If You Can’t Innovate, Intimidate: Lobbying and LightSquared

Exactly what is wrong with the big business-Washington relationship:

Wireless startup LightSquared has laid off nearly half of its workforce and filed for bankruptcy, but isn’t parting with its extensive network of Washington lobbyists.

Philip Falcone and his investment firm, Harbinger Capital Partners, invested billions of dollars in LightSquared’s plan to build a high-speed wireless network that would have served more than 260 million people, but federal regulators denied it permission to launch in February over concerns that it would interfere with GPS devices…

Last quarter, at least 14 different firms lobbied for LightSquared, according to disclosure forms. The company spent more than $2.8 million on lobbying in 2011, according to records, roughly quadrupling 2010’s total of nearly $700,000.

LightSquared developed a technology that tends (in tests) to interfere with GPS.  Rather than fix it, why not just find friends in high places?

There is no right to success in business.

viaBankrupt wireless firm LightSquared cuts employees, but not lobbyists, by Brendan Sasso and Kevin Bogardus at Hillicon Valley.

911 Texting

Hillicon Valley reported that Verizon is developing a text to 911 feature.  Very cool.  Could be useful in situations where placing a voice call is impractical or dangerous.  Additionally, the article notes that:

It could be of particular use to deaf and hard of hearing consumers, who have been shown to be rapid adopters of smartphones for their text-messaging capabilities.

Great point.  It should roll out “during the early part of next year in select areas using its existing mobile network.”

It’s a Problem With Law, Not Technology

Early pioneers of cyberspace reveled in the anonymity and potential.  The feeling of “wild west” style lawlessness was a bit of a rush—all that space and no one to answer to.  That was then…

but this is now. If you are under any impression that things are still like that, check out some of the stories circulating lately on the FBI’s desire for a “wiretap ready” web.  Back in February, FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni complained that criminals no longer used the technologies that law enforcement could legally intercept.  As a result, it is easy for criminals to “go dark” and avoid the kind of surveillance in the analog world that is routinely used to catch criminals before the act.


Technical Fix to a Social Problem

Why is it that when your cellphone is stolen, someone can just register it with a new account and start using it? In order to get service, you have to provide a service provider with the electronic serial number of the phone. So, they already have massive databases of valid serial numbers. Why not just have an something in the database record that records that the phone has been reported as stolen? That way, it can’t be reactivated, rendering it useless to steal? Technically speaking, it’s a pretty easy thing. But it would be a great thing for cell phone owners.


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