the frequencies in a traditional auction. The FCC will seek public comment before it settles next year on rules for the auction, the officials said.
Meanwhile, at The HIll, Brendan Sasso has more:
A senior FCC official explained that the commission is aiming for an aggressive 2014 deadline because it plans to buy back the spectrum and hold the auctions almost simultaneously.
The official noted that no country has attempted such a spectrum buy back and auction before, but he emphasized that the commission is being advised by “world-famous” experts in economics and engineering.
Both Shields and Sasso report CTIA is “very pleased” that the process is beginning, but it’s still unknown how many TV stations — if any — will be willing to offer up their spectrum for sale. The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal sometime this month. Stay tuned…
Tuesday, September 04
Over the holiday weekend, FOX News published an op-ed from our Co-Chairman Bruce Mehlman on the important roll wireless technology is playing in the lives of America’s soliders at home and abroad. Here’s a taste:
As the Internet continues to transform military activities, wireless technology in particular is enabling better, real-time communications with members of our armed forces abroad. For example, the time difference between the United States and Afghanistan means that many communications take place during the morning and afternoon hours in the US, when many are at work. Being able to use a video or voice call app, such as Skype, e-mail, or a chat service, such as Google Talk, on a smartphone enables couples and families to connect in real-time.
Check out Mehlman’s full piece at FOX News.