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National Wireless Initiative Annouced in President Obama's State of the Union Speech: [27th Jan 2011]

President Obama has delivered his State of the Union speech this week and outlined how technology will be used to make the US more competitive. The National Wireless Initiative was announced. This is aimed at encouraging network providers to deploy high speed networks to 98% of the US population by 2016. There would also be an increased budget for technology, research and development. In addition immigration rules will be overhauled in an effort to encourage highly skilled people and foreign students to live and work in the US.


The FCC and the Senate have come together to introduce a bill this week aimed at developing a nationwide public safety broadband network. The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act would allocate D block 700Mhz spectrum to public safety and $11 billion would be put aside for the construction and maintenance of the network. The FCC have also agreed to utilize LTE networks as part of the infrastructure. The FCC have decided to use LTE so that the various networks will be able to communicate with each other and will be using the same technology. The National Emergency Number Association have expressed their support of the new network. They point out that Next Generation 911 will play a role in allowing voice, data and video calls to be made to emergency services and the new network should ensure this is possible. Public opinion is currently being sought by the FCC on the new public safety network.


The FCC has agreed that new satellite broadband start-up Lightsquared can lease its airwaves to mobile phones rather than just satellite phones. The agreement means that the usual requirement that mobile phones using LightSquared airwaves must be able to make satellite calls will be waived. A spokesperson from the FCC has said that having an extra player in the mobile broadband market is good for customers and so it welcomes the competition. The US Commerce Department has not been so keen however and has warned that allowing this type of arrangement could lead to interference in satellite systems required for navigation, aeronautical emergency services and other systems used by federal agencies.


Verizon has filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals as a challenge to the FCC regarding their Net Neutrality Report. Verizon is asking whether the FCC has the authority to make new regulations which will impact the Internet and broadband. The regulations will prevent Verizon and other providers from blocking or throttling broadband connections if they deem it necessary. Ed Markey, the congressman who wrote the neutrality bill has said that he is not surprised by the challenge, but feels sure that the the bill will act in the interests of consumers and will promote investment.


AT&T have reported stronger growth in the last quarter with an increase of 2.1% fromt he year before and record gains in mobile customers. Despite this, net income was down from $2.8 billion to $1.2 billion due to some one-off expenses. These included pension charges, severance costs and asset impairments. Chairman Randall Stephenson has commented that the impact of losing exclusivity of the iPhone has not impacted on net profit. He points out that AT&T has loyal customers and that they will be moving into Android based phones to offset any negative impact there may be. AT&T also had 2.8 million more customers during the period which represents the largest increase in the companies history. This was mostly driven by the 4.1 million activations of the iPhone during the quarter. The iPad and other tablets also added to the growth. Mobile broadband services have also increased by more than 9%.


Research by Ovum has suggested that one billion people will rely on their mobile as opposed to any other form of communication by 2015. It is thought that the Asia Pacific region will lead the way in this change with 518 million users by 2015. It is also expected that 3.6 billion people will access the Internet via their mobile in just four years time. It has been pointed out by the authors of the report that the lack of fixed line broadband in some parts of the world has led to an increase in mobile networks.

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