FCC Has a New Chairman and a Full Complement of Commissioners

    Halloween is behind us, the weather is definitely autumnal and the bickering—if not outright hostility—in Washington, D.C., continues. All is as it should be on November 1.

    This week produced, as usual, a tremendous amount of news and insightful commentary.

    The Smartphone March Continues

    IDC and Juniper Research released their smartphone numbers for the third quarter, which ended on the last day of September.

    IDC found that total shipments for the quarter rose 38.8 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. The actual numbers were 186.2 million to 258.4 million units. Samsung’s market share rose a bit, from 31 percent to 31.4 percent. Second banana Apple was down and Huawei, Lenovo and LG all were up.

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    Report Shows Mobile Devices Drive Quarterly Growth; Bing Continues to Gain Market Share

    Juniper found that total shipments exceeded 250 million, though the press release was not specific. Samsung, the firm said, shipped about 85 million devices and controlled 34 percent of the market. Apple sold 33.8 million devices, a 26 percent increase over the year-ago quarter.

    The FCC Gets Up to Speed

    One thing that people from all political persuasions agree on is that nothing is easy in Washington, D.C. That includes staffing the Federal Communications Commission, which had been down two of its full complement of five commissioners.

    A deal had been in place under which Tom Wheeler would be named chairman and republican Michael O’Reilly would be named to replace Robert McDowell. However, Texas Representative Ted Cruz had placed a hold on Wheeler. Cruz released the hold early in the week, and the Senate promptly confirmed Wheeler. O’Reilly also was confirmed.

    Much is unknown about how Wheeler, who has been a telecom executive and lobbyist, will proceed, according to TVNewsCheck:

    At deadline, Wheeler had yet to announce any FCC staffing positions for his new administration. But telecom industry players who have been playing key behind-the-scenes roles in Wheeler’s transition team — and who could be assigned to important positions in the Wheeler FCC — include Diane Cornell, vice president of government affairs for mobile satellite giant Inmarsat; Phil Verveer, a former State Department executive, and Ruth Milkman, chief of the FCC’s Wireless Bureau, sources said.

    SMBs and Slow Long Refresh Cycles

    Older human bodies, older automobiles, older gas grills and, yes, older PCs tend to break down more. Heather Clancy takes a look at a couple of studies, one from Intel and one from Microsoft, that deal with the ramifications of this reality:

    First, let’s consider the Intel research (conducted by Techaisle), which suggests that small-business workers could be losing up to one work week per year because of old personal computers. Specifically, if a PC is four years or older, employees lose 21 hours on repairs, maintenance and security fixes, according to the Intel Small Business PC Refresh Study. The survey covered 736 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russia and the United States.

    When and how fully to transition organizations from PCs to tablets and other newer style devices should be thought through carefully. However, it is a variable in the overall equipment equation that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. The approach will influence the organization’s approach to bring your own device (BYOD) as well as corporate buying decisions.

    Small Cells Present a Diverse Ecosystem

    Don’t let the name “small” in small cell technology fool you. It is a big sector, with big potential. It also features a number of technology variants, each with its own set of pros and cons.

    ABI Research pegs small cell business to be worth more than $5 billion and projects that it enjoys a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48 percent, though the press release doesn’t specify the time frame of the estimation.

    The market is segmented into sub 6MHz, microwave, V-band, e-band, TV white space and satellite. The release said that there is “fierce competition for market share, with high levels of innovation being applied for competitive advantage.”

    In-Flight Electronic Rules Relaxed

    And, finally, comes a story about what may lead to a day that many of us don’t want to see. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, approved the expansion of portable device use during all phases of commercial flights. The expansion is summed up in the FAA’s press release:

    Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled—i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

    The funny thing is that the acronym the FAA uses is portable electronic devices (PEDs) which, of course, is the same as the one used for performance enhancing drugs. Thus, the FAA is saying that it is okay for professional athletes to use PEDs during flights. Somebody should check with Bud Selig on that.

    The day that could be coming is when it is okay to use portable devices for voice calls. That raises the possibility that travelers will soon be subject to one end of conversations between gabbing teenager and arguing spouses during coast-to-coast flight.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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