TMT Round-up: Developments on Unlocked Phones; FTC Backs Do Not Track Standard Despite Ad Industry Objections; German Team Sets Wi-Fi Data Transmission World Record
NTIA petitions FCC for rule requiring unlocked phones
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is seeking new regulations that would require wireless carriers to unlock mobile phones, tablets and other devices upon the customer’s request.
The NTIA filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission in September, asking the FCC to immediately initiate a rulemaking that would shift the burden of unlocking mobile devices from consumers to wireless carriers. Unlocking a device allows the device to be used on the networks of other carriers, not just the network of the carrier from which it was purchased. Removing a lock on a mobile device would not affect the terms of the contract or the related penalties for termination between the consumer and the wireless carrier, according to an NTIA release.
FTC backs Do Not Track standard despite advertisers’ withdrawal from talks
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez remains hopeful that the industry can create a Do Not Track standard, despite news that advertisers withdrew from online tracking talks at the World Wide Web Consortium.
A Do Not Track standard could allow consumers to opt out of online tracking or exercise more control over how their online activities are recorded. The Digital Advertising Alliance withdrew from the W3C talks in September, saying it “no longer believes that the [W3C working group] is capable of fostering the development of a workable ‘do not track’ . . . solution.”
The DAA said it would work separately to consider options for enhancing consumer privacy, “rather than continuing to work in a forum that has failed.”
“[W]e intend to commit our resources and time in participating in efforts that can achieve results while enhancing the consumer digital experience,” DAA managing director Lou Mastria said in a letter to the W3C. “The DAA will immediately convene a process to evaluate how browser-based signals can be used to meaningfully address consumer privacy. . . . This DAA-led process will be a more practical use of our resources than to continue to participate at the W3C.
Although Ramirez said she was disappointed by the DAA’s departure, she noted that a Do Not Track standard still could be reached. “[M]y end goal on Do Not Track remains for consumers to have meaningful choices not to be tracked, whether that option emerges from within or outside the W3C,” Ramirez said in a statement.
German Team Sets Wi-Fi Data Transmission World Record
A team of scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) recently set the world record for wireless data transmission at 100 Gigabits per second. The team’s Wi-Fi network transmitted data at a frequency of 237.5 GHz over a 20-meter distance in controlled laboratory conditions.
While such high-frequency signals allow for intensive data transfers, the propagation characteristics of these signals do not allow for long-distance travel and are easily disrupted by obstacles (e.g., buildings, walls, etc.). At a rate of 100 Gbps, for example, you can transfer the contents of an entire Blu-ray disc in two seconds. The team of scientists at IAF and KIT set the previous Wi-Fi data transmission record at 40 Gbps, and that technology was tested by sending data signals between the peaks of skyscrapers. The team hopes that its new technology can be used in rural areas as “an inexpensive and flexible alternative to optical fiber networks, whose extension can often not be justified from an economic point of view.” The same technology could also be used to patch holes in existing fiber lines. One of the scientists also noted the use of multiplexing techniques (transmitting multiple streams) and multiple antennas could facilitate data rates of 1 terabit per second.