Last year, the Mexican government passed a law mandating all pre-paid, anonymous mobile phone users submit their personal information to their wireless provider(s) and have their cellular line linked with their name and personal information. The law is aimed at curbing what Mexican officials are calling “mobile extortion.” Ransom demands from organized crime and drug cartel kidnappings are often made via anonymous, pre-paid cellular phones, and it is the preferred method of communication for “common criminals” in Mexico. The majority of Mexico’s estimated 84 million mobile phones are pre-paid, and with the weekend deadline for compliance looming, over 30 million pre-paid users have failed to submit their information in accordance with the new law. Mexican telcom companies were denied a request to extend the deadline for compliance by the country’s senate. The anonymous lines that are not in compliance by this weekend are supposed to be shut off by the wireless service provider the line is associate with. Critics of the law say that criminals will simply register the phones with fake or other people’s credentials, and that denying the Mexican people access to cellular phones is a violation of people’s constitutional rights under Mexican law. Telcom company America Movîl is predicting losses of around $10 million a day if the 30 million unregistered lines are indeed shut down. What do you think? For the greater good, or a violation of the rights and privacy of the Mexican people? More →
The House of Representatives defeated the digital TV delay bill with a 258-168 vote that failed to secure the two thirds needed for passage. The vote closely followed party lines with 155 Republicans voting against the bill and 22 Republicans voting for it. Amongst House Democrats, 236 voted for the bill and a mere 13 voted against it. The defeat signaled a win for House republicans who have opposed the delay, claiming the four month delay would further confuse consumers, cause an unnecessary delay for companies and public safety agencies waiting for the spectrum to be released and burden TV companies with the additional cost of broadcasting both analog and digital signals during the four month delay. The defeat is a setback for the Obama administration and congressional democrats who believe that the current resources to assist people in the digital TV transition are in a state of disarray and are concerned that the public, particularly poor, rural and low-income Americans, will not be adequately prepared when the analog air waves are turned off on February 17th. The Obama administration and congressional democrats still claim to be exploring all options to secure another vote on this issue.
First it was the White House that voiced its opposition earlier this week to the FCC’s plan for free wireless broadband using the white space spectrum, now it is Congress’s turn to weigh in on the matter. In a letter to the FCC, the incoming chairmen for the Senate and House Commerce committees, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), urged the FCC to focus on the upcoming digital TV transition and to stay away from “complex and controversial items that the new Congress and new administration will have an interest in reviewing” during the FCC’s next and final meeting for 2008. The FCC responded by saying that it is reviewing the letter and will reach out to the other offices before making a final decision on the vote. This request for a delay is in direct opposition to the request made by M2Z networks, a potential licensee of this white space spectrum and one of the driving forces behind the free wireless broadband proposal, which claimed that “any further delay from the FCC on this matter would result in the violation of a self-imposed Congressional deadline and would constitute a violation of the Communications Act.” With increasing pressure from both sides and the December 18th meeting drawing closer, the FCC only has a few short days to render a decision. The only thing we can be sure of is that the decision, regardless of which way it falls, will surely generate yet another round of controversy.
Looks like the four major US cell phone providers have been caught with their proverbial hands in the consumers pocket. Recently, Sen. Herb Kohl, chair of the antitrust subcommittee, sent a letter to the four major US Carriers (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile) asking them to explain why text messaging rates have doubled over the past 3 years when the cost to send them has remained the same. Seems like the Senator also noticed that when one carrier raises costs, they all follow suit. Aren’t these carriers supposed to be competing against each other to lower rates and not working together to raise them? So far none of the carriers have not responded. Not surprising.