What’s Hot 11/13/2013

@RogerWCheng In the wake of a devastating typhoon Haiyan, AT&T says it won’t charge contract customers for calls or texts to Philippines.

@ConsumersUnion Don’t you deserve to know how cell phone services compare during times of crisis? FCC proposes great new rule: http://ow.ly/qCY4U

@FierceWireless The Mobile Phone Market Just Officially Became the Smartphone Market http://dthin.gs/1blZG4v

Twitter’s handle on D.C. evolving (Politico, 11/7/2013)
Twitter took New York on Thursday. Is Washington next? Twitter, already an established Silicon Valley player and long a D.C. outsider, may have little choice but to get more involved in the Washington game — as was the case for Facebook and Google. The signs of political apathy were already shifting before the social network announced its plans to go public. The 7-year-old company with nearly 250 million active users and already a Washington staple for politicians to get their messages out, registered a lobbyist and set up a political action committee in August. The company has already lobbied on immigration reform, cybersecurity, consumer privacy, changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and more. It also signed on to a major push for patent reform in October — one of the hottest topics for technology firms this fall. Tax issues may not be far behind. Just this week, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) pointed to Twitter as a potential beneficiary of the kind of stock options tax loophole they want closed. The company has a small office in Washington, but its two core staffers are well-known and well-versed in tech policy. Colin Crowell, head of global public policy, was a longtime aide to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and served former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Will Carty, Twitter’s lobbyist, is a former GOP aide to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Confused about the spectrum debate? These two commercials will help. (Washington Post.com, 11/11/2013)
If all goes according to plan, next year the FCC will convert a big block of spectrum currently being used for television broadcasting to use for cellular service. Broadcasters will be paid to voluntarily relinquish their spectrum, which will then be auctioned off to wireless providers at a net profit to the U.S. Treasury. One of the most important questions about this process is whether AT&T and Verizon will be allowed to win the bulk of that spectrum. These companies have the deepest pockets and many observers believe that they would submit the highest bids. But some observers, including the Department of Justice, have warned that letting them win would represent a huge missed opportunity to increase competition in the wireless market. T-Mobile argues that AT&T and Verizon’s goal in acquiring spectrum would be less to expand their own networks than to prevent rivals such as T-Mobile from expanding theirs. But Verizon’s supporters have a clever retort. Leslie Marx, an economist at Duke University, produced a Verizon-sponsored white paper on the issue. And she points out that while T-Mobile’s lobbying arm has been complaining about a shortage of spectrum, the company’s television commercials have been portraying things very differently: But T-Mobile Vice President Kathleen Ham says Marx’s critique ignores the fact that not all spectrum is created equal. Low-frequency spectrum, like the 600 MHz spectrum that will be auctioned off next year, can travel better through buildings and over long distances. According to the Justice Department, AT&T and Verizon control 78 percent of low-frequency spectrum, defined as spectrum below 1000 MHz. Ham says T-Mobile barely has any. That’s important, Ham says, because low-frequency spectrum is needed to compete effectively in rural areas (where the longer range of low-frequency spectrum allows covering more ground with fewer towers) and in dense urban areas (where the ability of low-frequency spectrum to penetrate buildings is key to providing good service). If you have an unobstructed view of a T-Mobile cell tower, then you’ll enjoy the surge of data depicted in the T-Mobile ad. But it’s harder for T-Mobile to provide good connectivity in remote areas and in skyscraper canyons.

Ericsson: Wireless networks aren’t ready for the smartphone revolution (PandoDaily Blog, 11/11/13) Ericsson today released its quarterly Mobility Report, an in-depth study meant to identify and quantify the major trends in mobile device usage. It confirms what many have long suspected. Smartphones are more popular than they were just a few months ago. China is one of the most important mobile markets in the world. Reaching another billion consumers will take less time than reaching the first billion. The instincts of many reporters and pundits have now been sufficiently measured, projected, and published in a handy-dandy PDF. There is one aspect of the report that might surprise some readers, however. Ericsson says that the rate at which smartphone owners use wireless data connections will grow much faster than the rate at which people are buying new smartphones. The report says that the smartphone market is likely to triple by 2019; the amount of data used by smartphone owners is expected to grow tenfold in the same time period. That’s where things get interesting.

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§ High-speed wireless playing catch-up to smartphones (Blouin Beat: Technology Blog, 11/11/13)