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.
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.
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!
This week, I attended a Broadband Breakfast panel session on “The Wired Home and Wireless Policy.” The discussion focus was a hot topic: the need for more spectrum and spectrum auctions.
First speaker Rick Kaplan, FCC’s Wireless Bureau Chief, spoke about the state of federal legislation for incentive auctions. The FCC wants to maintain authority to manage the auctions and is concerned that Congress will bind its hands. Rick said the FCC doesn’t envision blocking any providers from the auction, but at the same time the FCC needs the flexibility to manage the auctions. The FCC’s auction management is one issue of concern in Congress.
After Kaplan’s remarks, three other panelists spoke about these issues. Gary Shapiro, Consumer Elecronic Association’s (CEA) President and CEO, spoke about the myriad wireless devices that use an incredible amount of data, and these products assume there will be sufficient spectrum to support their use – pointing out that this is a flawed assumption. I completely agree with Shapiro’s remarks. It’s so exciting to see all the great new devices that are out in the marketplace — and soon to be available — and consumers are adopting them at a rapid pace. We need to make sure there is sufficient spectrum to support this explosion of devices and services.
Walter McCormick, USTA’s President and CEO, made the important point that over 99% of wireless services connect to a wired network and it’s critical to continue to support investment in fiber networks. Fred Campbell, President and CEO of Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI) also spoke about the rapid pace of consumer adoption of wireless technologies. Finally, Grant Seiffert, Telecommunications Industry Association’s (TIA) President, called on Congress to move forward on passing legislation for incentive auctions for spectrum.
It was an interesting panel discussion, highlighting the important need for more spectrum to support the growing demand of our wireless services and devices, as well providing some opportunity to discuss issues related to how the auctions might unfold
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas provides the opportunity to see every new and upcoming tech device in the market. I’m lucky enough to be walking the exhibit floors once again this year, checking out the cool, new devices and to see what technology has in store for consumers.
There’s always a good amount of floor space dedicated to entertainment: 3D TV (with and without glasses), video cameras smaller than our cell phones, video games that get us moving and seem so real. While these new offerings certainly are fun, I’m always more interested in the technology that improves and enhances our lives. This year, I’ve seen new and improved devices for smart homes, smart cars, smart phones, and other mobile devices. The greatest technological advancement I have seen is how all these devices are seemingly now integrated, allowing the power of each device to build on the next.
Additionally, the tablet is still a hot item at CES, with improvements on size and technology. It will be interesting to see how consumers react to the tablet market. Will they want the smaller tablet that is easier to carry and, with the phone features, appears to be more like a wireless phone? Or will they want a larger tablet with a more detailed screen that offers different benefits? It will be interesting to see where this market goes.
Well, I’m going back for another spin of the floor at CES today, to view what other technology consumer trends are coming for this year.
I just read David Honig’s Huffington Post piece on wireless broadband and it’s a breath of fresh air. He really captures the impact wireless broadband has on minority communities today. The piece, “More Wireless Broadband Is What Consumers Want, U.S. Needs to Close the Digital Divide,” counters the assumption that wireline, not wireless, broadband is the only option for minority communities to get the services they need.
Honig provides several points to support the conclusion that wireless broadband actually can help to close the digital divide. A Pew survey referenced in his blog supports the fact that African Americans and Hispanics have high rates of connectivity to the Internet via their wireless devices and are active users of mobile services. As Honig notes, wireless continues to offer the best opportunity for broadband access for minority communities.
The piece goes on to point out that consumers can use a wireless device to access the Internet for education, health, and information services. Also, today wireless broadband devices are not limited to smartphones, and small business increasingly rely on wireless service. I also agree that investment in the build out of faster wireless broadband networks is a top priority. Companies have been making the extraordinary investment to build out an increasing faster network, bringing better services to more consumers.
For more information on this subject, the blog references some great surveys and studies that have been done on this subject — so check it out here.