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Gary Shapiro

Electronics CEO Gary Shapiro Says Broadband Should Not Be Regulated as a Utility

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WASHINGTON, June 9, 2014 – The head of the leading trade association for the electronics industry on Wednesday weighed in against classifying broadband as a utility and subjecting it to extensive government regulation.

Instead, regulators should follow a “minimal harm first” principle, said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, in a speech at the Brookings Institution here.

Seeking to regulate telecom providers under Title II of the Communications Act would punish success. Communications giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Communications should instead be encouraged to invest as much as possible in the U.S. infrastructure, because “we need their broadband.”

“I’m very fearful of suddenly sending those companies into a new area of regulation – like utilities –where you used to regulate every connection and every device,” he said. “It took 100 years from the invention of the telephone to get to the point of competition and it was unhealthy. But I do want what I have today, which is the ability to get anything I want on the internet, so I like things the way they are.”

The condescending treatment of telecom giants has fostered a lack of trust, he continued. Every time government goes after them, it’s “catnip” for Europeans who wish to encourage American tech companies to move overseas.

“Good intentions scare me,” Shapiro said. “I think [we] should be challenging the industry to come up with what they view as the best practice and let industries and bodies like this one (the Brookings Institution) come up with principles, and if the principles are violated, then act.”

Shapiro also criticized recent Europe Union court decisions for its efforts to balkanize and “blockade the internet.”

“The worst thing I can envision is where there are borders around every country and we cannot communicate and share information,” he said. The internet, he said, ” is our gift to the world.” It is “one of the best things that I think history will prove that the U.S. has done.”

The Internet of Everything, 3D Printing, 4K Video, and Robotic Drones: Among Broadband Breakfast’s Top 5 Trends From CES

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LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2014 – Coming to the International Consumer Electronics Show year after year enables a technology observer to see the evolutionary power continuously wrought by the digital revolution.

Herewith follows Broadband Breakfast’s impressionistic list of five top trends emerging from the mammoth trade show here.

As the trade show isn’t even half-over, we’re not aiming for definitiveness with this list. Rather, we aim to glimpse the future of technology in a context that changes with the start of every year.

The Internet of Everything and Wearable Computing

After many years of hype, computing is definitely moving beyond the “three screen” model. In other words, we used to consume digital content primarily through a big-screen TV, a middle-screen computer, and a small-screen mobile phone.

Each of those screens continues to mature and evolve. Now, however, the show’s key highlights show a paradigm shift to wearable computing. These are the connected devices all around us, ready to respond to our beck and call. Intel CEO’s Brian Krzanich keynote about how “tiny is big” echoed a core theme talked about in the sessions and at cocktail parties.

While the number of free-standing “tiny” products on the market is still quite limited, the mindshare and trade show floor space occupied by the concept is surprising large. Witness many flavors of the “connected home,” as championed by mobile chip designer Qualcomm, or telecommunications equipment provider Cisco, or even through prosaic industry consortiums seeking to enable lightbulbs, door locks and lawn-sprinkler systems talk to each other.

The trend doesn’t end there if we include the growing array of personal fitness devices, mobile health tools, and connected cars communicating telematic information. These sorts of products are generating the most buzz at #CES2014 — and will likely have market impact. Even the products that merge of virtual and physical reality into a blended reality are of a part of this “internet of everything,” as they clothe real-world objects with a digital intelligence that enhances their usefulness and playfulness to humans.

3D Printing

There is no doubt that three-dimension printing has a long way to go until it becomes a mainstream consumer electronics technology. But we believe that the emergence of a 3D printing “techzone” heralds the beginnings of trend that is reaching a critical-interest mass.

Just two years ago, when Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro appeared at the January 2012 Broadband Breakfast Club on “The Wired Home and Wireless Policy,” he mentioned the hot new device that he had just seen that year at CES: 3-D printing. The rapid maturation of the marketplace, including the widespread availability of sub-$1,000 devices, heralds a new age of “makers.”

4K Video Technology

Global sales of televisions has slumped in the developed world, and it’s only through the high demand of Chinese and other Asian nations that TV year-over-year revenue growth are still positive, according to CEA statistics. Notwithstanding that fewer consumers currently buying television, the sets get bigger and brighter ever year. And 2014 is no exception.

Each of the major manufacturers, including Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic , Sharp and others, are touting what they call “4K” technology, for four times the number of pixels than was once thought to be the maximum number perceptible to the human eye through high-definition television. Although 3D television isn’t living up to its promised hype, everyone in the big-screen manufacturing space is moving to a 4K standard. This includes the digital cameras and computers necessary to edit, manipulate and store these streams. Look out for the bandwidth necessary to transport ever-higher-capacity video streams!

The Laptop/tablet/smartphone Continuum

Remember the “three screen” world discussed above? Even that paradigm has exploded in the last few years since the Apple iPad defined and kickstarted consumer interest in a product — the tablet — that no one ever thought they needed.

And the iPad’s early 2010 launch, product lines have only gotten blurrier. Consumers want larger and larger-screen smart phone devices, and also mini-size tablets. The last year has also re-energized the once-dormant laptop-tablet convergence. Intel and Lenovo are among those promoting hybrid versions with the entertainment experience of a tablet, and the high-productivity environment of a laptop computer and keyboard.

With the center of gravity of core consumer electronics products having shifted to the tablet/smart phone-space, the desktop-and-peripheral model is dead. This is forcing products that aren’t phones or tablet to consumer a smaller and smaller revenue slice of the $1 trillion annual consumer electronics marketplace.

Robots and Drones

Drones are very visible at the International Consumer Electronics Show in 2014 – and not the least because of the way they hover and fly high in the air over the showroom floors. We’ve seen toy drones for kids, medium-size drones for families to take on vacation and get another view of their surroundings, and and heavy-duty drones targeted largely at professional and aerial photographers.

We’re most excited about the embryonic applications still in their development phase: how can a drone help a farmer to survey his crops and understand his yields in a far more time-efficient manner? We also make a point of looking in on the conventional robotics techzone. We are still waiting on the breakout products among pet robots, vacuum-cleaning and window-washing robots, and telepresence applications like an iPad on a remote-control stand.

This is the future of computing and the next stage of Moore’s Law. It is where the robotic realm — big, high in the sky, outside the constraints of the human body – combines with the tiny, embedded and internet-connected experience. Together, computing will going way beyond the three screens of the old consumer electronics industry.

Drew Clark is Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund, and wireless spectrum policy at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Nationally recognized for his knowledge on telecommunications law and policy, Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, the smart grid, eGovernment, and family connectedness. Clark is also available on Google+ and Twitter.

To see our top 10 Issues for 2013, see this article from BroadbandBreakfast.com.

 

 

Industry Reactions to Tom Wheeler’s Nomination to Be FCC Chairman: CCIA, NCTA, CTIA, NTCA, CEA and MPAA

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WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013 - The following are reactions from President Barack Obama’s Announcement that Tom Wheeler would be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from several of the leading major telecommunications, media and technology industry trade groups.

Ed Black, President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association: 

“President Obama has nominated the right leader for the right job at the right time.

“I have known and respected Tom Wheeler for many years, and believe his exceptional understanding of much of the industry, combined with his demonstrated commitment to protecting the public interest, makes him uniquely qualified to lead this important agency facing many complicated and critical decisions.

“Tom’s knowledge of the telecom, cable and Internet industries and his experience representing the wireless and cable industries when they were the newest disruptive innovators makes him an excellent choice. A frequent impediment to US innovation is that incumbents too often protect their legacy business models rather than allowing the market to evolve in ways that help consumers. Wheeler’s career backing start ups and promoting disruptive innovators in the wireless and cable industries is an important perspective to have in a Chairman.

“The choice of Wheeler reinforces our belief that President Obama understands the Internet’s role as both a communications tool and as a key for growing the digital economy. We need an FCC Chairman to chart the right course that will boost Internet openness, promote robust competition, innovation and affordable high speed Internet access.”

Michael Powell, President and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association:

“We congratulate Tom Wheeler on his nomination as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. With his significant experience in both the private and public sector, Tom is an exceptional choice to lead the Commission during a time when the telecommunications marketplace is experiencing significant innovation and incredible change. We welcome the pending appointment of Mignon Clyburn as interim chairman as she is a distinguished and able public servant. We will continue working closely with the entire Commission as they tackle important issues facing America’s dynamic media, technology and telecommunications landscape.”

Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA – The Wireless Association:

“On behalf of the wireless industry, we congratulate Tom on today’s announcement. Tom has a deep understanding of communications issues, a passion for hard work and creative thinking, a diverse background that spans the realm of the Internet world and a keen understanding of how mobile wireless broadband can drive our economy and innovation. His leadership of the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council, combined with his private sector experience means he will hit the ground running. We look forward to working with Tom, once he completes the Senate confirmation process, on the breadth of spectrum and other wireless telecom matters which are pending at the Commission and critical to the maintenance of our position as global leader in mobile communications.”

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association:

“NTCA congratulates Mr. Wheeler upon his nomination to serve as the next chairman of the FCC. Small rural carriers have worked diligently to deliver on the President’s vision of universal broadband access, and we know that Mr. Wheeler appreciates the need for a stable, well-defined regulatory climate to facilitate investment in and upgrade of broadband-capable, IP-enabled networks. This is particularly important in the hard-to-serve areas in which NTCA members operate, and we look forward to working with Mr. Wheeler to fulfill the promise of high-quality, affordable and sustainable broadband access for all Americans.”

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association:

“President Obama has made an excellent choice in nominating Tom Wheeler. As the former president of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and the former CEO of CTIA – The Wireless Association, he understands the impact of government actions on innovation and competitiveness.

“As the chairman of the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on International Communications Policy and Information Policy, Wheeler helped develop the unprecedented unified position of the U.S. government, Congress and industry opposing the International Telecommunication Union’s effort to encourage countries to wall off their citizens’ Internet access. Wheeler also helped coordinate the U.S. response to the Haiti disaster which quickly restored basic telecommunications service to Haiti and put into place a strategy for future responses to areas hit by a telecommunications breakdown.

“The FCC plays a vital role in the lives of all Americans. CEA and its 2,000 technology industry member companies look forward to working with Wheelerand his colleagues to help the FCC advance technology innovation through spectrum reallocation and other groundbreaking issues. Wheeler is experienced, qualified and certain to make a difference as FCC chairman.”

Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America:

“I’d like to congratulate Tom Wheeler on his nomination today by President Obama to be FCC Chairman. Tom has demonstrated strong leadership skills at a time of major change in the telecommunications, cable, and wireless industries.  I look forward to working with Tom, an entrepreneur and experienced policy expert,  to ensure the smooth delivery of American content over a variety of devices and networks, both here and abroad.”font

Statement by Consumer Electronics Association on Julius Genachowski’s Departure

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From Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro on the announced departure of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski:

As I named him at the 2013 International CES®, Chairman Genachowski is the ‘Spectrum Chairman.” Consumers and industry alike will benefit for years to come thanks to Genachowski’s service at the FCC.

Said CEA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Julie Kearney:

Chairman Genachowski is a visionary leader, an adept regulator, and a true friend to the innovation society. From the National Broadband Plan to the implementation of the Spectrum Act authorizing the FCC to conduct incentive spectrum auctions, and the myriad issues in between, chairman Genachowski leaves an indelible and positive mark on the communications landscape.

With Broadband as Driver for Today’s Consumer Electronics Technologies, Here’s the Top 10 Issues for 2013

in Broadband and Democratization/Broadband's Impact/CES2013/Intellectual Property/International/The Innovation Economy/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2013 – Starting the New Year off by attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas provides a wonderful lens with which to focus on the year ahead in technology.

Today, broadband is the driver for almost all of today’s digital technologies. Of the hundreds of examples of digital technologies that I experienced last week, I cannot recall a single one of them that wasn’t broadband-enabled.

Going to the show allows one to double-check one’s instincts for top issues in broadband. Here’s our list of the 10 most significant broadband developments to watch for in 2013 — and your guide to learning more about each of these subjects through the Broadband Breakfast Club, your window on broadband.

1. Data Caps for Wireless Broadband, the Spectrum Crunch, and Wireless Home Networking
The two largest wireless providers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, have moved to a pay-per-megabit model for the consumption of wireless broadband. Consumers strongly resisted data caps for cable and DSL services, but have warmed to paying usage-based rates for wireless data. And users are chewing up data on their Samsung Galaxy phones, their Microsoft Windows Surface tablets, and on Apple iPhones and iPads and iPods. So long as users have both a wired home broadband connection, with a second screen that accesses Wi-Fi, broadband costs are manageable. Policy questions arise when users must rely exclusively on third-generation or fourth-generation wireless networks. This issue will be explored in the February 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

2. How Will FirstNET Improve Public Safety Communications?
One of the reasons that wireless providers insist on tiered pricing for wireless broadband is the spectrum crunch occasioned by more and more data usage over 3G and 4G wireless networks. This is one of several reasons why the government has been easing television broadcasters out of the airwaves, and beginning to make the most desirable frequencies available for other uses. Two of these high-value uses are for public safety communications and commercial mobile broadband. FirstNET, the nationwide, public-safety network called for in legislation last February, could provide key answers to weaknesses in response by police, fire and emergency response officials. This issue will be explored in the March 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

3. Smart Cars, Data Sensors, and Machine-to-Machine Communications: What’s Coming Up this Year
The increasingly small sizes of silicon transistors, coupled with greater broadband ubiquity, is making it possible to envision a world of machine-to-machine communications. Typical families now have more than five or even 10 broadband-connected devices — expect that number to rapidly multiply in the coming year. One of the most exciting developments in machine-to-machine communications exists in the world of smart cars. One Verizon Communications device on display at the Consumer Electronics Show was a Delphi Automotive plug-in, for sale as an aftermarket plug-in designed to send location, diagnostic, speed and mileage information about your car to a web-enabled portal. But how will smarter cars begin to affect vehicle safety? This issue will be explored in the April 16, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

4. Becoming a Gigabit Nation: What Have we Learned About Ultra-High Speed from Google, Comcast, Verizon and Others?
Speaking at the show, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski lauded the nation’s progress on broadband speeds. “More and more [providers] are thinking of speeds in terms of gigabits instead of megabits,” he said in an interview with Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. But he said it still wasn’t enough. “We need more gigabit test beds in this country. We are in a global bandwidth race, and we don’t want to be behind the rest of the world on speed.” More and more gigabit or near-gigabit initiatives are now available for consumers and we need to learn from their progress. This issue will be explored in the May 21, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

5. Global and Mobile: How Wireless Broadband Spurs Economic Development
Many celebrities flock to the Consumer Electronics Show. One of them, former President Bill Clinton, delivered a substantive message about the impact that mobile smartphones are having upon the developing world. And the major manufacturers are paying attention to this need. One of the show’s big announcements concerned the creation of a chipset design from Intel that will enable cheaper smart phones. What does the developing world need in a mobile broadband network to spur economic development? This issue will be explored in the June 18, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

6. Smart Energy: Broadband and the Green Revolution
Advanced energy was a big theme emphasized by a variety of companies, from Ford to Panasonic to Verizon to Qualcomm. Information technology is being asked to play a supportive role in helping to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. This can be done by helping regulate energy consumption in homes, buildings and cars. Technology can also provide new service opportunities (e.g., telemedicine) that help avoid additional emissions. How can broadband be harnessed as a green technology? This issue will be explored in the July 16, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

7. Over the Top: Broadband Video Challenges Cable and Broadcast Programming
From Dish Network’s Hopper with Sling, which enables content sharing beyond the home; to Apple’s and Netflix’s attempts to offer a la carte television programming; to the many manufacturers designing smart and customized televisions, the next year is likely to bring new challenges and opportunities for video programmers. “Over the top” video is the next frontier for pay television programming. Is it a threat or an opportunity for cable operators? This issue will be explored in the September 17, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

8. Mobile Health: Will Wireless Devices Help Solve the Nation’s Health Crises?
In the “Last Gadget Standing” event at the Consumer Electronics Show, attendees were invited to put forward their proposals for “killer applications” that will change lives for the better. Three of the 10 finalists were mobile health applications. One was a diabetes monitor. The other conducted a battery of heart measurements. A third continuously provided global positioning service information about fitness and motion. These were just a sample of the mobile wireless technologies that could begin to provide answers to our nation’s health care problems. This issue will be explored in the October 15, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

9. Changes to Patent Law and the Landscape for Innovation
One surprising significant issue addressed in the show were the challenges that so-called “patent trolls” can cause to entrepreneurs. An unexpectedly strong turn-out greeted the discussion on patent reform, which was also highlighted in the keynote address by CEA’s Shapiro. This issue will be explored in the November 19, 2013, Broadband Breakfast Club.

10. Will Tablets Dethrone Computers as the Gateway to Sustainable Broadband Adoption?
Previously, technology prognosticators focused on the three-screen world: televisions, computers and mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Coming to CES this year forced me to think that we are really entering a two-screen world: a big screen at home (a TV) and a mobile screen that you take with you. Sure, the computer isn’t going away anytime soon, but the bulk of the innovation was on the big screen and the little screen. As consumers who have not yet adopted broadband begin to use mobile phones and tablets for serious online activity, it will be important to assess the best way to reach those currently not online.

Although this is one issue for which we haven’t yet scheduled an upcoming Broadband Breakfast Club, we expect it will be discussed at this Tuesday’s event, “The President’s and Congress’ New Broadband Agenda” on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Please join us! Register at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the broadband economy at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Our goals at #CES2013 last week were to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.

FCC Chairman Genachowski Touts ‘Incentive Auction’ as Big Win from Broadcasting to Wireless Broadband

in Broadband's Impact/CES2013/Congress/FCC/Mobile Broadband/Spectrum/Wireless by

LAS VEGAS, January 9, 2013 – When President Obama came to office nearly four years ago, the transition to digital television hadn’t yet been completed.

Now, airwaves once used by broadcasters have been cleared for use by wireless companies. And the Federal Communications Commission is going forward on the next stage of this transition. The agency is pushing broadcasters into a narrower and narrower portion of electromagnetic spectrum.

In other words, broadcasters will no longer rule the air with exclusive access to the mother-lode of spectrum they once controlled.

The man most responsible for this transition is Obama’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who came to the Consumer Electronics Show here Wednesday and received the accolade as the “spectrum chairman” by Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro.

Genachowski, sitting down in a question-and-answer with Shapiro here, said the agency was able to accomplish one-two punch against television broadcasters’ extensive spectrum holdings by building an “incentive auction” into the National Broadband Plan.

More broadly, Genachowski said, “we did a broadband plan that treated wired and wireless broadband as [both] really important.”

Coming into the National Broadband Plan in 2009 and 2010, “everyone assumed that a broadband plan was a wired broadband plan,” he said. “A lot of the future is about wireless broadband.”

The FCC issued the National Broadband Plan in March 2010 as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, legislation passed within one month of Obama’s taking office. The National Broadband Plan’s elevation of the concept of an incentive auction took a once-fanciful notion into the political mainstream.

The basic notion of the incentive auction — which the FCC plans to conduct  by 2014 — is that television broadcasters put the airwaves they currently use into a pool from which wireless broadband companies will bid.

The agency has a mandate from Congress to raise at least $24 billion from this incentive auction. Under that mandate, about $7 billion will be used to pay for a public safety wireless network, and about $3 billion to pay broadcasters to vacate their airwaves. The remainder will help raise money for the federal treasury.

Managing such an incentive auction, which has never been done before, is likely to consume considerable attention and energy on the part of the agency.

The push for the incentive auction has been amplified by a mounting spectrum crunch for wireless devices, said Genachowski. Looking back four years, Apple’s iPad hadn’t even been introduced. Tablets were not the mass-market phenomenon that they are today, with sales this year set to exceed computers. Also, smart phones were just taking off when Genachowski became agency chairman in 2009.

One significant by-product of the push to pack the broadcasters into a narrower and narrower space on the radio-frequency dial has been to focus the agency’s attention on licensed spectrum more than on unlicensed wireless uses.

Genachowski came to the show here with some news of his own: the agency will soon kick-off a government-wide effort to increase speeds and alleviate Wi-Fi congestion at major hubs, such as airports, convention centers and large conference gatherings. The initiative will free up unlicensed spectrum in the 5 Gigahertz band. Genachowski said this would enable Wi-Fi speed increases by up to 35 percent.

During another session here on Wednesday, a panel including Nebraska Republican Rep. Lee Terry, a wireless provider, a broadcast industry representative, and other attorneys and analysts, it became clear that sorting out the issues behind an incentive auction won’t be easy.

Rep. Terry said that “the reality is that young people don’t want wires. It is all about mobility.” Terry said that our society can’t enable to use of these wireless devices without more access to spectrum.

Many expect that the 2014 date for the incentive auction is overly ambitious. But on another panel here on Wednesday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said that “yes, [the schedule] is aggressive, but there are a lot of motivated bodies” to get the auction done by 2014.

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Our goals for #CES2013 are to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.

Consumer Electronics Industry’s Gary Shapiro Offers Kinder Words to Hollywood at CES Show Opener

in CES2013/Intellectual Property/The Innovation Economy by

LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2013 – One year after Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro opened his technology trade show with a war cry against the entertainment industry, Shapiro this morning touted “two industries working together to solve problems” of sharing digital content.

In his welcoming remarks at the launch of the Consumer Electronics Show here, Shapiro welcomed five motion picture industry executives to tout the movie-sharing service UltraViolet.

This olive branch came just minutes after excoriating Hollywood for the entertainment industry’s aborted efforts to pass the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The two bills in Congress advancing copyright interests stalled after Google, Wikipedia and a range of technology companies mounted a successful effort press legislators to abandon the bills.

“Some 40 members of Congress withdrew their names from that legislation, and it died,” said Shapiro, referring to the fall-out when Wikipedia and other sites went dark on January 18, 2012.

“There will never be SOPA or PIPA legislation with that name again,” Shapiro said. “It [would be] like calling your kid Adolph” after the wake of German dictator Adolph Hitler.

After that remark, Shapiro attempted to emphasize the positives of innovation-led collaboration in Washington. He sited his recent book, Ninja Innovation, and its efforts to highlight “collaboration, solving problems, [and not] always going to the government.”

Shapiro then touted UltraViolet as just such a collaboration. The free service is designed to let consumers share their movies in the broadband “cloud,” meaning that consumers are able to access content from a television, a computer, a mobile device or a game console.

Warner Brothers President Ron Sanders called the alliance a “great cross-promotion for the industry” and one that allowed consumers to “unlock the value” of their existing video libraries.

Joined on stage and executives from Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate, Warner Brothers’ Sanders thanked Shapiro for his help in promoting alliance, which includes significant consumer electronics companies LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio.

Such broadband cloud-based services enabling content sharing have proven difficult in an electronics ecosystem populated by multiple companies. Within a single company, Apple’s iCloud service is among the most successful service enabling smartphone-to-tablet-to-computer-to-television sharing. Apple employs digital rights management technologies to ensure entertainment-industry buy-in to the company’s cloud technology.

Shapiro also highlighted other priorities of the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the annual CES: fighting to stop “patent trolls,” or entities that assert patent rights against technology companies, and promoting small business growth through “strategic immigration.”

He also urged trade groups to join CEA in supporting federal budget-cutting initiatives, such as those put forward by the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected from its original version.

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Our goals for #CES2013 are to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.

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‘The Wired Home and Wireless Policy’ Breakfast – Convergence Legislation and Consumer Adoption

in Broadband and Democratization/Broadband TV/Broadband Updates/FCC/FCC Comments/Mobile Broadband/Spectrum/The Innovation Economy/Wireless by

WASHINGTON January 17, 2012 – BroadbandBreakfast.com kicked off a new year of the Broadband Breakfast Club fresh off the heals of the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas with a Breakfast on “The Wired Home and Wired Policy” featuring the Presidents of four major technology and telecommunications trade associations and the Wireless Telecommunication Bureau Chief of the Federal Communications Commission, Rick Kaplan.

Event Highlights

 

Complete Program

As Kaplan stated right out off the bat, we “can’t escape the impact of mobile broadband on mobile technology.”  The US, Kaplan said, is the leader in world mobile, but, “we should not be satisfied with being today’s leader in mobile, this sector is moving so fast we must be equipped with an aggressive and forward- looking game plan to maintain our world leadership.”

Kaplan noted that the three elements of any plan to keep the US at the forefront of the mobile revolution include 1) maintaining a strong infrastructure for continued deployment, 2) ensuring healthy competition in the marketplace and 3) achieving universal broadband adoption.

Kaplan decided to focus on the first element of spectrum infrastructure.  He noted that spectrum incentive auctions have the potential to free up 120MHz of the 500MHz that will be needed over the next 10 years.  The question is, whether Congress will pass the legislation giving the FCC authority to free up this spectrum:

“In Congress there are two sticking points holding up the legislation, the first is whether some spectrum cleared will be earmarked for licensed as well as unlicensed use and second, whether Congress should take this opportunity to circumscribe the FCC’s authority to foster competition in the market place through auctions,” stated Kaplan.

While the wireless bureau does not have authority over unlicensed spectrum, Kaplan noted, it is clear that the value of unlicensed use is huge. He continued by adding that the FCC recognizes every wireless provider is going to need more spectrum.  Stripping the FCC of authority to manage spectrum and allowing one or two companies to own all the most valuable spectrum would be the demise of our mobile leadership.

Kaplan closed out his comments by stating that incentive auctions are only part of the plan to get us to 500MHz of new spectrum and added that there are three other areas, as important as incentive auctions, that will get us to our mobile goals.

“First we must identify and lock up the last few quick and lasting spectrum wins available,” Kaplan pointed to the 1755-170MHz band as well as the 2GHz band.  Reassessing band plans and shifting bands will be essential to unlocking additional previously undervalued spectrum.

Second, Kaplan said that we need to be open to new models for opening up spectrum. “A shift in mindset must be made to accept the notion that spectrum bands can and must be shared between and among commercial and federal users.”

Third, Kaplan suggested that we need to tackle those legacy systems not making the most of the spectrum in use.

Kaplan then joined the panel of trade association presidents including Fred Campbell, President & CEO of Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI), Walter McCormick, President & CEO, USTelecom, Grant Seiffert, President, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and Gary Shapiro, President & CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).  Drew Clark, Chairman and Publisher of Broadbandbreakfast.com moderated the discussion.

Clark began the discussion by asking Shapiro about his impressions of the Consumer Electronics Show.  Shapiro noted that there were an overwhelming number of new devices and technologies that used spectrum and assumed the availability of mobile broadband.  Smart phones use 25 times the data stream that regular cell phones use and tablets use 120 times as much.  Of the 20,000 new products at CES, stated Shapiro, “half of them assumed there will be sufficient spectrum to work in the future and that assumption seems to be increasingly flawed.”

Clark asked the panelists to comment on the integrated aspect of the world we live in where wireless towers are fed by wires. McCormick from USTelecom pointed out that in order “to get capacity for all of the new devices in the wired home we need to get wired info out as close to the end user as possible.  Over 99% of all wireless communications connect with wired infrastructure.  We know wireless communications are slated to grow 26 fold over the next 5 years.  The only way to have the needed robustness in the wireless world is to have continued investment in fiber based wired infrastructure.”

Seiffert from TIA expressed concerns about uncertainty in the marketplace that will lead to volatility regarding investment in his companies’ equipment and services if the spectrum issues are not resolved.  He stressed the need for Congress to get the ball rolling on passing legislation that would give the FCC authority to hold the incentive auctions.

Campbell followed up on uncertainty.  “Uncertainty is being driven by uncertainty in the way we expect people to use networks.” Campbell added, ‘it is changing very rapidly. As an example, Campbell noted that while enterprises have been using the cloud for a long time, it is becoming a bigger deal because consumers are finally beginning to adopt it for personal use. “Consumers start to adopt new usage styles and patterns that are driving demand more than anything else. Consumer adoption is going to force the industry to adapt to what they want to do.”

Clark then asked the panelists to discuss the issue of usage caps and whether people are driving their usage back to the wired home because of it.

Kaplan was blunt in saying that data caps were going to grow if more spectrum is not freed up, ‘those are the parade of horribles we are worried about.”

McCormick made an interesting point in challenging the business models that we use support our increasing need for mobile broadband.  He said that ISPs have historically depended upon a model where the end user pays.  “The questions going forward,” said McCormick, “is if more capacity is required, do you keep ratcheting up what the end user pays for the service?”

McCormick pointed to the broadcasters; he said that in our country some of the most successful businesses have been free and built on advertising models. “We talk about search engines being available for free but they are not really free they are ad supported.  The biggest challenge going forward is to come up with the right kind of business models to continue to provide the levels of capital necessary for this extraordinary deployment.”

Telecommunications companies have invested 600 billion in the past 10 years to build out their infrastructure according to McCormick.  Last year the industry spent 65 billion. This investment from the private sector, said McCormick, dwarfs the amount the government has spent on prior major infrastructure projects that have been the hallmarks of our countries development.  Another reason to think about the shape of business plans going forward, is whether they are going to result in providing consumers with the value that they want, without loading every single cost onto the end user.

Campbell also made an interesting point about partnerships and future integration between wired and wireless networks.  He said, that consumers want multiple screens and they want them all to connect.  Consumers are asking how big a screen do I need, what do I need to do with that screen and how mobile do I need it to be.  The fact that the screens themselves are becoming so interchangeable, noted Campbell, means that there has to be a lot more integration between the wired and the wireless networks that support the different screens.

Moderator Drew Clark returned to the topic of the spectrum auctions and legislation in congress.

Kaplan reiterated that there is a bipartisan bill currently in the Senate that seeks to preserve the flexibility that the FCC has had for years.  He reiterated his point from earlier that not all spectrum is created equal and that unlicensed spectrum use has been extremely valuable in fueling innovation and assisting in the convergence between wired and wireless.

Campbell added some thoughts on the topic of unlicensed vs. licensed uses; he believes that white spaces in the DTV spectrum would be different than other unlicensed uses that tend to be shared, or in bands with some other primary service, and that were typically viewed as a short range consumer type of service.  “White spaces in the DTV band can play a longer-range roll,” he said, mentioning hotspot 2.0 as an example. Campbell thinks that whitespaces in these bands can be extremely valuable.  He pointed out that the FCC does not look at unlicensed potential when it does an aggregated spectrum analysis.

When asked about restricting entities from participating in an auction, Kaplan explained that everyone needs spectrum.  The FCC needs to find a way to free up as much spectrum as possible so that every company can get access.  He added that the FCC would make sure that no one would be locked out of an auction, the flipside concern however is that there will be no constraint on the amount of spectrum any one company can obtain.  That, he said, is a question for public debate.  Without FCC authority to monitor auctions we might end up with a result that nobody wants, it is the competitive aspect of the marketplace today that has led to the incredible innovation that exists.

Regarding progress in getting the government to reallocate spectrum bands for more efficient use, Kaplan applauded the NTIA for doing a very good job having been assigned an incredibly difficult task.  Kaplan heeded that the “reality is that we are not going to be able to keep clearing swaths of spectrum for mobile broadband use.”  We must figure out a way to share spectrum and that is where the next focus should be.

Clark posed another question to the speakers about the wired home. “Consumers aren’t using the high bandwidth applications that fiber is capable of yet they are using their wireless devices to the nth degree and running into capacity issues, with regard to the home what are you hearing about the applications people want to use in the home?”

“Downloading a movie to watch on your iPad takes a while,” said Shapiro.  He believes that consumers do not really think about the underlying issues, they just want what works the best.  Shapiro suggested that many wireless solutions do not have a great history of success with audio and video for example, he added that they might not always work the way people expect them to work.

Shapiro also explained the switch from internet protocol 4 to internet protocol 6, “what this allows is a lot of machine to machine communication.”  These communications can tackle issues of home safety, medical monitoring and energy efficiency.  Those devises do require greater bandwidth that is flowing all the time.

McCormick agreed that the type of Apps needed for medicine are larger and can only be supported through fiber.

When asked about policy issues that will support greater fiber and broadband investment, McCormick said that competition drives investment. “It is important that those that invest in broadband are free to offer over broadband everything that they can offer…the government should look at their interest in competition as being aligned with what government policies best support investment.”

 

Chairman Genachowski Outlines FCC Goals at Consumer Electronics Show

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/Mobile Broadband/National Broadband Plan/Net Neutrality/Spectrum/Wireless by

LAS VEGAS, January 10, 2011 – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski highlighted the Commission’s successes in the 111th Congress and looked to its goals in the 112th during a discussion with at the Consumer Electronics Show on Friday.

The conversation between the Chairman and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) CEO, Gary Shapiro, took place in front of a crowd of hundreds of tech industry representatives, analysts and journalists at the Las Vegas Convention Center and focused almost entirely on the need for sound, progressive mobile broadband policy.

During his brief introductory remarks, Genachowski promoted a sense of urgency with respect to protecting and advancing America’s place in the global mobile broadband race through making radio spectrum more available for mobile broadband use and promoting the build-out of mobile broadband infrastructure.

“The consumer electronic industry is going wireless,” said Genachowski, citing a projection that anticipates growth by a factor of 35 in the coming five years for mobile broadband use.  “The future success of this wide-ranging industry and others depends on whether our government acts quickly to unleash more spectrum – the oxygen that sustains our mobile devices.”

The FCC’s plan to free up radio spectrum for mobile broadband use includes both reallocating spectrum from other uses and making more efficient use of existing spectrum.  As part of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), the Commission’s aim is to reallocate 500Mhz of spectrum to mobile broadband over the next 10 years.

“If we do [free up more spectrum],” said Genachowski, “we can drive billions of dollars in new private investment, fueling world-leading innovations, creating millions of new jobs, and enabling endless new products and services that can help improve the lives of all Americans.”

Genachowski continued, using the CES discussion to highlight one of the primary modes of reallocating spectrum that the FCC has promoted: voluntary incentive auctions.  In an incentive auction, an existing licensee would be encouraged on a strictly voluntary basis to offer part or all of its licensed bandwidth to the FCC for auction to another licensee in exchange for monetary compensation.  The plan is primarily directed at over-the-air broadcasters, who frequently hold licenses for more bandwidth than they use.  The incentive auction plan, which the National Association of Broadcasters opposes, may not proceed until Congress gives express approval.

Additionally, the Chairman called on the tech industry to drive mobile broadband adoption by consumers and entrepreneurs, while promising to pursue policies that facilitate the faster build-out of next-generation mobile networks.

During his discussion with Shapiro, Genachowski commended the policies and programs that enabled the deployment of the telephone network in the U.S., calling them integral to the rise of the country as an economic superpower, but insisted that it is necessary to move beyond those policies for future growth.  He referenced the Universal Service Fund (USF), which in part helped fund the build-out of the telephone system and continues to provide subsidies for rural telephone service.

“Universal service for communications is very important,” said the Chairman, “but the USF focuses on phone; we need to focus on broadband.”

As part of the NBP, legacy programs under the USF would be replaced by broadband deployment under the Connect America Fund.

Though the conversation focused primarily on the issue of mobile broadband spectrum, at one point it diverged to the controversial Open Internet Order handed down by the Commission in December.  Shapiro posed the question of whether, with expanding availability mobile broadband, more competition and market forces would obviate the need for FCC regulation on Net Neutrality.  Major telecommunications companies, such as Verizon Communications and AT&T – both of which are part of the CEA – have been vocal critics of the order.  Genachowski declined to make a projection on the matter.

After 14 years, FCC Tries Again To Bring Competition to Cable Access

in FCC/Intellectual Property/Media by

SAN FRANCISCO, October 14, 2010 — As expected, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday ordered cable companies to make their programming more accessible to device manufacturers so that consumers have more reasons to buy innovative gadgets that can more seamlessly access both cable television programming and content on the web.

The order means that consumers should be able to self-install cable cards, and high-definition set-top boxes won’t need the cards at all.

The order comes after a regime implemented by the FCC in 1998 called CableCARD failed to take off. It was supposed to allow third party consumer electronics manufacturers to access the programming more seamlessly by providing consumers with the ability to insert the card into devices to access the programming.

So far, only one percent of cable subscribers use CableCARDs, according to statistics cited by the Obama Administration in its National Broadband Plan, which the administration published this March. And only two device manufacturers, TiVo and Moxi, sell the CableCARD-enabled set-top boxes through retail outlets.

Innovators such as Apple, Boxee, Google, Roku, Sezmi, SonyPlayStation 3, XBox 360 and others have tried to cobble together alternative devices, but “their devices often cannot access traditional TV content that consumers value,” and “without the ability to seamlessly integrate internet video with traditional TV viewing, internet video devices like Apple TV and Roku have struggled to gain a foothold in U.S. homes,” noted the authors of the plan.

The order is the FCC’s latest attempt to fulfill the requirement in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which seeks to bring competition to a new market in consumer electronic devices that can access cable television services.

As such, it’s an interim measure until it considers new rules that would enable consumers to buy smart video devices that would enable them to change cable companies without having to buy a new device.

The deadline for that proceeding, as suggested in the National Broadband Plan, is the end of the year.

Consumer electronics manufacturers, a digital rights group, and the cable industry itself approved of the way the commission approached the issue in its order.

“We agree with the Commission that implementing these changes – including increasing options for self-installation, providing more transparency and properly equipping technicians – will assist customers who use retail devices that rely on CableCARDs,” said Kyle McSlarrow, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s president and CEO.

“It has been 14 years since Congress responded to consumer frustration and required cable to allow cable boxes to be sold competitively,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. “We have felt like Lucy holding the football with every cable industry failure to support competition in the set-top box marketplace.”

“Now, consumers will be able to install their own CableCards provided that manufacturers include instructions and, importantly, the Commission will limit the ability of cable systems to subsidize their own boxes with service costs, which puts competitive devices at a disadvantage,” said Harold Feld, Public Knowledge’s legal director.

Photo courtesy of: Angel Raul Ravelo Rodriguez

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