General and Policy and social media and Social Networking and strategychris on 27 Apr 2010 09:20 am

Cecilia Kang’s recent front page story in the Washington Post discussing efforts by those in the telecom / tech space to use social media to affect policy generated a lot of buzz over the weekend.  Although I’m no longer in the trenches fighting those battles, I’ve been one of the early advocates for using social media in the public policy arena (this blog started in 2006).  Accordingly, I have a few thoughts on the article.

Ms. Kang begins the article stating – “Why pay for a golf trip, dinner, or full-page ad when you can tweet for free”?  It is a good question and is core to the overall conversation.  However, citizen lobbying isn’t on equal footing yet.  Fundraisers that provide the golf and dinner opportunities provide access to policymakers that are not quite analogous to twittering.  If this was true, as highlighted in her Post Tech column, some companies wouldn’t be spending nearly $6 million (last quarter) in lobbying.  Don’t get me wrong, utilizing social media is allowing citizen lobbyists to close the gap on the traditional influence game.  However, we are not quite there yet.  Continue Reading »

CTIA and Policy and Spectrumchris on 23 Mar 2010 01:24 pm

As always, it is great being in Las Vegas for another CTIA show.  This industry is happening and I’m really excited to learn more about some of the new gadgets and products on the horizon.  With that in mind, I thought I’d hear more about the evolving nature of this industry and it is this evolution that makes it quite exciting.  However, the major message coming out of CTIA, in my opinion, is much more policy focused than usual — “We need more spectrum.”

Ralph de la Vega (CEO, AT&T Mobility) kicked off the start of the show with a snapshot of where the industry is and what will be needed (more spectrum).  Mr. de la Vega highlighted the fact that the United States leads the world in 3G subscribers.  It is estimated that the U.S. has 117 Million 3G subscribers with Japan (101M) and South Korea trailing (40M).  With subscribers in mind, Mr. de la Vega discussed how much the industry is spending and plans to spend on wireless infrastructure.  Specifically, he projected that the industry will spend $22-$23 Billion in 2010.

After providing this snapshot of the industry , he addressed the critical question of whether or not the industry can handle the growing appetite for mobile broadband.  Accordingly, he offered up a blue print for taking on this issue.

(1)  “increasing available spectrum” – This point has been hammered everywhere.  On that note, the FCC recently called for 500 MHz to be available for wireless broadband over the decade and that 300 MHz be available within the next 5 years.

(2) “accelerating network efficiency” – In this instance, Mr. de la Vega discussed LTE and the network efficiencies that can be derived from that technology – it is about 2.5X more efficient that HSPA.

(3) “capitalizing on Wi-Fi and Femto” – I don’t have too much to add on this point.  Offloading traffic is an important part of the solution.  I’ve always been a big fan of Wi-Fi.

(4)  “ensuring application efficiency” – This is a point that is starting to be repeated more often and it is a good thing.  Developers need to be cognizant of the amount of bandwidth a particular application is going to have on the network.

Spectrum is the lifeblood of this industry and we need more capacity to keep the momentum going in this space.  The FCC’s efforts in the National Broadband Plan is a great start.  However, there needs to be more talk about spectral efficiency as we get ready for the long battle ahead to free up more capacity.

General and Policy and Spectrumchris on 17 Mar 2010 09:04 am

I’m still chewing on the National Broadband Plan that was released yesterday by the FCC.  It is quite large and I’m focusing on the spectrum roadmap set by the Commission.

In any case, Congress is going to review the plan next week.  With regard to the Senate, they will hold a Full Committee Hearing on Tuesday, March 23.  The House will hold a Subcommittee Hearing on Thursday, March 25.


General and Policy and social media and Social Networking and SprintNextel and strategy and Verizon Wirelesschris on 13 Nov 2009 02:06 pm

Are you a leader or a poser?  There’s a big difference.

Free Press is a leader in the interactive universe.  They cultivate and organically grow their communities.  By utilizing digital tools early and often, the Free Press team has built a machine that can deliver results.  Last year, they took on Comcast, leading an effort to urge the FCC to rebuke Comcast for its network management practices.  They won.

Early this year, Free Press began beating the drum for the FCC to stay the course and open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on open internet regulations in the wireline and wireless spaces.  This effort mobilized thousands of letters, blogs and tweets on the topic.  Once again, they won.

Free Press has become a juggernaut in the District of Communications.  Although, I don’t always agree with all of their public policy positions – I love the strategies they use to raise public awareness and influence policymaking. Continue Reading »

General and Guest Chef and Policy and Privacychris on 02 Feb 2009 08:37 am

It was only a matter of time, of course, until privacy concerns would migrate to the wireless world.  As the popularity of handsets such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry Storm soars, and with it consumers’ appetite for mobile content and video, mobile marketing firms have found a new, deep vein of advertising potential — more targeted and personalized than ever.  Not only can online marketers now reach consumers on the go, technology can now reveal where mobile consumers are located at any time – inspired in part by the FCC’s E-911 mandate a decade ago that wireless carriers provide emergency 911 dispatchers with callers’ locations.  Add to this innovative mix the capability of tracking users’ online activity, and you have the makings of a powerful new way to reach and satisfy the tastes of mobile consumers – that is, assuming they don’t mind.

It should come then as no surprise that privacy advocates would soon train their sights on the wireless market and the mobile advertisers.  Recently, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) filed petitions with the FTC, urging regulators to investigate mobile advertisers and even consider new rules to protect the privacy of wireless consumers.  The petition cites a raft of new innovative tools – including location-based targeting, user tracking analytics and data mining – now employed by mobile advertisers as threats to consumer privacy.  Mobile Marketers like Admob, Bango, and Marchex, argues CDD and PIRG, collect information from mobile users without sufficient notice.  Continue Reading »

General and Policychris on 08 Jan 2009 04:01 pm

A bunch of my wireless and tech friends are out at CES in Las Vegas this week.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the trip this year.  However, as many companies go “all in” at CES to show off their new gadgets — the Technology CEO Council has doubled down on their efforts to influence policymakers in DC.

The Technology CEO Council was founded in 1989 and is a CEO policy advocacy coalition that is focused on ensuring U.S. competitiveness through technology leadership.  With the Obama Administration promising to make broadband deployment a key piece of their larger tech agenda, the Council has announced the addition of Jonathan Hoganson as Deputy Executive Director.  He joins Bruce Mehlman who is the Executive Director.

Prior to joining the Council, Jonathan was on Capitol Hill where he spent 5 years serving former Congressman Rahm Emanuel.  In that capacity, he served as his Legislative Director and Policy Director of the House Democratic Caucus.  Most recently, he served at the Information Technology Industry Council, where he was Director of Government Relations.

Jonathan and Bruce are a dynamic duo.  They both know how the machine works and they know how to get things done in DC.  Accordingly, we wish Jonathan all the best in his new position.

Additional note – In addition to the Tech CEO Council, Jonathan and Bruce will continue in their roles at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti.

Apple and Broadband and General and Policychris on 30 Nov 2008 10:30 am

I recently wrote about the Broadband Opportunity in America and one of my major points was urging policymakers to take a new approach in tackling the Broadband challenge.  Specifically, focusing on the demand side of the problem.

Over the years, in telecom policy discussions, we have always discussed how wireless could be a major factor in enabling folks to reach the web.  When I was at AT&T Wireless, I was proud of our relationship with NTT DoCoMo and had faith that we could replicate much of their success in 3G.  It has taken a few years but the industry has arrived.  Wireless can now offer a reliable link to the internet with devices that consumers demand.

A recent article in PC World highlighted research that showed low-income users were the fastest growing segment of new iPhone users.  The study found that users with income levels of $25,000-$50,000 represented the largest demographic of consumers for the month of August. Continue Reading »

Broadband and General and Policychris on 03 Nov 2008 12:56 pm

(Flickr Photo Credit – danesparza)

With regard to telecommunications policy and broadband, the last few years in Washington has been more noise than signal. Hearing after hearing brings lots of whining about broadband – but no solutions. A few academics have gone to the Hill and claimed there is no competition and a few lawmakers like to point out our worldwide rank (15th) in broadband. These same individuals will also point the finger at service providers for a lack of broadband in America.


This is a change election. Every candidate – even folks who have been in office for years – are running on change. Accordingly, I hope that a new administration will bring a new approach to the broadband opportunity in America.

No more pointing the finger. No more lack of accountability. This issue is not conservative or liberal. It is a people issue.

In any case, here are some thoughts to get the ball rolling in the right direction on an issue that is extremely important to our future. Continue Reading »

General and Policychris on 27 Oct 2008 09:09 am

(Flickr Photo Credit – Valli_Hilaire)

The government loves to spend our money.  Bridges to Nowhere and now a $350,000 NASCAR sponsorship…  I’m not kidding.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has decided to spend $350K on 3 NASCAR races to get the word out on the DTV transition.  David Gilliland will be our driver and the Number 38 car’s hood will display: “Are you ready for digital?”

For this reckless spend, Citizens Against Government Waste has awarded Chairman Martin the Porker of the Month.  Not to mention our car crashed and burned on its first race!

Here’s hoping we get some better finishes in Phoenix (November 9) or Miami (November 16)

General and Policy and Politics and social media and Social Networking and strategychris on 08 Sep 2008 10:14 am

With the U.S. Open Men’s Final all set for tonight, I’m feeling a little nostalgic.

I’m remembering Andre Agassi and those Canon commercials — “Image is Everything” he would proclaim… Andre was so right!

In the district of communications, your image has a lot to do with how successful you are with your policy initiatives. One industry that has suffered from bad perception in the marketplace is the cable industry. However, the cable folks are not following the traditional playbook and trying to hire more lobbyists. They are looking to improve their image engaging bloggers and the citizenry.

In a Communications Daily story today (subscription only), Rob Stoddard (NCTA, Senior VP of communications and public affairs) stated:

“the cable industry needs to do a better job of improving its image with bloggers and customers alike. As we chip away at that image issue, I really believe that all this money we spend on messaging will go further.”

Policy and politics are all about marketing. Accordingly, in times like these, making sure you are a step ahead of the competition is critical. Companies that blend an interactive strategy with their traditional communications will be rewarded in the market and in DC.

General and Google and Policy and Spectrumchris on 20 May 2008 09:54 am

As diners know, this is the district of communications and wireless is always a hot dish in this city.

On that note, Larry Page will be coming to town and discussing GooG’s vision for expanding broadband access across America with Michael Calabrese (New America Foundation). Mr. Page will also delve into spectrum policy too.

You can register here

Broadband and General and Policy and Spectrumchris on 13 May 2008 10:16 am

I’ve been digesting the latest from policymakers and regulators the last few weeks. Overall, lots of good conversations about the wireless industry and thoughts about what is on the horizon. These are exciting times…

This new world of communications isn’t built around voice and text-messaging. It is a world built on innovations – many from startups and small companies – that can thrive on next generation wireless networks. A world where we know where our friends are at all times and a world where we can shoot mobile video – anytime and anywhere. It is our world and we are driving this revolution.

Carriers are currently evolving their traditional networks and building for this broadband revolution. A revolution where not just a few participate but one where we all are active. This revolution will allow everyone the ability to browse, search and share on their wireless device…

Unfortunately, there is a little bit of noise and static from a few folks in Washington. These folks believe they know what we want to do with our wireless devices – when most of them are still stuck in analog. These folks want to take us back to the antiquated world of spectrum caps. These are the folks who are not happy with the results of the 700 MHz auction and have an appetite to micro-manage a sector that doesn’t need it…

How many times do we have to go down this road? Spectrum caps only hurt consumers. Continue Reading »

CTIA and General and Policy and social media and strategy and VON 2007Ashley on 29 Apr 2008 03:54 pm

Sadly, this is going to be my last post here at the Diner. I will be leaving my firm at the end of the week to go to the Hill, where I will be a legislative assistant for a Philadelphia member, and while I’ll always be a co-founder of the Diner, I’ll no longer be a contributor here.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about some things that have been on my mind and leave you with some parting thoughts. I apologize in advance, but this is going to be an all-you-can-eat buffet, so loosen your belts…

First off- thanks!

I really want to take a minute and thank Chris for inviting me to help him in this venture. About two years ago, when Chris asked me if I wanted to help him out in starting a blog about wireless, I said, “But Chris, you’re the wireless guru, who’s gonna care what I have to say?” Well, Chris picked up his cell phone, held it up, and said, “Do you have one of these? That’s what I thought. You know plenty about wireless.” He believed in me, and I hope that I’ve helped him build the blog and develop a community that’s passionate about wireless like he wanted to! That brings me to my second point…

People in new media are AWESOME!

I suppose that if you are compelled to blog, you have an inherent interest in sharing your knowledge and in learning what other folks have to say. Well, I learned that to be the case pretty quickly working in the Diner. When Chris and I were first starting out, we were inundated with tips and suggestions from fellow bloggers. From Steve Garfield, who showed us how to use our new video camera, to Chris Brogan, who was willing to be our first interviewee, to Jeff Pulver who invited me to blog at VON 07 in San Jose, to Jonny Goldstein and the DC Media Makers for introducing us to folks and letting us get in on some live broadcasting, and to the people at CTIA who asked me to lend a hand when they were first getting into the blogosphere, everyone who does this wants to help others do it too, and I’d just like to say thank you. It’s the inclusiveness of these on-line communities that makes them so profound! Continue Reading »

General and Policy and Politics and strategychris on 07 Apr 2008 04:39 pm


(flickr photo credit – Philofoto)

In poker, knowing when to hold or fold is crucial.

In fact, Kenny Rogers did a tune (“the Gambler”) that captured it beautifully (you all know it.). However, if knowing when to hold or fold was obvious, Seth Godin wouldn’t have sold a bunch of books related to the topic (“the dip”).

In policy and politics, knowing when to hold or fold is critical too. There are folks that operate in the district of communications who should pick up a copy of Mr. Godin’s book. It could serve as a guide to one campaign in order to help their Party regain the White House. It could also be insightful for some tech companies to move forward on other issues that are more important for generating future revenues.

Going for broke and praying to draw out on your flush (win remaining primaries or hoping to use portable devices in white space spectrum before completion of the DTV transition) may make sense in the short term. Although the long-term damage to your wallet, the Party or your credibility may not be worth that gamble…

Disclosure – Tin Can Communications represents Capitol Solutions (on behalf of the Wireless Broadband Coalition) on federal spectrum issues.

Apple and General and Policy and Verizon Wirelesschris on 23 Jan 2008 07:39 am


Walter Mossberg talking about his iPhone and the Soviet Ministries (in his opinion, the wireless carriers).

As many diners know, I attended a panel discussion on whether the wireless industry needs more regulation in order to spur industry innovation. The panel discussion was sponsored by New America and featured many speakers offering various perspectives on the topic. I was interested to hear Walter Mossberg’s (Wall Street Journal) comments since he wrote – “free my phone” and considering the industry’s move towards openness… Overall, not a great deal of new ground covered.

Mossberg continued to hammer the wireless industry on everything from control to carrier service quality. He stated that “the FCC has spent too much time on HDTV and less time on broadband.” Mossberg is interested in watching the carriers implement the open model into their existing business. Specifically, he’ll be watching (1) certification requirements and (2) pricing on these open networks. The concern is that the certification could be long and the pricing could be a deterrent from adopting the open access network plan. Continue Reading »

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