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CTIA Keynote: Spectrum, Innovation Issues For Wireless Industry

CTIA Keynote: Spectrum, Innovation Issues For Wireless Industry

Image Credit: Photos.com

The wireless industry is poised for growth, however, it has a rather large roadblock that could stop everything: spectrum. The key to further growth in the arena is the opening up of spectrum and forward growth in innovation. That’s what was discussed in a keynote speech at CTIA Wireless on Tuesday.

Sustainability, security and innovation are all key drivers to the wireless industry, as identified by Patrick Riordon, president and CEO of Cellcom and Chairman of CTIA-The Wireless Association. “To accomplish this, CTIA will work with industry members, regulators and legislators to ensure a healthy, efficient and competitive wireless industry,” Riordon said.

Spectrum stands in the way of all of those objectives. “Greater innovation will come when increased spectrum is made available with equality to all carriers,” said Riordon. “It will stimulate worldwide growth of economies,” the CTIA Chairman said during his keynote speech, urging the government to make more spectrum available.

That request was addressed by Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who took the stage after Riordon. He discussed several ways the government is working with CTIA and the wireless industry.

In addressing security concerns, the government has partnered the CTIA as part of an “initiative to tackle the increase in cell phone theft.” These programs will allow phones to be disabled if stolen; and provide password protection and apps that will help locate lost or stolen phones.

While Genachowski discussed security, jobs initiatives and other concerns in the sector, he focused his talk on spectrum. He outlined many ways the government is working to free up spectrum space and push innovation in the wireless industry.

“Last year we became the first country in the world to free up whitespace for unlicensed use,” Genachowski said. While it’s not happening yet, the FCC and the government are working on holding spectrum auctions, and reallocating spectrum currently held by the government and military.  Read More

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FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

“If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it.

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.  Read More

Did Google’s Wardriving Ways Give It a Competitive Edge?

Last week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) let Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) off with a tap on the wrist for hindering the commission’s efforts to investigate allegations that Google was slurping information from WiFi networks with its fleet of mapping vehicles. [*Correction - April 23, 2012]

The search giant’s punishment — a US$25,000 fine leveled on Google by the FCC — earned criticism from privacy advocates as too meek a response to the company’s sins.

However, Google’s competitors should be steamed too, argued John Bumgarner, chief technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.

The information collected by Google with its “wardriving” activities — information like MAC addresses — gave it an edge over competitors like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO), he contended.

“These guys were able to go out and pick up WiFi signals and based on those WiFi signals pinpoint information about users, ” he told TechNewsWorld. “That gave them a huge advantage over Microsoft because then they could do better targeted marketing.”

“It was an unfair competitive advantage,” he said.

Google declined to comment for this item, but spokesperson Christine Chen said the company explained its position on its WiFi snooping in a company blog written two years ago.

“So how did this happen?” asked Google Senior Vice President for Engineering & Research Alan Eustace wrote in that blog. “Quite simply, it was a mistake.

“In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data,” he explained. “A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software …”  Read More

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