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What You Can’t See at CES is what Really Drives Innovation

By | Technology | No Comments

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest convention of the year in Las Vegas. The organizers estimate that close to 160,000 people will visit the show this week. Attendees come from all over the world to see the latest smartphones, in-vehicle technology, gaming innovations, and home appliances to name just a few. Every square inch of the convention center is packed with new technology – even the parking lots are tented over. But it is what you don’t see here that is really the secret to all these technology advances: the wireless telecommunications infrastructure that differentiates many of these innovations.

Wireless technology is what allows the navigation systems being showcased in many of the vehicles at CES to work. It is how smartphones can show you the latest movies in the palm of your hand. It is what powers the connected homes that give all of us the ability to reduce our energy consumption.  Wireless technology is not only what we want for our electronic s, it is frankly what we need.

This need for wireless technology and services is also putting stress on the airwaves – known as spectrum – on which the information travels. Spectrum is a finite resource and users of it are working hard to develop more innovative and efficient ways to use it. But the users can only do so much. The government plays a major role. The agency that regulates the use of spectrum is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and it has been directed by Congress to repurpose and auction unused or underutilized spectrum. How the FCC handles these auctions could have a major impact on all manufacturers.

The NAM has repeatedly communicated to the FCC the importance of wireless technology to manufacturers. Our member companies use it to communicate with their employees, manage supply chains, and connect with their customers. We have therefore stressed to the FCC that it cannot pick winners and losers when setting up the rules of the road for these auctions. The process should be open to all and no conditions should be placed on the participants. This will ensure the market drives the next wireless innovations and the regulatory process does not unnecessarily slow it down.

SF: Hanging Up a Second Time, for Good Measure

By | Briefly Legal, Communications, Regulations | No Comments

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ decision to impose anti-consumer labeling on cell phones sold in the city is a remarkably anti-business move. CTIA–The Wireless Association — the cell phone industry’s trade association — issued a statement in response:

CTIA and the wireless industry are disappointed that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved the so-called ‘Cell Phone Right-to-Know’ ordinance. Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point of sale requirements suggesting that some phones are ‘safer’ than others based on radiofrequency (RF) emissions. In fact, all phones sold legally in the U.S. must comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s safety standards for RF emissions. According to the FCC, all such compliant phones are safe phones as measured by these standards. The scientific evidence does not support point of sale requirements that would suggest some compliant phones are ‘safer’ than other compliant phones based on RF emissions.

“While we have enjoyed bringing our three day fall show to San Francisco five times in the last seven years, which has meant we’ve brought more than 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and had an economic impact of almost $80 million to the Bay Area economy, the Board of Supervisors’ action has led us to decide to relocate our show. We are disappointed to announce that the 2010 CTIA Enterprise and Applications show in October will be the last one we have in San Francisco for the foreseeable future.  We have already been contacted by several other cities that are eager to work with us and understand the tremendous benefits that wireless technology and our show can provide their area.”

The association also has a website that answers questions about the health effects of cell phone use: www.cellphonehealthfacts.org

Reaction to ‘Net Neutrality’ Speech by FCC Chairman

By | Communications, Regulations, Technology | No Comments

Responses to FCC Chairman Genachowski’s speech proposing a process to arrive at federal “net neutrality” regulations.

The Washington Post reports, “AT&T Says Keep Net Neutrality Rules Off Wireless“:

In response to the announcement, AT&T officials said they would support broadly the principles outlined by Genachowski for their wireline business. They don’t think the rules should apply to wireless.

“We are concerned, however, that the FCC appears ready to extend the entire array of net neutrality requirements to what is perhaps the most competitive consumer market in America, wireless services,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a statement.

From The Hill, “FCC chairman outlines net neutrality rules“:

Verizon Vice President of Regulatory Affairs David Young said the company supports an open Internet, but said placing formal rules over network operations could lead “to unintended consequences.”

“We certainly don’t want to see the Internet locked in stone as it is today,” he said. “The Internet needs to be free to continue to evolve.”

From CTIA — the Wireless Association, a statement from Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Guttman-McCabe, excerpts:

As we have said before, we are concerned about the unintended consequences Internet regulation would have on consumers considering that competition within the industry has spurred innovation, investment, and growth for the U.S. economy.

As a justification for the adoption of rules, the Chairman suggested that one reason for concern ‘has to do with limited competition among service providers.’ This is at the core of our concerns. Unlike the other platforms that would be subject to the rules, the wireless industry is extremely competitive, extremely innovative, and extremely personal. How do the rules apply to the single-purpose Amazon Kindle? How does it apply to Google’s efforts to cache content to provide a better consumer experience? How about the efforts from Apple and Android, Blackberry and Nokia, Firefly and others to differentiate the products and services they develop for consumers? Should all product and service offerings be the same?

Note, as well, Guttman-McCabe’s comments on investment.

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