Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, engineers from a small Silicon Valley start-up filed their first patent application. Patent No. 5,088,032, entitled “Method and apparatus for routing communications among computer networks,” was ultimately issued in 1992, and provided foundational capability for the interior gateway routing that enables the Internet as we know it. The company was Cisco, which this month becomes one of only a handful of American companies to be awarded its 10,000th U.S. patent.
It was forty years ago when the first mobile wireless call was made. Marty Cooper took to the sidewalk in New York. He held to his head what looked like a 10-inch brick, a clunky device that weighed over two pounds. He spoke, the call went through, and he made history.
Four decades hence, look what that one call wrought. We are now a nation with more mobile phones than people. Half of those phones are smartphones. Add to this the tablets that one in three adults in the U.S. now owns—a number that is growing especially fast.
The White House recently announced a $100 million initiative on spectrum sharing and a “Spectrum Technology Day” to promote innovations in wireless communications, one of the few successful sectors in a sluggish economy.
This proposal could maintain momentum generated earlier this month, when the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to assess the state of the wireless industry—a hearing which revealed a potentially stalled wireless market if spectrum hits capacity.