WASHINGTON, December 14, 2009 – What’s the greatest source of dissatisfaction in the mobile wireless industry? Ironically, according to industry experts and government representatives attending a conference on customer complaints, it is competition itself.
The size and pervasiveness of the mobile device market has exploded. In the space of just 17 years, the number of active mobile subscribers in the United States has exploded from 11 million to 276 million. An increased number of complaints have accompanied this market growth.
Why does market growth and competition lead to complaints? Several factors may be at work, panelists said. As mobile hardware becomes more and more varied and creation of applications continues, consumers’ expectations increase, leading to complaints.
Speaking about the success of Apple’s iPhone, Lois C. Greisman of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission commented that, “if [the iPhone] hadn’t become so successful we wouldn’t have this many complaints. We sort of get a leapfrogging effect with the competition of companies like Verizon.”
The release of new devices and technology forces companies to rapidly innovate and expand to keep up with competition. “This move speaks to the success of the marketplace,” added Greisman.
“Innovations of technology can actually stimulate complaints,” agreed Robert Roche, Vice President of Research at CTIA – The Wireless Association.
John W. Mayo of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business – who co-organized the conference – disagreed, however, that this competition increases complaints.
He coauthored a recently released study, “Can You Hear Me Now?’ Exit, Voice and Loyalty under Increasing Competition,” which suggested that competition actually decreases the number of complaints. He contended that as competition increases, more consumers are able to exit the market and switch, leaving the product for a more attractive alternative.
Besides competition, the accessibility of regulatory commissions and underlying American mentality contribute to the number of complaints.
“The FTC [Federal Trade Commission] does make it a lot easier, but Americans also seem prone to it,” said Greisman.
“There weren’t a lot of people complaining to the politburo in the Soviet Union.”
The FTC handles much of the nation’s consumer complaints, between 35,000 and 45,000 each week. The information is received in a variety of ways, not only by conventional mail and telephone hotline services, but through an online reporting system. This online system was groundbreaking when it was created in 1997, and allows consumers to make their voices more easily heard.
Why does the FTC deal with these complaints when many of them have nothing to do with the commission’s responsibilities?
“First of all, it’s good government,” said Greisman. “And second, it provides us with good information”
This information can prove invaluable both in the ongoing fight against fraud and for policy makers trying to improve conditions. The online system has already made this easier and expansion of broadband to help link other agencies and systems together quickly and efficiently is the next step. In a world where wasted time can mean more lost money by consumers, the stakes are high.
“Consumers want intervention, and they wanted it yesterday,” said Greisman.
Telecommunication was one of many industries studied for the forum, “Unpacking Customer Satisfaction: The Role of Customer Complaints Across Industries and Agencies,” hosted by Georgetown University’s Center for Business & Public Policy.
Among the questions considered at the forum included:
- What are the types of complaints that industries and government agencies face?
- How active are government agencies in the complaint process?
- Are government agencies effective in addressing/rectifying customer complaints?
- Do firms and agencies have customer complaint processes in place?
LEO Satellite Technology Should Be in All Schools, Gigabit Libraries Network Says
Satellites, at the very least, can act as backup connections, webinar heard.
October 21, 2021 – Low earth orbit satellites, which are expected to help connect a portion of people who live in remote regions of the country, should be available to all libraries – even if it’s just for redundancy, the director of Gigabit Libraries Network said Thursday.
Don Means, the director of the organization that has a deal with SpaceX’s Starlink beta service to connect a “handful” of libraries, said the technology can be used as backup in the event of a disaster.
“We think this should be in every library, even if it’s a place that has a connection – this would be very valuable as a backup because consider any kind of lights out scenario in a community,” Means said. “With this system, it bypasses the local infrastructure, and if you have a power source and you have a [satellite] dish, you’re connected.”
Earlier this month, Means said libraries will need various ways to stay connected and provide access to public Wi-Fi. While the “cheapest, most equitable, most economical way to connect every community with next generation broadband is to run fiber to all of the 17,000 libraries,” Means said previously, other solutions will need to be considered where geography doesn’t allow for a direct fiber connection.
The LEO constellation is unique compared to other kinds of satellites because it hovers closer to earth, theoretically meaning it provides better connectivity and lower latency, or the time it takes for the devices to communicate with the network.
The House is waiting to vote on an infrastructure bill that will pour billions into broadband. People have debated what kinds of technology the money should go toward, with some arguing for hard wiring and others saying wireless technologies have a space at the table.
Despite having a deal with Starlink, Means said he encourages LEO satellite technology in general and not just Starlink in particular.
“We’re not advocates or agents for Starlink,” Means said, “it’s just they’re the first ones out there with this technology. There are others coming…this is a new thing, a burgeoning thing.”
Starlink said this summer it had shipped 100,000 terminals to customers.
Google, Reliant On Success of 5G, Says It Wants Government-Funded Test Beds for Open RAN
Company says that the next generation of its products depend on 5G progress.
WASHINGTON, October 20, 2021 — Google made its case for regulators to make room for greater public-private collaboration in the wake of 5G and more research into open radio access network technologies.
Speaking at the FCBA’s “What’s New and Next in Wireless” session on Tuesday, Michael Purdy from Google’s product and policy team emphasized Google’s interest in the emerging 5G landscape, but wants a “collaborative environment” for innovation.
“5G is exciting because of Google’s products depend on 5G,” he said. “[Our] products can’t come to market without it.” Google’s recent product launches include smart-home technologies. Purdy says their products’ benefits are enhanced as 5G is deployed.
Google, like the technology sector at large, is building on the innovation that the “app economy” produced using existing 4G technology and plans to expand their software capabilities with 5G. “The app economy benefited consumers,” Purdy says. “Our lifestyles are going to depend on 5G.” For telehealth, “real time medical advice needs low latency [and] high speeds.”
However, Google hopes for better regulatory conditions during 5G deployment. “We haven’t been as focused on the FCC [for guidance] . . . we want stability to determine spectrum policy.”
Purdy said the company hopes to work collaboratively with government to find solutions for wider 5G deployment. “[We] want to know what position the government takes in creating an open RAN environment.”
The company said it wants government funded-test beds for open RAN, research into development to ensure that “the downside costs are defrayed.” In overcoming these challenges to 5G deployment, Purdy said Google wants the government to foster a “collaborative environment” to develop open RAN. “We don’t want government picking winners and losers in the innovation process” he said.
Purdy added that spectrum sharing between licensed and unlicensed users “can be good for consumers and for industry.”
The Federal Communications Commission has pushed for ways to develop open RAN to minimize network security risk, as the movement has gained significant momentum. FCC Acting Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has described open RAN as having “extraordinary potential for our economy and national security.”
Huawei Avoids Network Security Questions, Pushes 5G Innovation
Huawei’s CTO avoided questions about concerns over its network infrastructure security as countries ban its products.
WASHINGTON, October 19, 2021 — Huawei’s chief technology officer did not address questions Monday about the company’s network security practices during a session on how 5G drives economic growth, but said the focus should be on the evolutionary technology instead.
Paul Scanlan, Huawei’s CTO in the carrier business group, focused his presentation at the Economist Impact Innovation@Work conference on the promise of 5G technology and ignored concerns about network safety.
“We can service more customers with 5G” to start bridging the digital divide, he said. The pandemic has given the company an insight into customer behavior to better channel its data traffic needs. “5G performs better for the types of services we use now” he says, such as video streaming and user-generated content.
Scanlan avoided specific questions about his company’s technology and steered the conversation toward providing faster speeds for the health care industry. “Give me some use instances where the company has introduced 5G and helped companies be efficient” asked the moderator, Ludwig Siegele. “I’d like to stick on the health care sector, that’s more topical as you can imagine,” Scanlan responded.
“People are missing [innovation in 5G] because of geopolitical issues around the world,” said Scanlan. “Being able to collect the data and analyze it is where the business benefit lies . . . 5G adoption through the [standardized network] ecosystem is very important and we see this with 5G” for interoperability with other companies and providers.
Huawei’s promotion of their telecommunications products continues as the U.S. maintains national security sanctions against the tech giant. The impact of U.S. sanctions results a drop in sales for the company in 2021. The FCC has also recommended that Huawei’s equipment be listed as “high risk” to U.S. network security. Huawei told the FCC it cannot show the company’s equipment is a threat to U.S. networks.
Huawei’s global head of cybersecurity said this summer that President Joe Biden‘s executive order banning investments in Chinese companies is a “policy misstep” that will not only lose the U.S. a huge market, but will just make the company more self-sufficient.
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