Capitol Hill Spotlight On Verizon

Speaking to an audience of congressional staffers this week on in Washington, DC; Verizon Chief Technology Officer, Tony Melone, said his company is thankful for recently passed legislation paving the way for  broadcast spectrum auctions sometime in the next few years. The auctions are designed to alleviate the current mobile spectrum crunch, by reallocating spectrum currently licensed to TV broadcasters for use by the mobile industry.

What Verizon is concentrating on right now though, he says,  is how to make the most of the spectrum they already have. Strategies include improved spectrum processing with faster and more efficient silicon chips, heterogeneous networks that allow small and large cell towers to operate close to one another without signal interference by stacking signals in a layer-cake pattern, and longer lasting mobile device batteries that help consumers get the most out of Verizon’s super-fast 4G LTE connections.

4G LTE connections allow consumers to download applications such as video, music, and games at speeds similar to wired connections, and much faster than standard 3G connections. So far, Melone says, Verizon’s 4G LTE network is accessible to about 200 million Americans, and should cover the entire area now covered by their 3G network within the next 18 months.

Other changes on the horizon include rolling out mobile wallet technology that will allow consumers to use their phones to make purchases, and expansion of Verizon’s wired FIOS network into rural areas where that type of high-speed connection is currently not available.

Melone also responded to questions about cyber security, which was a hot topic as the result of a House Committee hearing earlier in the day (see related post), and the FBI’s arrest of 16 suspects in various locations throughout the US who are alleged to be part of the “Anonymous” hacker organization.

“Our job is to mitigate risk”, Melone says, noting that one way to do that is to work with suppliers to ensure that devices meet guidelines before being allowed to run on their network.

The Obama administration sounded a security alarm last summer, when it was revealed that in countries such as China; malware was actually being built into device hardware, making it nearly impossible to detect.

While vulnerability to threats can be managed by monitoring, Melone says, it’s an area in which you can “never feel completely comfortable”.

Like other mobile and Internet security experts who have been testifying before Congress recently, Melone says there is a need to “share information as broadly as possible with the Federal government” so cyber threats can be more easily discovered and blocked. How that information sharing will actually occur though, is unknown because of laws that currently hinder a free exchange of such information.

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