Posted April 27th, 2011 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 28th, 2011, is the first annual International Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Day. Girls in ICT Day is an international initiative launched with the idea of creating a global environment that will empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technologies. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has called upon all ITU member countries to celebrate International Girls in ICT Day on the fourth Thursday in the month of April.
Also tomorrow, the FCC is holding its Career Day at the Commission, where we invite employees to bring their children to work with them and experience a day in the life of an FCC employee. In connection with both FCC Career Day and International Girls in ICT Day, I encourage all of our ICT stakeholders to open their doors tomorrow in recognition of this important initiative for young women.Posted in
Posted March 10th, 2011 by Meredith Attwell Baker
A few months ago in this space I started a list of the new vocabulary in the telecommunications field that we all need to know. A couple of words to add are ‘megabyte’ or “MB’ and ‘gigabyte’ or ‘GB.’ Smartphones and tablets now offer consumers HD-quality video and games, with streaming music, and lightning-fast downloads of web-content, file attachments and photos. Many of us first encountered GB in deciding which smartphone or tablet to buy in the first place. Do I need an 8 GB or 16 GB iPhone? How many songs and apps do these phones hold?
Carriers are rolling out new offerings that set limits on data usage like 200 MB or 2 GB a month. This just reinforces we all need to understand what these terms means. Knowing which plan is right for you depends in large part on understanding your device and your personal data usage – really knowing just how many megabytes your daily email messages and Tweets take up. Few of us can intuitively gauge these sorts of things. And even if we could keep track of how many TV shows we download, and how many emails we send and receive on a daily basis, virtually none of us could estimate with any degree of certainty how many megabytes or gigabytes that constituted per month.
I am happy to report that wireless carriers are stepping up and providing consumer-friendly tools to help consumers pick the plan that best fits their usage patterns. Each company has its own tools and approach, and I applaud these important and necessary efforts to educate consumers about a new and confusing space.
Let’s take a look at one of them to show you what I mean. This post could be about any number of carriers, but let’s look at T-Mobile’s website, which I think is a great example. T-Mobile allows consumers (even if not current subscribers) to estimate their monthly web usage with an amazing interactive feature.
Users move the sliders to correspond to, for instance, how many emails they send/receive per day, how many minutes of streaming video they watch, and how many web pages they view daily. T-Mobile then calculates their predicted monthly usage, allowing consumers to pick the data plan that best fits their needs and avoids overage charges.
This easy-to-use interface is a great educational tool that helps demystify what can be a complex issue. It teaches us that a minute of streaming video is about 3 MB compared to 1 MB for a minute of streaming music. Allowing users to see their usage in understandable increments offers consumers a meaningful way to appreciate how much data they use monthly. Carriers are also rolling out apps to track usage in real-time. So, carriers keep up the good work, and make sure consumers get the education they need and the tools they need to navigate next-generation wireless services.Posted in Policy
Posted December 14th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Posted November 29th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Posted November 17th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Posted November 12th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Posted November 2nd, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Posted September 13th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
The recent observation of the ninth anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is an appropriate time to assess our progress towards providing a national, interoperable broadband network for public safety. Those tragic events demonstrated that our first responders and other public safety officials must have access to state-of-the-art interoperable communications networks. While our collective efforts to date earn an unfortunate incomplete grade, I am optimistic that recent technological and regulatory developments offer the promise of a breakthrough.
Posted August 17th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Hot Sun, Cowboy Boots…and lots of Free WiFi
Posted August 5th, 2010 by Meredith Attwell Baker
Yesterday I visited the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum (EARS) workshop in Arlington, Virginia. The EARS program was recently established by the NSF to bring together a diverse group of spectrum experts from across the country to leverage synergies to accelerate development of advanced technologies, including cognitive radios, nanotechnologies and advanced air interfaces, that can help address our nation’s spectrum needs. A particular priority is basic research. This is a terrific project that warrants greater attention, focus, and hopefully funding.