A study commissioned by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) in 2010 found that one out of every six American's have experienced "bill shock" at one point or another. About a third said they received bills that were $50 higher than they expected, and nearly a quarter said it was by more than a hundred bucks. The FCC, along with the CTIA and Consumers Union, will try to make bill shock a thing of a past by implementing industry wide changes designed to keep wireless users better informed.
The impact of long term exposure to cellphone radiation is still largely unknown, but all the evidence up until now lends credence to the fact that you probably have better things to worry about. San Francisco lawmakers disagree however, and a controversial new law that forced retailers to display radiation levels of different handsets has the CTIA pulling them into court. “The CTIA's objection to the ordinance is that displaying a phone's SAR value at the point-of-sale suggests to the consumer that there is a meaningful safety distinction between FCC-compliant devices with different SAR levels," it said in a statement.
According to CTIA officials the new law supersedes the FCC’s authority to regulate radio emissions, and is misleading for consumers who ultimately haven’t been properly educated as to what the SAR ratings actually mean. Some have been tempted to lump cellphone manufacturers in with the tobacco industry who lied to customers for years about the dangers of smoking, but this is a bit misleading as well. Independent labs have backed up the fact that cellphone radiation levels as they are mandated today are considered safe and in some cases might even be beneficial.
Only time will tell if the law will hold up in court, but at the end of the day perhaps it will encourage manufactures to voluntarily lower radiation levels. Studies show it probably won’t help, but it certainly can’t hurt.
San Francisco is well known for being a progressive city, often leading the way in environmental and humanist issues, and historically unafraid of making waves. However, in the instance of the recently signed cell phone radiation law, the SF Board of Supervisors are being reminded that sometimes it’s best to not rock the boat – especially when you’re the one sitting in it.
Late last month the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to pass a bill, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, which would require cell phone retailers to post the radiation absorption levels emitted by cell phone handsets. While cell phone manufacturers such as Apple and Verizon, and telecom giants AT&T, TechAmerica and CTIA, have successfully lobbied against similar bills in both California and Maine earlier this year, they were apparently unable to sway the city by the bay. Their response was to promptly pack up their toys (i.e. the annual CTIA convention) and go home, saying “We felt they sent us a message about how they felt about the industry and the technology. And if that’s how the city feels, then we have to look at other viable options.” They’re also encouraging other companies (Apple and Cisco have both been name-dropped) to join them in a boycott. As the CTIA convention has brought “more than 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and $80 million” to the city’s coffers, this may prove to be a not only a costly reminder to San Francisco law-makers –but also an unfortunate blowback to the tech-savvy residents of the city.
As Engadget puts it, the Windows Mobile news coming out of this week's CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show can be summed up in two words: "pretty" and "support" (for the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system).
Want a phone where "pretty" is more than case-deep? Designer Isaac Mizrahi, Design Museum London, and the Council of Fashion Designers are teaming up with Redmond to create fashionable wallpapers for the 6.5 version of Windows Mobile. On the support side, Microsoft announced support from over 25 companies for its Windows Mobile Marketplace (Word 2003 DOC link).
For more about what Redmond put on display, join us after the jump.