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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Great music has always had a way of spreading, no matter the technology or the era. In ancient times, if a song had that special something, it was passed down orally, person to person, family to family, from generation to generation. Today, technology enables us to hear the latest hit almost as soon as it is created and recorded. And digital music innovators like LastFM, Music Choice, Pandora, SiriusXM and countless others are making it easier than ever to hear the music we love, whenever and wherever. Whether it’s at home, at work, or on our mobile devices, the benefits of our nation’s creative community are now available at the touch of a button (or click of a mouse).
The ink has barely dried on the Leahy America Invents Act and two Congressmen felt it necessary last week to introduce another piece of patent reform legislation. This one, called the Saving High–Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012 or the SHIELD Act, is nothing more than a gift to large computer technology companies and their lobbyists and an attack on American inventors.
At a time when the House, Senate, and White House have been unable to come to agreement on a host of issues, the bipartisan consensus on the need to act on cybersecurity has offered some hope for action. The inability of the Senate to proceed to debate the various proposals is thus particularly disappointing. But there is a possible path forward.
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor of Chicago, once famously said: “You never want a serious crisis go to waste.” This is a dictum the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has followed time and again in its effort to force cell phone manufacturers to include radio chips in all of our phones. The latest crisis that elicited yet another NAB lobbying effort were the recent storms that tore through the Washington area on June 29-30.