Answering public's concerns about 'smart meters'

As the U.S. power sector makes investments to modernize the electric grid, one of the basic building blocks is the “smart meter,” which more than half of all U.S. households are expected to receive by 2015. As is the case with any new technology, many consumers are raising questions—what do these new meters do, how will they benefit me, and are they safe? Consumers need and deserve a clear response.

One major benefit is that smart meters improve electric system reliability by providing to utilities near real-time information about electricity use, enabling the utilities to identify and respond more quickly to potential problems that can lead to power outages and act more quickly if an outage occurs. In addition, their two-way communication ability means that customers can receive more accurate information about their electricity use, enabling them to change their consumption habits in a way that lowers their bills.


Congress must pass effective privacy legislation to protect our children

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects the privacy of children online who are under the age of 13. The act also stipulates how Websites should seek parental consent when communicating with these minors. The collection of personal information when children use apps on mobile device appears to be less of a worry for companies though, which has the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerned.


Our dishonest debate over NSA spying

The House of Representatives recently signed off on another five years of sweeping warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, voting by a wide margin to extend the controversial FISA Amendments Act of 2008. But the debate on the House floor showed that the law’s staunchest supporters either don’t understand what the law really says and does—or don’t care.


International law takes on cyber: significant challenges ahead

Speaking at the U.S. Cyber Command Inter-Agency Legal Conference last week, U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh confirmed the U.S. position that international law is applicable to the cyber environment.


As Congress turns attention to federal Spectrum, clearing must be the priority

With the announcement of the latest iPhone device this week, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on how more efficient spectrum use by government agencies can translate into benefits for not only millions of American mobile broadband consumers, but for the economy itself. The timing for the hearing couldn’t be better, for it underscores that in a time of ever-increasing consumer demand for mobile services, the goal of freeing up underutilized federal spectrum for commercial mobile services must continue to be one of the nation’s highest technology and economic priorities.


Patent perspective

If you’ve listened to commentators on Apple’s patent case against Samsung, you might think last month’s verdict will send us back to the days of payphones and dial-up internet. Some are claiming it will lead to higher prices and reverse the trend of innovation, and others are calling for an end to software patents.


FTC should block the Universal/EMI merger

Antitrust enforcement has seen a welcome revival during President Obama’s first term. A highlight of this resurgence was the Department of Justice’s suit to block the proposed mega-merger between AT&T and T-Mobile last fall. Following an exhaustive investigation, the DOJ challenged and ultimately blocked the proposed merger in an effort to maintain a competitive wireless marketplace and ensure that the antitrust laws remained, as Justice Marshall stated, “the Magna Carta for free enterprise.”


Congress, White House must work towards a strong space policy

Like millions of Americans, I mourn the loss of Neil Armstrong, a personal hero and a national icon. One of my earliest childhood memories was of watching the Eagle lunar module land on the Moon and later that night, my parents waking us to see history in the making as Neil stepped out of the “LEM” onto the lunar surface. It was an historic first step by a human being on another celestial body.

The accomplishments of the Apollo moon missions are on my mind and even more so with the passing of Neil Armstrong. Why? Because leaving the Moon in 1972 with no planned return was like winning the Super Bowl, then skipping the playoffs for more than forty years. America's absence from the field of human space exploration is not the result of a lack of talent, but from a failure to develop a game plan and the visionary leadership to see it through.


Solving commercial aviation's $27 billion 'weather problem'

On June 29, a “super derecho,” a quick-moving wind and thunder storm, slammed 700-miles along the east coast including the Washington metro area, leaving 3.5 million households without power and causing 22 deaths. Unfortunately, most people had no idea it was coming until it was overhead.
Imagine the effect the storm had on the thousands of aircraft in-flight that evening and on airports with thousands of passengers and dozens of scheduled departures and arrivals every hour.


Is the FCC serious about broadband deployment?

Rarely has an agency exhibited a greater degree of schizophrenia than the FCC did last week, when it issued its Eighth Broadband Progress Report (Broadband Report) and its Special Access Report and Order. One decries the lack of broadband access for the 6 percent of the U.S. population that lives in the most sparsely populated areas. The other encourages America’s largest enterprises to perpetuate their use of non-broadband networks throughout the U.S.