Entries Matching: Mobile Communication

PK Urges FCC to Prevent Emergency Wireless Service Interruptions

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This week, Public Knowledge, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and several other public interest groups, urged the FCC to ensure that neither government agencies nor wireless providers shut down communications in an emergency.

The comments, also signed by the Benton Foundation, Free Press, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Minority Media Telecommunications Council, and the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, respond to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry, which asked about what procedures should be followed when government wanted to shut down communications during a crisis.

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Government-Ordered Wireless Shutdowns: Possibly Unconstitutional, Likely Illegal, Never a Great Idea

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As Kara noted last week, the FCC is asking you to comment on when it's appropriate for government agencies to cut off cellular services in the interests of public safety. For a variety of reasons, my initial answer to that is "rarely, if ever." Aside from definite knowledge of a cell phone-triggered bomb, or a freak occurrence where the 800-900MHz range somehow interfered with a pacemaker, it just doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. There's a host of reasons why, and a lot of them were argued in the wake of BART's October shutdown of cell service in anticipation of a protest. But this isn’t about BART; it’s about preventing future unnecessary shutdowns.

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If Data Caps Lack Clarity, Then Data Hogs = Flying Pigs

AT&T started throttling the cell phones of some of its heaviest data users (sometimes referred to as “data hogs”) a few months ago. Reports from the field indicate that those heavy network using “data hogs” are not that different from anyone else. 

AT&T says it only throttles the smartphones of customers who use “extraordinary level[s] of data usage.”  It turns out that these “extraordinary levels of data usage” on unlimited plans are actually a lot lower than amounts offered by the tiered plan at the same price.  What does this discrepancy mean?

First, the most current definitions of “throttling” and “data hogs:”

Throttling (verb)

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Sneaking 3 Horrible Wireless Ideas into One Bill

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Here in Washington, a classic way to get a bad policy passed is to attach it to the back of some unrelated “must pass” piece of legislation. Attaching one bad idea to a bill is sneaky.  Attaching two bad ideas is bold.  Attaching three?  Well, that’s what we have with a trio of horrible wireless ideas that some people in Congress are trying to attach to the upcoming Payroll Tax bill.

It is almost as if the proponents of these additions took a few years’ worth of ideas that will make wireless worse, wrapped them up in a bundle, and glued them to the underside of a bill that – if it does not pass – will raise taxes for millions of Americans.  In this case, these conditions would apply to spectrum freed up by the transition to digital TV broadcasting, and would impact some of the most useful spectrum to become available for years.  What are these conditions?

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