|Wireless News Aggregation|
Dear Friends of Wireless Messaging,
Welcome back to The Wireless Messaging News.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter, and I always look forward to receiving your comments.
Lots of very interesting news this week.
I had to struggle with wether or not to publish the article: “Groundbreaking Research Reveals Hidden Costs Of Pager Usage In U.S. Hospitals” because of its convincing argument that Paging is obsolete.
Then I receved a copy of an excellent letter from Josh Troop, the Marketing guy at Critical Alert & Nurse Call Systems, to Bryan Fiekers, Director of the Advisory Solutions Group at HIMSS Analytics — where this report came from. See LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
Also another excellent message from Jenna Richardson, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at American Messaging. See LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
It wouldn't be right to vilify one more group taking a “pot shot” at Paging technology. We should be used to reading this sort of thing. The article follows below. It was sponsored by TigerText, utilizing research conducted by HIMSS Analytics.
So, if the Advisory Solutions Group at HIMSS Analytics was paid to conduct this “research” by TigerText then no one should be surprised at the conclusions.
I noted the following:
What would you expect to get from a well-financed company with a lot of highly educated and talented people, offering secure, real-time text messaging? Since a lot of people today think it's cool to be “in the know,” and that Paging technology is obsolete. They rush to dump it into the trashcan of history along with home ice delivery, and buggy whips.
So we will not say these are bad folks, just that they are mistaken about the advantages of Paging technology. I am sure that their messaging solution has great merit. We have never said that Paging should be the only wireless messaging solution.
My views on this topic are well known to regular readers of this newsletter.
Basically, we believe that none of the newer technologies offer superior performance to our “tried-and-true” paging networks. None!
Here are some of my articles that explain the paging industry’s view on the timeliness and reliability of paging technology.
There are several more at:
An open and honest discussion is good for all involved.
We all love our cellphones, and we are amazed that they work so well. However, this is a dangerous “false confidence” because in the event of any major disaster our cellphones just don’t work. History has proven this in every disaster like bad weather, and terrorism.
All shared-resource communications systems are designed to drop an acceptable percentage of calls during the busy hour. Anytime an unexpected large number of users try to use a system at the same time, it will slow down, stop, or even crash. Ask anyone who tried to call into or from New York City on 9/11, or New Orleans after hurricane Katrina passed through, or after the bomb blast at the Boston Marathon.
Did you know that by using a common-capcode you could send a page to over a million people at once?
Oppo claims new battery tech charges a phone from flat to full in 15 minutes
The Chinese company also talks up a new image stabilisation technology located on the camera's sensor — rather than the lens. Both will soon be featured on upcoming phones.
by Aloysius Low
With no new phones to show off at Mobile World Congress this year, Oppo focused on two new technologies that could make using its upcoming phones much easier.
The first, called SuperVOOC, is a fast battery charging technology that gets your phone from 0 to 100 percent charge in a mere 15 minutes, Oppo claims. The second, called SmartSensor, builds image stabilisation into the camera sensor, instead of the usual lens-based method.
These innovations will likely come as no surprise for fans of the Chinese electronics maker. The company has a reputation for delivering cool features in its products. Oppo's smartphones, such as the Oppo N1 and N3 with their rotating cameras, have always offered consumers something different.
Oppo says its new technologies will be featured on its upcoming phone, though no other details have yet been disclosed.
SuperVOOC was really impressive. In a demo I saw here, a phone went from 5 percent to fully charged in a matter of minutes. If you're worried that charging a battery that quickly could be unsafe, Oppo says it uses a low-voltage pulse charging algorithm and a custom "super" 2,500mAh battery that regulates the electric current for a safe charging experience. The company says it has 18 patents pending for this tech.
As for the SmartSensor, the company is trying to eliminate blur caused by your hand shaking. This new tiny sensor has a voltage-driven microelectromechanical system built in to absorb shock. Capable of anti-shake compensation on three axes, Oppo says it's better and faster than comparable lens-based two-axis systems.
We're checking with Oppo as to when you can see this new technology in upcoming phones, and will update if we find out more. In the meantime, be sure to check out all the news from Mobile World Congress 2016 here in Barcelona. [Source: c|net ]
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Back in the days of the Prohibition when Al Capone was getting all the attention in Chicago with his gang of bootleggers and murders, the rest of the state of Illinois (from Peoria on South) was controlled by another lesser-known but equally vicious gang: the Sheltons. They grew up on farms here in Wayne County, just a few miles down the country road that I live on today. So the THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK is a corny little ballad about the killing of Carl Shelton. People around here believe the big gang in Chicago had it done because the Sheltons were getting too close to their territory.
Now more news and views.
Wayne County, Illinois
A new issue of the Wireless Messaging Newsletter is posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the web. That way it doesn’t fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world’s major Paging and Wireless Messaging companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers — so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It’s all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology.
I regularly get readers’ comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Messaging communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
I spend the whole week searching the Internet for news that I think may be of interest to you — so you won’t have to. This newsletter is an aggregator — a service that aggregates news from other news sources. You can help our community by sharing any interesting news that you find.
Editorial Opinion pieces present only the opinions of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of advertisers or supporters. This newsletter is independent of any trade association.
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The Board of Advisor members are people with whom I have developed a special rapport, and have met personally. They are not obligated to support the newsletter in any way, except with advice, and maybe an occasional letter to the editor.
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Groundbreaking Research Reveals Hidden Costs Of Pager Usage In U.S. Hospitals
New Research Shows Hospitals Overpay by 45% for Antiquated Paging Technology
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — A new study sponsored by TigerText and utilizing research conducted by HIMSS Analytics and other industry research, revealed how significantly U.S. hospitals are overpaying to maintain legacy paging services. The HIMSS Analytics research in which 200 hospitals were surveyed, revealed that 90% of these organization still use pagers and on average spend around $180,000 per year.
“This research uncovered that a significant number of hospitals still rely on pagers as a cost of doing business. 'Legacy technology' can be difficult to replace despite that more advanced technology is available,” said Bryan Fiekers, Director, Advisory Services Group for HIMSS Analytics.
This in-depth study, titled The Hidden Cost of Pagers in Healthcare, included research from HIMSS Analytics and other market research. The HIMSS Analytics research found that the average paging service cost per device was $9.19 per month, compared to industry research showing the cost of secure messaging app alternatives to be less than $5 per month.
HIMSS Analytics research revealed significant “soft” costs from the continued use of pagers, including:
”Nothing would make me happier than to move away from pagers,” said one CIO at a leading university hospital who participated in the study. “At one time, pagers were more convenient, before people had their cell phones on them all the time; however, there are significant challenges with not using updated technology, such as not having a centralized directory, contacts and call schedules. I think people are going to be happy to shed a device and instead walk around with a device that is theirs and that they already rely upon every day. I think we are in a transition state.”
“We are dedicated to transforming healthcare communication to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to deliver the best patient care possible,” said Brad Brooks, CEO and co-founder of TigerText. “This survey illuminates why the healthcare industry should leave their pagers behind. We now know paging technology is not only a hindrance to sharing data and collaborating around a patient's case, but also extremely costly to U.S. hospitals.”
About the Research
To assess the average pricing paid for secure messaging alternative solutions, TigerText research surveyed more than 1,000 healthcare organizations to ascertain the average price they paid for secure messaging mobile applications. The survey included organizations ranging in size from single location acute care facilities to healthcare systems with multiple locations spread across several states.
To view the survey report, visit http://tiger.tt/lpcostofpagers
About HIMSS Analytics
|RF Demand Solutions|
Wireless: the next generation
A new wave of mobile technology is on its way, and will bring drastic change
Feb 20th 2016 | NEW YORK | From the print edition of The Economist
THE future is already arriving, it is just a question of knowing where to look. On Changshou Road in Shanghai, eagle eyes may spot an odd rectangular object on top of an office block: it is a collection of 128 miniature antennae. Pedestrians in Manhattan can catch a glimpse of apparatus that looks like a video camera on a stand, but jerks around and has a strange, hornlike protrusion where the lens should be. It blasts a narrow beam of radio waves at buildings so they can bounce their way to the receiver. The campus of the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, is dotted with 44 antennae, which form virtual wireless cells that follow a device around.
These antennae are vanguards of a new generation of wireless technologies. Although the previous batch, collectively called “fourth generation”, or 4G, is still being rolled out in many countries, the telecoms industry has already started working on the next, 5G. On February 12th AT&T, America’s second-largest mobile operator, said it would begin testing whether prototype 5G circuitry works indoors, following similar news in September from Verizon, the number one. South Korea wants to have a 5G network up and running when it hosts the Winter Olympics in 2018; Japan wants the same for the summer games in 2020. When the industry holds its annual jamboree, Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona this month, 5G will top the agenda.
Mobile telecoms have come a long way since Martin Cooper of Motorola (pictured), inventor of the DynaTAC, the first commercially available handset, demonstrated it in 1973. In the early 2000s, when 3G technology made web-browsing feasible on mobiles, operators splashed out more than $100 billion on radio-spectrum licenses, only to find that the technology most had agreed to use was harder to implement than expected.
The advent of 5G is likely to bring another splurge of investment, just as orders for 4G equipment are peaking. The goal is to be able to offer users no less than the “perception of infinite capacity”, says Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey. Rare will be the device that is not wirelessly connected, from self-driving cars and drones to the sensors, industrial machines and household appliances that together constitute the “internet of things” (IoT).
It is easy to dismiss all this as “a lot of hype”, in the words of Kester Mann of CCS Insight, a research firm. When it comes to 5G, much is still up in the air: not only which band of radio spectrum and which wireless technologies will be used, but what standards makers of network gear and handsets will have to comply with. Telecoms firms have reached consensus only on a set of rough “requirements”. The most important are connection speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second and response times (“latency”) of below 1 millisecond (see chart).
Yet the momentum is real. South Korea and Japan are front-runners in wired broadband, and Olympic games are an opportunity to show the world that they intend also to stay ahead in wireless, even if that may mean having to upgrade their 5G networks to comply with a global standard once it is agreed. AT&T and Verizon both invested early in 4G, and would like to lead again with 5G. The market for network equipment has peaked, as recent results from Ericsson and Nokia show, so the makers also need a new generation of products and new groups of customers.
On the demand side, too, pressure is mounting for better wireless infrastructure. The rapid growth in data traffic will continue for the foreseeable future, says Sundeep Rangan of NYU Wireless, a department of New York University. According to one estimate, networks need to be ready for a 1,000-fold increase in data volumes in the first half of the 2020s. And the radio spectrum used by 4G, which mostly sits below 3 gigahertz, is running out, and thus getting more expensive. An auction in America last year raked in $45 billion.
But the path to a 5G wireless paradise will not be smooth. It is not only the usual telecoms suspects who will want a say in this mother of all networks. Media companies will want priority to be given to generous bandwidth, so they can stream films with ever higher resolution. Most IoT firms will not need much bandwidth, but will want their sensors to run on one set of batteries for years—so they will want the 5G standard to put a premium on low power consumption. Online-gaming firms will worry about latency: players will complain if it is too high.
The most important set of new actors, however, are information-technology firms. The likes of Apple, IBM and Samsung have a big interest not only in selling more smartphones and other mobile devices, but also in IoT, which is tipped to generate the next big wave of revenues for them and other companies. Google, which already operates high-speed fibre-optic networks in several American cities and may be tempted to build a wireless one, has shown an interest in 5G. In 2014 it bought Alpental Technologies, a startup which was developing a cheap, high-speed communications service using extremely high radio frequencies, known as “millimetre wave” (mmWave), the spectrum bands above 3 gigahertz where most of 5G is expected to live.
To satisfy all these actors will not be easy, predicts Ulf Ewaldsson, Ericsson’s chief technology officer. Questions over spectrum may be the easiest to solve, in part because the World Radiocommunication Conference, established by international treaty, will settle them. Its last gathering, in November, failed to agree on the frequencies for 5G, but it is expected to do so when it next meets in 2019. It is likely to carve out space in the mmWave bands. Tests such as the one in Manhattan mentioned above, which are conducted by researchers from NYU Wireless, have shown that such bands can be used for 5G: although they are blocked even by thin obstacles, they can be made to bounce around them.
For the first time there will not be competing sets of technical rules, as was the case with 4G, when LTE, now the standard, was initially threatened by WiMax, which was bankrolled by Intel, a chipmaker. Nobody seems willing to play Intel’s role this time around. That said, 5G will be facing a strong competitor, especially indoors: smartphone users are increasingly using Wi-Fi connections for calls and texts as well as data. That means they have ever less need for a mobile connection, no matter how blazingly fast it may be.
Evolution or revolution?
The other camp, explains Mr Téral, favours a revolutionary approach: to jump straight to cutting-edge technology. This could mean, for instance, leaving behind the conventional cellular structure of mobile networks, in which a single antenna communicates with all the devices within its cell. Instead, one set of small antennae would send out concentrated radio beams to scan for devices, then a second set would take over as each device comes within reach. It could also mean analysing usage data to predict what kind of connectivity a wireless subscriber will need next and adapt the network accordingly—a technique that the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey wants to develop.
One of the most outspoken representatives of the revolutionary camp is China Mobile. For Chih-Lin I, its chief scientist, wireless networks, as currently designed, are no longer sustainable. Antennae are using ever more energy to push each extra megabit through the air. Her firm’s position, she says, is based on necessity: as the world’s biggest carrier, with 1.1m 4G base stations and 825m subscribers (more than all the European operators put together), problems with the current network architecture are exacerbated by the firm’s scale. Sceptics suspect there may be an “industrial agenda” at work, that favours Chinese equipment-makers and lowers the patent royalties these have to pay. The more different 5G is from 4G, the higher the chances that China can make its own intellectual property part of the standard.
Whatever the motivation, Ms I’s vision of how 5G networks will ultimately be designed is widely shared. They will not only be “super fast”, she says, but “green and soft”, meaning much less energy-hungry and entirely controlled by software. As with computer systems before them, much of a network’s specialised hardware, such as the processor units that sit alongside each cell tower, will become “virtualised”—that is, it will be replaced with software, making it far easier to reconfigure. Wireless networks will become a bit like computing in the online “cloud”, and in some senses will merge with it, using the same off-the-shelf hardware.
Discussions have already begun about how 5G would change the industry’s structure. One question is whether wireless access will become even more of a commodity, says Chetan Sharma, a telecoms consultant. According to his estimates, operators’ share of total industry revenues has already fallen below 50% in America, with the rest going to mobile services such as Facebook’s smartphone apps, which make money through ads.
The switch to 5G could help the operators reverse that decline by allowing them to do such things as market their own video content. But it is easier to imagine their decline accelerating, turning them into low-margin “dumb pipes”. If so, a further consolidation of an already highly concentrated industry may be inevitable: some countries may be left with just one provider of wireless infrastructure, just as they often have only one provider of water.
If the recent history of IT after the rise of cloud computing is any guide—with the likes of Dell, HP and IBM struggling to keep up—network-equipment makers will also get squeezed. Ericsson and Nokia already make nearly half of their sales by managing networks on behalf of operators. But 5G may finally bring about what has been long talked of, says Bengt Nordstrom of Northstream, another consulting firm: the convergence of the makers of computers and telecoms equipment, as standardisation and low margins force them together. Last year Ericsson formed partnerships first with HP and then with Cisco. Full mergers could follow at some point.
Big, ugly mobile-phone masts will also become harder to spot. Antennae will be more numerous, for sure, but will shrink. Besides the rectangular array that China Mobile is testing in Shanghai, it is also experimenting with smaller, subtler “tiles” that can be combined and, say, embedded into the lettering on the side of a building. In this sense, but few others, the future of mobile telecoms will be invisible.
|Source:||The Economist||Article sent in by a friend.|
China Mobile Research Institute GCRC, China
Dr. Chih-Lin I is the Chief Scientist of Wireless Technologies of China Mobile, in charge of advanced wireless communication R&D effort of China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI). She established the Green Communications Research Center of China Mobile, spearheading major initiatives including 5G Key Technologies R&D; high energy efficiency system architecture, technologies, and devices; green energy; C-RAN and soft base station.
Dr. I received her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and has more than 30 years experience in wireless communication technical domain. She has worked in various world-class companies and research institutes, including wireless communication fundamental research department of AT&T Bell Labs; Headquarter of AT&T, as the Director of Wireless Communications Infrastructure and Access Technology; ITRI of Taiwan, as the Director of Wireless Communication Technology; Hong Kong ASTRI, as the VP and the Founding GD of Communications Technology Domain.
Dr. I received the Trans. COM Stephen Rice Best Paper Award, and is a winner of CCCP “National 1000 talent” program. She was an elected Board Member of IEEE ComSoc, Chair of ComSoc Meeting and Conference Board, and the Founding Chair of IEEE WCNC Steering Committee. She is currently the Chair of FuTURE Forum 5G SIG, an Executive Board Member of GreenTouch, a Network Operator Council Member of ETSI NFV, and an Adjunct Professor of BUPT.
Dr. I has shown frequent presence in many important and high-level public occasions for speech delivery. She is often invited as the keynote speaker for diverse audience from academia, industry and governments. She is very active in many venues such as conferences, summits, workshops, panels and so on. This year she has delivered nearly 30 speeches in lots of events such as IEEE WCNC, IEEE ICC, IEEE VTC, IEEE PIMRC, Global Professional Services Forum and so on, which included a 3-hour-long tutorial on C-RAN in Cloud RAN Conference in Paris.
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Some Highlights From the Barcelona Wireless Show
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BARCELONA, Spain — Several smaller phone makers are using this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to unveil new smartphones targeting the lower-end and mid-range markets.
While Samsung got much of the attention for its new handsets and virtual-reality accessories, many smaller brands are trying to shine through as well. Most of these devices cost less, yet sport features that would have been considered top of the line just a few years ago.
Prices and availability will vary. Some phones, for instance, will target emerging markets and won't be available in the U.S.
Other companies that don't even make smartphones, such as car makers, are trying to tap into the technology show's buzz.
Here's a look at some of the news from the show.
Taiwan-based HTC is launching three mid-range phones — the Desire 530, 630 and 825 — with "micro splash" effects. According to HTC, the backs of the phones have essentially been splashed with paint to create individual-looking phones.
Chinese smartphone maker ZTE presented its latest Blade phones — the Blade V7 and Blade V7 Lite. The Blade V7 has a curved-edge glass 5.2-inch screen and will go on market in Germany, Spain, South Africa, Ethiopia and Mexico by summer. The smaller Blade V7 Lite has a 5-inch display and will debut in Russia before being available in Mexico, Spain, Germany and Thailand by spring.
The Japanese company unveiled a new generation of its flagship Xperia line — the Xperia X, Xperia X Performance, and Xperia XA. Sony promises sharper camera focus for action shots, batteries that can last up to two days, and a curved glass display.
It also presented its Xperia Ear, a wireless earpiece that responds to voice commands. The phones and earpiece will be on sale this summer.
Sony has been struggling to challenge bigger brands such as Apple and Samsung, and it even cancelled last fall's launch of the Xperia Z4v in the U.S.
What a difference two years make.
A 2013 study from the Pew Research Center found that in many emerging economies, most cellphone owners had devices that didn't have apps or Internet access. Pew surveyed those countries again last year and found that in Turkey, Malaysia, Chile and China, the majority of cellphone owners now had smartphones.
In the 2015 survey, released Monday in conjunction with the Barcelona show, Pew also saw growth in smartphone use in several populous countries, including Brazil and Russia.
Mobile World Congress isn't just about phones. Automakers are using the show to highlight their efforts to connect cars to information technology.
Ford presented its new Kuga SUV, which features updated technology, such as improved voice commands and easier access to applications on a driver's smartphone. CEO Mark Fields said the car maker will triple investment over the next five years in its aim to develop an autonomously driven car.
NETWORKS OF THE FUTURE
The Barcelona show is also an opportunity for businesses to promote under-the-hood technologies, such as the speedy cellular networks known as LTE.
AT&T and Intel say they will test the use of the ground-based LTE network at higher altitudes to control drones. Currently, drones communicate using shorter-range wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and radio frequency. If it works, LTE will help people guide drones and view live video captured from their cameras even when they go out of range.
Networking companies like Nokia and Ericsson, meanwhile, are testing for next-generation, 5G wireless networks, which will be successors to LTE. The technology is still a few years away from reaching consumers — but it ultimately should help apps, video and other content download much faster over cellular networks.
Anick Jesdanun reported from New York. Jona Kallgren contributed to this report.
|Source:||The New York Times|
Motorola chief Rick Osterloh weighs in on life under Lenovo
Oh, and the Moto G and E aren't going anywhere.
By Chris Velazco
Motorola's split from Google and absorption by Lenovo left many people wondering if one of the world's most interesting phone makers would get mismanaged into oblivion. Motorola President Rick Osterloh sought to clear the air with a candid chat session at Mobile World Congress, where the answer was a pretty emphatic "no."
"We've done an enormous amount of great stuff as part of a broader company," he said.
Aside from shipping devices like the Moto X Pure Edition and the Droid Turbo 2, Motorola has worked to unite product design and development teams under a single banner to make engineering processes smoother. The work is getting ready to really pay off, too — Motorola CMO Adrienne Hayes said the convergence of Motorola and Lenovo's product lineups will happen this summer. Of course, the mashing up of two companies with similar ambitions can be tricky. Plenty of thought has gone into how branding for future devices will work, and the Motorola name will all but disappear from boxes. Pretty soon, the only telltale signs will be the "Moto moniker" and the classic "batwing" logo on phones.
Also, remember those reports that Motorola was going to discontinue the Moto G and Moto E? Those were just the result of lazy journalism. Osterloh confirmed today — just as the company did shortly after those reports started making the rounds — that the Moto G and Moto E would be around for "the foreseeable future" and in "similar markets" to the ones they're available in now. That might seem a little tricky considering Lenovo has low-cost Vibe phones that could theoretically eat into mid and low-end Moto sales outside the U.S., but Osterloh isn't fussed.
"Gap and Banana Republic have overlapping prices, too," he noted. Vibe devices — which have never really had a style of their own — are due to get a Motorola design overhaul to turn them into phones with more of an identity.
Still, it's not clear to what extent Motorola is helping Lenovo financially. None of us could get Osterloh to break out sales numbers, so we really can't tell if Lenovo's recent profitability was because of Motorola's contributions or in spite of them. (We're guessing the former to some extent, but man, selling phones is a rough game.)
Motorola is very firmly a mobile business, but it has also had to redefine what that means a few times over the years. Despite its mostly clear focus on phones, the company was an early developer of Android tablets — remember the Xoom and the Xyboard? Osterloh emphatically pointed out that those days (back when the company was run by Sanjay Jha) are over, and that you won't see a Motorola tablet anytime soon. After all, there are business units inside the Lenovo mothership that are pretty damned good at making tablets already.
Motorola also dabbled in making its own smartphone accessories for a while, like the surprisingly ambitious Hint Bluetooth headset. Many of us were fond of the tiny earpiece, but Motorola's not looking to do more of them — Osterloh called the Hint an "awesome product" but admitted it was "hard to make it a huge success."
We've seen a few mobile companies devote resources to the growing VR space over the past year, too. With VR growing in popularity and prominence, is Motorola doing to craft a mobile VR system? For now, no. Osterloh pointed at teams inside Lenovo that are already devoted to VR — you know, the ones working with Google on that sweet, sweet Project Tango phone that'll hopefully make an appearance here.
|Source:||engadget||(Thanks to Barry Kanne)|
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Facebook isn’t the enemy in messaging, Mark Zuckerberg tells telecoms
By Jeremy Kahn
The relationship between telecommunications carriers and messaging apps such as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger is “symbiotic,” not hostile, Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg told a packed audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in a talk that ranged across subjects from providing connectivity to the world’s poor to controversies over encryption.
While Facebook’s billionaire founder acknowledged that “there might be tension in any relationship,” he sees the interaction between telecommunications networks and messaging platforms as complementary. He said greater use of messaging services, especially to send photos and video, means more traffic — and more revenue — for telecom networks.
Telecom carriers simply need to shift to business models that make money from data transmission instead of voice or text messages, Zuckerberg said, adding that many networks have already made the adjustment.
Facebook needs mobile phone data networks to work better and faster as it builds products for live-streaming video and virtual reality. So it’s asking telecom companies to partner and share designs, in an initiative that could accelerate the spread of 5G connectivity.
Zuckerberg also said he didn’t believe that messaging apps should be regulated by government in the same way traditional network operators are because the telecom carriers build infrastructure, from fiber optics to cellular towers, and Facebook doesn’t. He also said Facebook favored governments giving telecom providers the freedom to build out 5G capacity.
Expanding on a statement Facebook issued last week backing Apple Inc. in its fight to resist a court order to help the government break the encryption on an iPhone used in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., Zuckerberg said he was sympathetic with Apple’s position.
“I don’t think that requiring backdoors into encryption will be an effective way to do security,” he said.
During his talk, the CEO also expressed disappointment in India’s decision to block Facebook’s Free Basics service, which provided free, limited Internet access.
“It is a major setback for India,” he said.
Zuckerberg said his company and the Internet.org coalition of tech companies founded by Facebook would continue to try to find other ways to bring online the estimated 1 billion people in India who lack consistent Internet connectivity.
“Facebook doesn’t hit a roadblock and just give up,” he said.
Internet.org is testing a solar-powered drone that would use a laser-based transmission technology to bring Internet connectivity to some of the most inaccessible parts of the planet.
Zuckerberg also expressed excitement about the way virtual reality video will transform social networking. He said 1 million people were already sharing 360-degree video on Facebook each day and that this number would only grow.
Describing the transition to video-based sharing and communication as a shift every bit as profound and potentially difficult to navigate for social networking companies as the evolution from desktop to mobile that occurred four years ago, Zuckerberg said he was pushing Facebook to get ahead of this trend. The company acquired Oculus, the virtual reality headset manufacturer, in 2014 for $2 billion and Oculus is planning to debut a new Rift headset later this year.
Zuckerberg said he didn’t want Facebook to bungle the transition to virtual reality and video sharing the way it struggled to make the transition to mobile social networking.
AT&T, telecoms aren't rallying to Apple's side in FBI case
Marco della Cava and Mike Snider
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple's stand-off with the government over hacking into an iPhone used by a San Bernardino shooter has everyone from tech titans to average citizens taking sides.
Just not the nation's cellular carriers.
AT&T, T-Mobile and others are expressing their position on the unfolding privacy drama in carefully neutral statements — if at all.
AT&T has released a statement asking for "legal clarity," noting that many existing telecommunications laws were crafted in a pre-cell phone era. The company's concluding comment seems, if broadly, to cast its lot with one arm of the government: "In a democracy, it is the elected representatives of the people, in this case the Congress, who should decide the proper balance between public safety and personal privacy.”
Normally outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere took a diplomatic stance during a CNBC interview last week, acknowledging that Apple CEO Tim Cook was "in a really, really difficult spot. I mean obviously what we have got is an unheralded situation where he’s being requested to help authorities deal with the security of the device. … We will see where it goes. I wouldn’t know how to advise him. But I understand both sides of the issue. I think it’s groundbreaking."
Sprint and Verizon have not released statements on the debacle, and did not respond to requests for comment.
The tone is a significant contrast with the big consumer tech companies and their top execs, several of whom have clearly and loudly thrown their support behind Apple.
At Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated bluntly , "We’re sympathetic with Apple. We believe in encryption."
Government regulated, but intertwined with Apple
Neutral language on the topic from the telecom carriers may be of little surprise given their position as companies that are regulated by the federal government but that also often depend on a relationship with Apple to generate business.
"It makes sense that there would be (a telco) appeal to Congress," says Angelo Zino of S&P Global Market Intelligence. "If you're them, you don't want Apple dictating right or wrong, or the government doing so. You want a neutral third party."
That said, Zino adds that eventually he expects companies such as AT&T and Verizon to "side with Apple's views" with regard to favoring the security of consumer data "as over time a growing amount of big data will be sent via telcos" and their customers' information security may tip the scales.
Apple has won support for its refusal to build a back door to the shooter's iPhone 5C, arguing that such a program could be misused later, from Google CEO Sundar Pichai , Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Microsoft's chief legal officer , and several tech trade groups.
In contrast, a new Pew Research Center poll reveals that 51% of respondents feel Apple should unlock the iPhone, with 38% saying no, and the rest not sure.
For the moment, 'if you're (a cellular carrier), you're caught in the middle, with the government overseeing your industry but with the iPhone also being a huge driver of customers," says David Heger, senior equity analyst with Edward Jones. "It's a continual dance with the government, so they'll want to pick their battles."
But telecommunications companies also have their reputations with consumers to consider. Recalling the aftermath of the Edward Snowden data leaks in 2013, Heger points out that AT&T was considered a partner by the National Security Agency, handing over more than a billion phone-related documents to the spy agency.
Under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), wireless carriers already must have their own “back door” to allow surveillance by law enforcement on suspected terrorists or criminals. In the wake of revelations by Snowden of extensive wiretapping and data collection, tech companies began releasing new devices, in this case an iPhone 5C, that cannot be so easily unlocked.
While telco giants sit quietly on the sidelines as this drama unfolds, Apple has an unlikely ally in its defiance of the government's request -- and one recent high-profile technology detractor.
Michael Hayden, the former NSA director who oversaw and still defends the data mining project, told USA TODAY's Capital Download Monday that he supports the Cupertino company in its tussle with the government.
"(FBI director) Jim (Comey) would like a back door available to American law enforcement in all devices globally," said Hayden. "And, frankly, I think on balance that actually harms American safety and security, even though it might make Jim's job a bit easier in some specific circumstances."
But Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, no stranger to tussles with the U.S. government, told the Financial Times he thought Apple should help the U.S. government hack into the locked iPhone in question.
Follow USA TODAY tech reporters Marco della Cava and Mike Snider on Twitter: @marcodellacava & @MikeSnider
Contributing: Ed Baig from Barcelona
The 5 biggest reveals from Apple's motion to dismiss the FBI's court order
On Thursday, Apple issued a motion to dismiss the FBI's court order. Here are five things we learned.
By Oscar Raymundo | @oscarraymundo
On Thursday, Apple filed a motion to vacate the court order compelling the iPhone-maker to create a hackable version of iOS that the FBI can use to break into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
In the filing, Apple’s main argument is that its software is protected speech, and that the government asking the company to fabricate software that goes against its beliefs is a violation of its First and Fifth Amendment rights.
We read through the 65-page filing, and spotted the following revelations.
1. GovtOS would take 10 Apple engineers four weeks to create
Furthermore, Apple will either have to create a brute-force tool to enter passcodes, or help the FBI build it. Once GovtOS is created, the software will have to go through Apple’s quality assurance and security testing. And Apple will have to record exactly how all of this was developed in case it ever comes up in court. To top it off, “if the new operating system has to be destroyed and recreated each time a new order is issued, the burden will multiply.”
2. Congress has said that companies like Apple are actually excluded from the All Writs Act
“Congress declared via CALEA that the government cannot dictate to providers of electronic communications services or manufacturers of telecommunications equipment any specific equipment design or software configuration,” reads the filing.
3. This order is like forcing a pharmaceutical company to create a lethal drug
“While these sweeping powers might be nice to have from the government’s perspective, they simply are not authorized by law and would violate the Constitution,” Apple’s motion states.
4. If forced to comply, Apple will have to create an in-house ‘hacking’ unit
“Responding to these demands would effectively require Apple to create full-time positions in a new ‘hacking’ department to service government requests and to develop new versions of the back-door software every time iOS changes,” according to the filing.
5. Just because Apple created the iPhone doesn’t imply accountability for how it’s used
“The All Writs Act does not allow the government to compel a manufacturer’s assistance merely because it has placed a good into the stream of commerce. Apple is no more connected to this phone than General Motors is to a company car used by a fraudster on his daily commute,” according to the filing.
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Selected portions of the BloostonLaw Telecom Update, and/or the BloostonLaw Private Users Update — newsletters from the Law Offices of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP — are reproduced in this section with the firm’s permission.
REMINDER: CPNI Certifications Due March 1
At the beginning of February, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an FCC Enforcement Advisory reminding those telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers currently subject to the FCC’s rules protecting Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) of their obligation to file, by March 1, their annual reports certifying compliance with the CPNI rules.
Failure to comply with the CPNI rules, including the annual certification requirement, may subject them to enforcement action, including monetary forfeitures of up to $160,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000.
Chairman Wheeler Circulates Universal Service Order
On February 19, the FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler made a post on the FCC’s official blog announcing the
According to the Chairman’s statement, the proposed Order would:
While the details of the Order are not known, BloostonLaw notes that a February 5 ex parte filed by two of the major trade associations for ILECs discussed reducing the rate-of-return from its current level of 11.25% to 9.75%, by decreasing the rate .25% per year for a period of 6 years. It is anticipated that an Order will be released in March.
FCC Adopts Closed Captioning Second Report and Order
On February 18, the FCC adopted a Second Report and Order in which it allocates the responsibilities of video programming distributors (VPDs) and video programmers with respect to the provision and quality of closed captions on television programming. While all captioning responsibilities were primarily in the hands of VPDs, the Second Report and Order finds that obligations associated with compliance with the FCC’s closed captioning quality rules should be divided between VPDs and video programmers, making each entity responsible for closed captioning quality issues that are primarily within its control. To the extent that our clients may produce video programming that is aired by local broadcasters or carried on local cable TV channels, you will need to familiarize yourself with the new requirements. Our clients should also be aware that the FCC has retained the self-implementing exemptions from the closed captioning requirements that are described in Section 79.1(d) of the Commission’s Rules. Therefore, if your programming was previously exempt from captioning under one of these criteria, such as the exemption for locally produced and distributed non-news programming with no repeat value, then it is likely still exempt from captioning under the new rules. Contact our law firm if you have any questions in this regard. The new rules become effective 30 days after
Specifically, the Second Report and Order amends the FCC’s rules to:
In 1997, the FCC placed sole responsibility for compliance with its television closed captioning rules on VPDs, and merely expected that “owners and producers will be involved in the captioning process.” Later, the FCC similarly placed the responsibility for compliance with the closed captioning quality standards on VPDs, although it recognized that the creation and delivery of quality closed captioning is not solely within the control of VPDs and that video programmers play a “critical role” in providing closed captions to viewers and allowed VPDs to satisfy their obligations by certifying best efforts on quality working with video programmers.
In addition, the Second Report and Order revised the Commission’s mechanism for reviewing and responding to consumer complaints regarding closed captioning, and will now require all video programming providers to file with the FCC an annual certification that it is either in compliance with the closed captioning rules or that it is exempt, in which case its response must specify the specific exemption claimed. We will be glad to assist our clients with the preparation and filing of these annual certifications. As a related matter, programmers will also be required to register their contact information with the FCC for the receipt and handling of written closed captioning complaints from consumers. The FCC will issue a future Public Notice to provide guidance on annual certification procedures and deadlines for video programmers to file contact information once the new rules go into effect and the Commission’s web site is ready to receive such contact information and certifications.
FCC Issues Notice of Inquiry on Video Programming Diversity
On February 18, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on “the principal challenges independent video programmers face in gaining carriage of their content on both traditional and emerging distribution platforms.” Comments will be due 30 days after publication of the NOI in the Federal Register, and reply comments will be due 50 days after publication.
The NOI specifically invites comment on several issues that independent programmers and other interested parties have raised in other proceedings, including:
Lastly, the NOI asks about the Commission’s legal authority in this area and what role, if any, it should play in addressing obstacles that hinder consumers from accessing sources of independent and diverse programming.
FCC Adopts “Unlock the Box” Set Top Box NPRM
At its February 18 Open Meeting, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking designed to “create a framework for providing innovators, device manufacturers, and app developers the information they need to develop new technologies, reflecting the many ways consumers access their subscription video programming today.”
Specifically, in the NPRM , the FCC:
Comments will be due 30 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, and reply comments will be due 60 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.
Law & Regulation
International Bureau Seeks Comment on ORBIT Act Report
On February 19, the FCC’s International Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the impact of privatization on U.S. industry, jobs, and industry access to the global marketplace and any progress since the last report affecting the objectives of the ORBIT Act. Comments are due March 21, and reply comments are due April 4. Comments received will be reflected in the next ORBIT Act report and made available in full to the House and Senate committees.
Section 646 of the Open-Market Reorganization for the Betterment of International Telecommunications Act (ORBIT Act) requires the FCC to report annually to the Committees on Commerce and International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Committees on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the ORBIT Act is to promote a fully competitive global market for satellite communications services for the benefit of consumers and providers of satellite services and equipment by fully privatizing the intergovernmental satellite organizations, INTELSAT and Inmarsat.
Anti-Spoofing Legislation Introduced
On February 22, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced bipartisan legislation, known as the Spoofing Prevention Act of 2016. According to a press release, the bill would “close existing legal loopholes that allow fraudulent caller ID information to be conveyed through texts, certain IP-enabled voice services, and calls originating outside the United States.”
Specifically, the bill prohibits caller ID spoofing on voice calls, including calls made by persons outside of the United States to callers located inside the United States and all calls made using IP-enabled voice services. It also prohibits caller ID spoofing on text messages.
The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the actions the FCC and the FTC have taken to combat spoofing, and to identify any additional measures that may be needed to combat this practice.
Finally, the bill also directs the FCC to publish on its website a report identifying existing technology consumers can use to protect themselves against Caller ID spoofing.
FCC Seeks Comment on Terminating Dormant Proceedings
On February 22, the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (“CGB”) issued a Public Notice seeking comment on whether numerous docketed Commission proceedings should be terminated as dormant in its fifth Dormant Proceedings Termination Public Notice. The proceedings to be terminated include dockets in which no further action is required or contemplated by the FCC, as well as those in which no pleadings or other documents have been filed for several years. The termination of a dormant proceeding includes dismissal as moot of any pending petition, motion, or other request for relief that is procedural in nature or otherwise does not address the merits of the proceeding. The records in terminated proceedings remain part of the Commission’s official records, and the various pleadings, orders, and other documents in these dockets continue to be accessible to the public, post-termination.
Parties with pending proceedings at the FCC should review the list and consider filing comments. According to the FCC, proceedings in which petitions addressing the merits are pending should not be terminated, absent the parties’ consent. However, to the extent that a particular proceeding includes a petition addressing the merits or other pending pleadings, a party’s failure to file comments in response to the FCC's Public Notice will be construed as consent to termination of that proceeding.
Comments on the proceedings to be terminated will be due 30 days and reply comments will be due after 45 days after Federal Register publication of the Public Notice.
Google Fiber Partners with Municipality to Bring High Speed Broadband to Alabama
On February 22, Google announced through its official Google Fiber blog that will be bringing Google Fiber to Huntsville, Alabama, using part of the fiber network that Huntsville Utilities is building. The partnership is a result of Request for Proposals (RFP) for a high speed broadband vendor the city issued in 2014. At the time, the mayor stated that Huntsville Utilities "will not be a direct responder to the RFP" — meaning the utility will not seek to provide the service directly as Chattanooga, Tennessee's public utility does. However, the mayor's office said that, if no "suitable" proposals come from private companies, the "city would explore a public entity like Huntsville utilities providing the infrastructure."
The ultimate plan is for Huntsville to design and construct the network, and then any broadband provider can bring high-speed Internet service to the city. Comcast and AT&T have both announced plans to provide fiber speeds. The goal for Huntsville: using part of the fiber network that Huntsville Utilities is building, Google Fiber will begin connecting homes and businesses next year with a complete roll out by 2020.
MARCH 1: COPYRIGHT STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FORM FOR CABLE COMPANIES. This form, plus royalty payment for the second half of calendar year 2015, is due March 1. The form covers the period July 1 to December 31, 2015, and is due to be mailed directly to cable TV operators by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office. If you do not receive the form, please contact Gerry Duffy.
MARCH 1: CPNI ANNUAL CERTIFICATION. Carriers should modify (as necessary) and complete their “Annual Certification of CPNI Compliance” for 2016. The certification must be filed with the FCC by March 1. Note that the annual certification should include the following three required Exhibits: (a) a detailed Statement Explaining How the Company’s Operating Procedures Ensure Compliance with the FCC’S CPNI Rules to reflect the Company’s policies and information; (b) a Statement of Actions Taken against Data Brokers; and (c) a Summary of Customer Complaints Regarding Unauthorized Release of CPNI. A company officer with personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the rules must execute the Certification, place a copy of the Certification and accompanying Exhibits in the Company’s CPNI Compliance Records, and file the certification with the FCC in the correct fashion. Our clients can forward the original to BloostonLaw in time for the firm to make the filing with the FCC by March 1, if desired. BloostonLaw is prepared to help our clients meet this requirement, which we expect will be strictly enforced, by assisting with preparation of their certification filing; reviewing the filing to make sure that the required showings are made; filing the certification with the FCC, and obtaining a proof-of-filing copy for your records. Clients interested in obtaining BloostonLaw's CPNI compliance manual should contact Gerry Duffy (202-828-5528) or Mary Sisak (202-828-5554). Note: If you file the CPNI certification, you must also file the FCC Form 499-A Telecom Reporting Worksheet by April 1.
MARCH 1: FCC FORM 477, LOCAL COMPETITION & BROADBAND REPORTING FORM. This annual form is due March 1 and September 1 annually. The FCC requires facilities-based wired, terrestrial fixed wireless, and satellite broadband service providers to report on FCC Form 477 the number of broadband subscribers they have in each census tract they serve. The Census Bureau changed the boundaries of some census tracts as part of the 2010 Census.
Specifically, three types of entities must file this form:
MARCH 31: INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT CAPACITY REPORT. No later than March 31, all U.S. international carriers that owned or leased bare capacity on a submarine cable between the United States and any foreign point on December 31, 2015 and any person or entity that held a submarine cable landing license on December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report to provide information about the submarine cable capacity it holds. Additionally, cable landing licensees must file information on the Circuit Capacity Report about the amount of available and planned capacity on the submarine cable for which they have a license. Any U.S. International Carrier that owned or leased bare capacity on a terrestrial or satellite facility as of December 31, 2015 must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active common carrier circuits for the provision of service to an end-user or resale carrier, including active circuits used by itself or its affiliates. Any satellite licensee that is not a U.S. International Carrier and that owns circuits between the United States and any foreign point as of December 31, 2015 of the reporting period must file a Circuit Capacity Report showing its active circuits sold or leased to any customer, including itself or its affiliates, other than a carrier authorized by the FCC to provide U.S. international common carrier services.
APRIL 1: FCC FORM 499-A, TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTING WORKSHEET. This form must be filed by all contributors to the Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms, the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund, the cost recovery mechanism for the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA), and the shared costs of local number portability (LNP). Contributors include every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications, and certain other entities that provide interstate telecommunications for a fee. Even common carriers that qualify for the de minimis exemption must file Form 499-A. Entities whose universal service contributions will be less than $10,000 qualify for the de minimis exemption. De minimis entities do not have to file the quarterly report (FCC Form 499-Q), which was due February 1, and will again be due May 1. Form 499-Q relates to universal and LNP mechanisms. Form 499-A relates to all of these mechanisms and, hence, applies to all providers of interstate, intrastate, and international telecommunications services. Form 499-A contains revenue information for January 1 through December 31 of the prior calendar year. And Form 499-Q contains revenue information from the prior quarter plus projections for the next quarter. (Note: the revised 499-A and 499-Q forms are now available.) Block 2-B of the Form 499-A requires each carrier to designate an agent in the District of Columbia upon whom all notices, process, orders, and decisions by the FCC may be served on behalf of that carrier in proceedings before the FCC. Carriers receiving this newsletter may specify our law firm as their D.C. agent for service of process using the information in our masthead. There is no charge for this service.
APRIL 1: ANNUAL ACCESS TO ADVANCED SERVICES CERTIFICATION. All providers of telecommunications services and telecommunications carriers subject to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act are required to file with the FCC an annual certification that (1) states the company has procedures in place to meet the recordkeeping requirements of Part 14 of the Rules; (2) states that the company has in fact kept records for the previous calendar year; (3) contains contact information for the individual or individuals handling customer complaints under Part 14; (4) contains contact information for the company’s designated agent; and (5) is supported by an affidavit or declaration under penalty of perjury signed by an officer of the company.
MAY 31: FCC FORM 395, EMPLOYMENT REPORT. Common carriers, including wireless carriers, with 16 or more full-time employees must file their annual Common Carrier Employment Reports (FCC Form 395) by May 31. This report tracks carrier compliance with rules requiring recruitment of minority employees. Further, the FCC requires all common carriers to report any employment discrimination complaints they received during the past year. That information is also due on June 1. The FCC encourages carriers to complete the discrimination report requirement by filling out Section V of Form 395, rather than submitting a separate report.
FY 2017 FCC Budget Seeks New "Spectrum License Fee Authority" for Unauctioned Spectrum
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama proposed a $4.1 trillion spending plan for fiscal year 2017. As part of the budget process, the FCC has released its own FY 2017 Congressional Budget Request in which the Administration is proposing new authority for the Commission to collect spectrum license user fees. The FCC would be authorized to set charges for unauctioned spectrum licenses “based on spectrum-management principles” and would be in addition to the annual regulatory user fees that the FCC currently collects from licensees to cover the cost of FCC "enforcement activities, policy and rulemaking activities, user information services, and international activities."
While the budget document is short on details as to what new spectrum fees are contemplated, or who would pay these fees, this is potentially big news for alarm companies and other businesses that currently rely on access to “free” spectrum, such as the shared spectrum licensed under Part 90 of the FCC’s Rules. The FCC contemplates that fees “would be phased in over time as part of an ongoing rulemaking process to determine the appropriate application and level for fees.” The Administration estimates the fee will bring in $225 million in 2017, $325 million in 2018 and $425 million in 2019 before leveling off at a steady $550 million annually from 2020 through 2026.
Wireless trade group CTIA came out strongly against any new spectrum fees, which would not apply to auctioned spectrum, but which could theoretically be extended to cellular licenses that were previously awarded by lottery. The vast majority of these licenses are now held by AT&T and Verizon, but independent and rural carriers may also hold significant stakes in cellular operations and these entities could be disproportionately harmed by the fee proposal. “Fees would be a tax that will depress auction revenues, harm investment and do nothing to free up additional bands of spectrum or advance consumers' adoption of wireless broadband services,” said a CTIA vice president of Government Affairs.
Other legislative proposals contained in the FCC’s FY 2017 Budget is a proposal to allow the FCC to conduct auctions to assign licenses for certain domestic satellite services, as had been done before a 2005 court decision called the practice into question on technical grounds, and a proposal for the FCC to either auction or use fee authority to assign flexible-use licenses for the 1675-1680 MHz Band, which spectrum is currently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for weather balloons and weather satellite downlinks.
Because language in the FY 2017 Budget proposal specifically mentions “unauctioned spectrum licenses,” this new spectrum license fee proposal would seem to preclude new fees on the use of unlicensed bands. However, one can wonder if the fee regime may eventually be extended to unlicensed spectrum if successful for licensed spectrum.
Given the amount of money that the Government expects this fee to generate – which by FY2019 will significantly exceed the amount that the FCC was required to collect through its annual regulatory fees in FY2015 — we anticipate that these could significantly impact our private user clients. Please contact our office if you would like assistance in making your views regarding this proposal known to the relevant law makers.
FCC Grants Waiver of 3.65 GHz Application Freeze
The FCC has granted Teach, Inc’s. request for waiver of the application freeze in order to obtain a non-exclusive nationwide license in the 3.65-3.7 GHz band. The application filing freeze was put in place in April 2015 in order to facilitate the transition of the 3.653.7 GHz Band Service into the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3700 MHz band.
Teach is a non-profit corporation based in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky that supports the Work Ready Community initiatives surrounding broadband availability, GED and higher education, National Career Readiness Certificate, and soft skills certifications and college/career preparations. As part of the County’s preparations to obtain a Work Ready Community certification, from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the County’s fiscal court pledged to provide $250,000 over three years to increase broadband availability with in the County. Based upon this commitment, the fiscal court obtained grants to fund the infrastructure necessary to implement the broadband initiative – which amounted to more than $590,000. These funds were awarded by the fiscal Court to Teach in order to complete the broadband initiative using 3.65-3.7 GHz spectrum.
Teach learned of the FCC’s application freeze in May, 2015, after it had been awarded the grant and purchased the necessary equipment. Teach has secured the rights to mount its transmission equipment at multiple sites and is ready to commence service using all five access points within the County. On November 18, 2015, Teach requested a waiver of the application freeze — which was necessary since the FCC incorporated the 3.65-3.7 GHz band within the new Citizens Broadband Radio Service. In concluding that Teach met its burden to justify a rule waiver because of the risk to the project, the FCC noted that Teach’s operations would not be grandfathered since its system did not predate the FCC’s order creating the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. As such, Teach will ultimately be required to transition to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service and its system will not be protected from harmful interference from systems in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service.
Ownership Changes & Internal Corporate Reorganizations May Require FCC Approval
We want to remind our clients that many types of reorganizations, estate planning and tax savings activities and other transactions require prior FCC approval. Companies planning on such transactions should determine whether they must file an application for FCC approval, and obtain a grant, before closing the transaction. Transactions requiring prior FCC approval include (but are not limited to):
Fortunately, transactions involving many types of licenses can often be approved on an expedited basis. But this is not always the case, especially if bidding credits and/or commercial wireless spectrum are involved. Also, in some instances Section 214 authority may be required, especially in the case of wireline and other telephony services. Clients planning transactions should contact us as soon as possible in order to determine if FCC approval is needed.
Apple Ordered to Unlock San Bernardino Shooter’s Phone
On February 16, the Associated Press reported that a federal magistrate in California ordered iPhone maker Apple to help the FBI break into the cell phone of one of the shooters involved in the San Bernardino attack of December 2, 2015, in which Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a Dec. 2 shooting at a holiday luncheon for Farook's coworkers. Specifically, the ruling by Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym requires Apple to supply highly specialized software the FBI can load onto the phone in order to disable the security encryption feature that erases data after too many unsuccessful unlocking attempts.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook says the company will fight the order, calling it “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” in an open letter published today. Cook continued, “Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.” Currently, the issue is playing out both the court of public opinion and the court of law and it remains to be seen what the ultimate result will be.
While it appears that Apple is interested in protecting its customers’ privacy against unjust government intrusion, it is important to note that the iPhone in question was owned not by Syed Farook, but by San Bernardino County – which consented to the search of the phone. Office clients that issue mobile telephones and other wireless devices to their employees should develop a policy statement that clearly delineates what rights employees have and do not have with respect to employer issued devices – including whether or not the employee has an expectation of privacy from employer sanctioned searches of devices.
FCC Modifies 218-219 MHz Service Station License to Facilitate Positive Train Control
Since the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia last year, great attention has been focused on the Congressionally mandated Positive Train Control or PTC as a means to make rail travel in the United States safer. As part of this initiative, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) acquired the license for 218-219 MHz Service station KIVD0002 in New York. Unfortunately, the license did not cover all of the counties necessary for the MTA to provide PTC service throughout its service area.
In the Proposed Order of Modification, the FCC proposed to modify the license for station KIVD0002, which the MTA acquired to implement PTC for its Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad. While the license for station KIVD0002 covered all of the counties served by the Long Island Railroad, it only covered five of the nine counties served by the Metro-North Railroad as well as several other counties in northern New Jersey that are covered by NJ Transit (which is unrelated to MTA). Under the FCC’s order proposing modification of the license for station KIVD002, MTA would be authorized the use of spectrum from the Commission’s inventory in Dutchess and Orange Counties in New York as well as Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut in exchange for a return of 250 kHz of spectrum (218.751-219 MHz) covering the five northern New Jersey Counties (Essex, Passaic, Morris, Somerset and Union) to the FCC.
The proposed license modification was opposed by Warren Havens and seven associated entities for a variety of reasons, including: collateral attacks on the underlying license renewal of station KIVD0002 and interference concerns as a result of the FCC’s MTA Power Waiver Order. While the FCC denied most of Havens’ challenges, it granted, in part, the petition for reconsideration as it related to station KIVD0002 by requiring the various railroads operated by MTA to further attenuate any out-of-band emissions when operating under the higher power limits necessary to facilitate PTC. Otherwise, the Haven petition was denied.
The FCC concluded that the proposed frequency exchange to facilitate PTC in all of the Metro-North service areas and the assignment of spectrum to NJ Transit was in the public interest inasmuch as it would promote the vital public interest in rail safety along one of the busiest commuter rail corridors by allowing Metro-North to complete its PTC deployment and Amtrak to utilize PTC equipped passenger trains on Metro-North track as well as allow NJ Transit to be in a position to implement PTC in its northern New Jersey service areas.
Tesla Exploration Enters into $50,000 Consent Decree for Unauthorized Operation
On August 3, 2012, the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in the amount of $66,000 against Tesla Exploration for unauthorized operation on eleven (11) frequencies at various fixed sites in the Bigler, Pennsylvania area over a two-day period. These radio operations were part of a multi-site, multi-frequency geo-surveying project that Tesla was conducting in the Bigler area. These operations were detected because of interference caused to the McKean County 911 Operations Center in Smethport, Pennsylvania. Tesla also admitted that it had not received authorization from the FCC to operate on these channels at fixed locations.
Under the consent decree, Tesla will be required to make a voluntary contribution to the US Treasury in the amount of $66,000. Additionally, Tesla will also be required to designate a compliance officer and develop a compliance plan which includes operating procedures, a compliance manual and a compliance training program – all of which have milestones for completion within either 30 or 60 calendar days. Additionally, Tesla will be required to report instances of non-compliance within 15 calendar days of discovery and provide compliance reports at the 90 day, 1 year, 2 year and 3 year bench marks.
It is very important to ensure that all radio operations are in compliance with your license authorizations. For operations that are needed on a temporary basis, please contact our office. The FCC has frequencies that can be licensed on an itinerant basis. If those frequencies are not suitable, then it will be necessary to apply for special temporary authority (STA). In this regard, it is important to note that operations pursuant to an itinerant license or STA are secondary in nature; meaning that these operations may not cause harmful interference to licensed operations and must accept interference from those operations.
|This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice. Those interested in more information should contact the firm. For additional information, please contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or email@example.com .|
Wireless Trends Continue to Improve;
Board Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend
February 24, 2016 04:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
SPRINGFIELD, Va.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPOK), a global leader in critical communications, today announced operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2015. In addition, the Company’s Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.125 per share, payable on March 30, 2016 to stockholders of record on March 18, 2016.
In the 2015 fourth quarter, consolidated revenue was $47.3 million, compared to $51.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 and $46.2 million in the third quarter of 2015. Software revenue increased 10.7 percent from the prior quarter to $18.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to $19.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 and $16.8 million in the third quarter of 2015. Wireless revenue totaled $28.7 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $31.7 million in the year-earlier quarter and $29.4 million in the prior quarter.
Fourth quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and accretion) totaled $9.9 million, or 20.9 percent of revenue, compared to $8.7 million, or 16.9 percent of revenue, in the year-earlier quarter, and $10.1 million, or 21.8 percent of revenue, in the third quarter of 2015.
Net income for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $72.7 million, or $3.53 per diluted share, compared to $6.9 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2015, net income included a non-cash income tax benefit of $68.4 million. The income tax benefit resulted from the reduction of the deferred income tax asset valuation allowance reflecting the Company’s fourth quarter analysis of its future operations. In accordance with applicable accounting standards that analysis determined that more of the Company’s deferred income tax assets are recoverable in future periods and this quarter’s income tax benefit reflects that adjustment. Excluding this benefit, fourth quarter 2015 net income would have totaled $4.3 million or $0.21 per diluted share.
For the full-year 2015, consolidated revenue was $189.6 million, compared to $200.3 million in 2014. Wireless revenue was $119.0 million and software revenue was $70.6 million, compared to $132.4 million and $67.9 million, respectively, for 2014. Software revenue increased 4 percent from the prior year.
EBITDA for 2015 was $39.1 million, or 20.6 percent of revenue, compared to $44.8 million, or 22.4 percent of revenue, for 2014.
Net income for 2015 was $84.2 million, or $3.98 per diluted share, compared to net income of $20.7 million, or $0.94 per diluted share, for the previous year. In 2015, net income included a non-cash income tax benefit related to the reduction of the valuation allowance associated with the Company’s deferred income tax assets. In the fourth quarter the Company determined that more of the deferred income tax assets are recoverable in future periods and the 2015 income tax benefit reflects that adjustment. Excluding this income tax benefit, full year 2015 net income would have totaled $15.9 million, or $0.75 per diluted share.
Other key results and highlights for the fourth quarter and 2015 included:
“We are encouraged with our performance in the fourth quarter of 2015 and for the full year”, said Vincent D. Kelly, chief executive officer. “We met or exceeded our expectations on a number of key operating measures, including revenue levels, operating expense management, cash flow and subscriber retention. We achieved these results, as we continued to invest in our future, enhancing and upgrading our operating platforms and sales infrastructure. We believe that these investments in our systems and people position us well for the future. For the full year, software revenue grew, while our backlog and pipeline remained strong and wireless revenue and paging unit attrition was slower than anticipated. Overall, we continued to operate profitably, enhance our product offerings, and further strengthen our balance sheet. Our ability to generate healthy cash flow levels allowed us to execute against our capital allocation strategy, make key strategic investments and return the majority of our cash flow to our stockholders in excess of our capital allocation commitment in the form of dividends and share repurchases.”
Commenting on software results, Kelly said: “Fourth quarter 2015 total software revenue increased nearly 11 percent from the prior quarter, and for the full year increased more than 4 percent from 2014.” Kelly attributed higher fourth quarter and full year software revenue primarily to a continuing trend of a more than 99 percent renewal rate on software maintenance contracts. Maintenance revenue is a largely recurring revenue stream that provides Spok with a more stable revenue and margin base.
Fourth quarter 2015 software bookings of $18.5 million were up nearly 11 percent from the prior quarter. For the full year, bookings totaled $74.0 million, a slight decline from prior-year levels. “Demand remained strong in the domestic markets for upgrades and installations of call center solutions, along with healthcare applications to increase patient safety, improve nursing workflows and enhance organizational efficiencies,” said Kelly. “While domestic markets performed well, we saw some sluggishness in the international markets of both EMEA and APAC.”
Continued Kelly, “We are focused on investments to grow our software solutions business, while maintaining our valuable wireless revenue stream. In 2015 we took steps to strengthen our leadership team, as Hemant Goel became president of Spok’s operating company and more recently with the addition of industry veteran Don Soucy as executive vice president of global sales. We also reorganized and augmented our sales team with key additions at all levels, focused on product development, and invested in our business operations platform and infrastructure. We believe that these investments will pay dividends in 2016 and beyond as we continue on a path toward sustainable growth.”
The Company posted solid results for its wireless products and services in the fourth quarter. Gross pager placements totaled 31,000 versus 35,000 in the year-earlier quarter, while gross disconnects of 50,000 improved from 53,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014. “As a result, annual net pager losses declined to a near historical low of 6.6 percent from the prior year-end and were down 1.6 percent for the fourth quarter, in line with prior-year results,” continued Kelly. “Overall, wireless sales efforts continued to focus primarily on our core market segments of Healthcare, Government and Large Enterprise, which represented approximately 94.3 percent of our direct subscriber base and 91.1 percent of our direct paging revenue at year end. Healthcare comprised 79.7 percent of our direct subscriber base, and continued to be our best performing market segment with the highest rate of gross placements and lowest rate of unit disconnects.”
Spok returned capital to stockholders, totaling $28.3 million, in 2015. During the year, the Company paid $13.3 million in dividends and repurchased 897,177 shares of common stock, totaling $15.0 million, under its stock buy-back program. “Over the past decade,” Kelly added, “we have generated nearly $1 billion in free cash flow, paid nearly $500 million to our stockholders in cash dividends, and repurchased nearly $80 million of our common stock. In 2016, we remain focused on returning value to our shareholders through our comprehensive capital allocation strategy.”
Kelly noted that in addition to the financial performance the Company was able to achieve in 2015, progress was made in several other areas, including product development, sales strategy and key strategic partnership agreements. “Spok continues to build an industry-leading reputation,” commented Kelly. “We are generating tremendous attention and high approval ratings at the conferences we attend. Last year’s Connect Conference was the most successful ever, with record attendance, and the RSNA Conference was a great venue to showcase our CTRM solution and secure text messaging platform. We intend to carry the momentum generated at these conferences into 2016 in order to stimulate long-term growth. We remain committed to our core values of putting the customer first, creating solutions that matter, innovation and accountability. Combined with our strong team, solid financial platform and industry-leading products and services, Spok is well positioned to meet the challenges in 2016 and generate future growth.”
Shawn E. Endsley, chief financial officer, said: “Revenue contribution from both software and wireless, combined with focused expense management, helped maintain solid operating cash flow, EBITDA and operating margins for the quarter, as we continued to invest in our business for long-term growth. We also strengthened our balance sheet, recording a cash balance of $111.3 million at December 31, 2015 and continued to operate as a debt-free company at year end.”
Commenting on the Company’s previously provided financial guidance for 2015, Endsley noted: “We are pleased that 2015 results were consistent with our guidance. For the year, total revenue of $189.6 million was within our guidance range of $183 million to $201 million, operating expenses of $150.6 million were within our guidance range of $145 million to $154 million, and capital expenses of $6.4 million were within our guidance range of $5.5 million to $7.5 million.” With regard to financial guidance for 2016, Endsley said the Company expects total revenue to range from $174 million to $192 million, operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) to range from $153 million to $159 million, and capital expenses to range from $6 million to $8 million.
Spok plans to host a conference call for investors on its fourth quarter and 2015 operating results at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Dial-in numbers for the call are 785-830-1924 or 800-533-7954. The pass code for the call is 974643. A replay of the call will be available from 1:00 p.m. ET on February 25, 2016 until 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, 2016. Replay numbers are 719-457-0820 or 888-203-1112. The pass code for the replay is 974643.
Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act: Statements contained herein or in prior press releases which are not historical fact, such as statements regarding Spok’s future operating and financial performance, are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause Spok’s actual results to be materially different from the future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expectations include, but are not limited to, declining demand for paging products and services, continued demand for our software products and services, our ability to develop additional software solutions for our customers and manage our development as a global organization, the ability to manage operating expenses, future capital needs, competitive pricing pressures, competition from both traditional paging services and other wireless communications services, competition from other software providers, government regulation, reliance upon third-party providers for certain equipment and services, as well as other risks described from time to time in our periodic reports and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although Spok believes the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. Spok disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
[Financial Tables follow at the source.]
|Friends & Colleagues|
Wireless Network Planners
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
I just read the HIMSS Analytics Report, “The Hidden Cost of Pagers” and am concerned that your organization (even in a commissioned report) completely missed the technical and practical realities of critical communications infrastructure. Time and again, pager networks (RF) have been proven to be the ONLY reliable means of critical communication in wide-area or regional emergencies.
We agree with the numerous productivity benefits that smartphones have within healthcare. However, your report gave the strong impression that pagers are obsolete and being replaced universally. However, nothing could be further from the truth. While Cell and WiFi networks are designed to manage both content and communications, pager networks are dedicated solely for critical messaging.
Your report made a false equivalent comparing smartphone features to a pager. Popular culture might suggest that the pager is silly and outdated. However, it is important not to confuse the recognized form factor of the pager itself with the real benefits of the underlying RF infrastructure.
For example, during the Boston Marathon bombing, it is widely documented how cellular networks either failed or were very inconsistent due to the sheer volume of communications on those networks (in the form of phone calls and messaging). Equally documented within the public domain is how hospitals and other public safety agencies were able to coordinate their activities, call in their medical personnel and appropriately react to changes on the ground largely due to the dedicated RF network.
Another important factor missed by your research is that many doctors must be reachable for emergencies 24/7, where minutes can make the difference between life and death. For these types of critical communications, smartphones just don’t provide the reliability or instant delivery that pagers do because they rely on the cellular networks, which are susceptible to outages and performance fluctuations.
Finally, the research suggested that hospitals are wasting resources on paging infrastructure and that they are slow to adapt to new technologies, presumably because they continue to use pagers. In our opinion, this, too, is wholly inaccurate. Our experience shows that many of our nation’s hospitals are at the forefront of technological adoption, just not at the expense of patient safety and care coordination.
In conclusion, pagers remain the single best way to reliably and quickly reach emergency personnel in health care and the public safety sectors because the underlying technology is simple, reliable and dedicated solely for critical messaging.
Our team will be at HIMSS next week (booth #446). If you would like to learn more about pager and RF networks and why hospitals continue to use them, we would love to speak with you.
Anonymous Comments on the FBI—Apple Encryption Issue
I can understand their reluctance to open Pandora’s Box. But it would be acceptable to me if they took it into their lab, delivered the requested info and moved on.
Seems to me that they could also just defeat the “10 strikes” counter and let the FBI enter numbers until they hit the right one.
Hard to judge unless you had a better view of all the elements at play.
I would like to be somewhat neutral in the government's demand to force Apple (and others soon) to provide “backdoor keys” to unlock secure encryption, but I think the links below should raise alarms as to just how far the government will go, or has gone, to gain access to information often without higher review or authority.
While on the subject of NSA snooping, I predicted once NSA gained access to volumes of mined data for U.S. citizens such information would be shared for purposes unrelated to terrorism and national security. IRS, for example, could use this information to investigate tax related issues ... guess what ... they did!
What do you think?
Good morning Brad,
The TigerText sales tactic has been to disparage pagers because it’s an easy target and the closest cost replacement for their app. However they don’t understand nor are they interested in learning how the pagers are and have been embedded in numerous workflows for many years and is difficult to unwind. No one disputes that people WANT to get rid of pagers but the fact is they CAN'T get rid of pagers for some of the reasons the doctor in the article below articulated.
I posted on the American Messaging Facebook page recently. It is written by a doc that illustrates the love/hate relationship with her pager.
I hope this helps,
|UNTIL NEXT WEEK|
|THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK|
Some Local Color From Wayne County, Illinois
Song That Tells of Carl Shelton Killing Recorded for Juke Boxes
A ballad telling about the killing of Carl Shelton, southern Illinois gangster, has been composed by his brother, Earl, and Fred Henson, a radio entertainer, and recorded for the Juke box trade.
The recording, made by a St. Louis firm, is expected to go on sale in several weeks and the composers hope it will win a place in the annals of minstrelsy beside “Casey Jones,” “The Martins and the Coys” and “Frankie and Johnnie.”
A home recording of the song was played in a restaurant in Fairfield, Ill., home of Henson and the Sheltons, where it won wide popularity, prompting the composers to put it on the market. The subject was ambushed last Oct. 23 near his home. The ballad:
Henson sings the verses to his own guitar accompaniment.
[October 23, 1947]
|PHOTO OF THE WEEK|
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