ITIF Panel: Tech Innovations on the Road
ITIF Panel: Tech Innovations on the Road

I attended a panel discussion, hosted by ITIF (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), all about how the world of transportation is undergoing a dramatic transformation thanks to innovations in technology. A panel of representatives from both the automotive industry... Read The Story...

Archive for January, 2012

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Data Privacy Day  

Data Privacy Day 2012, which took place on January 28, marked a day full of programs and events across the country. Here in Washington, D.C., an excellent program was convened last week featuring Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Julie Brill following by two panels.

Commissioner Brill’s opening statement focused on the importance for consumers to be able to trust that their information will be secure when they are engaging in the online world, an issue I wholeheartedly agree with. Brill also discussed how the FTC is working to help facilitate consumer trust by emphasizing several principles: privacy by design and Do Not Track, and more transparency (consumers knowing what information about themselves is collected, so that they can correct it).

The first panel of experts which included Ari Schwartz, with the US Department of Commerce, as well as representatives from Intel and Comcast, addressed an interesting question: Can you take strong steps to ensure national security and still protect individual privacy? All agreed that the two are not incompatible and that privacy and security are two sides of the same coin. The second panel offered an opportunity for representatives from several companies, AT&T, Facebook, MasterCard, and eBay, to discuss their privacy and security products and services – a panel I found interesting, as well.

It was an stimulating and timely program, addressing important issues of concern for consumers engaging in the online world today: protecting privacy and security.

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Guest Post: The Mobile Opportunity  

Guest Blog by Allison Remsen, Executive Director of Mobile Future

I recently had the chance to spend some time at the Consumer Electronics Show and I have to say – this is an amazing time to work in the wireless sector.

From mobile heart and glucose monitors to connected cars to networked refrigerators that can update your shopping list when someone finishes the milk – we’re seeing huge growth in the area of connected devices. Not only are the devices talking to us, they are increasingly talking to each other and helping streamline our everyday lives.

Mobile Future took a closer look back at the wireless growth and opportunities in our 2011 Mobile Year in Review. This animated video includes some amazing statistics and shows how quickly the mobile space is evolving.

It’s also a great reminder that the U.S. mobile sector is leading the wireless revolution both in technology and competition.

The U.S. significantly leads the world in 4G subscribers, which is great news for consumers, the mobile innovation community and the nation’s economy. The American wireless market is also highly competitive with two-thirds of us able to choose from among five or more wireless providers and a broad array of service choices.

Last week, Rob Shapiro and Kevin Hassett released a paper with NDN looking at the employment growth in the transition from 2G to 3G networks and conservatively found that since 2007, in the face of extremely difficult economic times, the wireless sector added 1.5 million jobs and they project similar growth with the transition to 4G.

Much of this is being fueled by the next-generation of devices and what we can do with them. But this increased usage and growth lead to some significant policy and engineering questions.

Spectrum is the ‘invisible infrastructure’ that makes all wireless connectivity possible, but we’re running out of it fast, especially as we see an explosion in 4G devices and the benefits of high-speed services that come with them.

Here are some staggering statistics:
• U.S. mobile networks are already running at 80% capacity compared to the world average of 65%.
• According to the FCC, by next year, we will exceed existing capacity on U.S. wireless networks.
• In 2015, tablets will generate as much traffic as the entire global mobile network of 2010.
• The iPhone 4S consumes twice as much data as the 4G version and on average three times as much data as the iPhone 3G due to data-hungry features such as the voice-based assistant software Siri.

So where do we go from here and what does it mean for consumers?

A spectrum crunch will mean more than longer downloads and more dropped calls. It will mean missed opportunities, and slower innovation, and slower job growth.

There’s broad agreement that we’re facing a serious problem and legislation before Congress would establish voluntary spectrum auctions to repurpose broadcast spectrum for mobile. That’s one part of the solution. Freeing up unused government spectrum is another.

We are hopeful that Congress will pass spectrum legislation soon, but in a sector that’s moving significantly faster than policymakers, the clock is ticking very loudly.

More information on spectrum and what it means for wireless is available in Mobile Future’s Spectrum Resource Center.

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Holiday Gifts Ride the Network  

What did you get for the holidays this year? Perhaps you were one of the fortunate ones who received a tablet or e-reader – apparently two of the most popular gifts this year. The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released the stats in a report today that reveal that tablet ownership by Americans jumped from 10% to 19% from the period of mid-December and early January. During the same period of time, e-reader ownership in the U.S. also jumped the same percentage, from 10% to 19%. The price point for both the Kindle and the Nook, two popular e-readers, dropped considerably with both offering a device for just under $100.

What does this mean for the tech policy community? These devices all connect to the wireless network, and as I’ve discussed before, more consumers adopting these great devices results in the anticipated spectrum crunch becoming a reality. Bottom line: we need more spectrum to meet consumers growing demand and usage!

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Consumer Resources

Below are additional resources to more information about online privacy.

Consumer Guide to Online Privacy (PDF)
What is 4G Wireless Service? (PDF)
Consumer Online Privacy Survey
2008 Online Safety Survey


Other Organizations

National Caucus and Center on Black Aged:

National Consumers League:





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