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Product safety panel urges earlier inspections

The flow of products imported into the U.S. each year is so vast that simply increasing inspections would not adequately improve safety. Instead, the government should do more to ensure products are safe before they reach the nation’s borders, an advisory commission to the president said Monday.

President Bush in July established a working group to study import safety. His executive order was in response to growing concerns about a spate of recalls from China that included toothpaste, dog food and toys.

In its first report to the president, the group said that the government should focus its efforts on prevention. That emphasis will require the federal government to work more closely with the private sector and to improve the sharing of information among federal agencies.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the U.S. now focuses on interdiction at the borders to stop unsafe products.

“A fundamental change in our strategy is being recommended,” Leavitt said.

San Francisco

Apple reportedly weighs bid for wireless spectrum

Apple Inc. may bid for the rights to a wireless spectrum auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission, a risky but intriguing move that would help carry the consumer electronics company into the telecommunications realm.

Citing unnamed sources, a BusinessWeek article on Monday said Apple CEO Steve Jobs has “studied the implications” of bidding on the spectrum, which analog TV broadcasters will return to the government in 2009 as they switch to digital television. Analysts have speculated wildly on other possible bidders, including Silicon Valley neighbors Google Inc. and eBay Inc.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The auction – which the FCC says will take place in January and could raise as much as $15 billion – will determine rights to a 700-megahertz wireless network with faster Internet access than cellular or Wi-Fi networks.

The FCC’s “open access” provision requires the network operators that win the auction to allow customers to use whatever phone and software they want on about one-third of the spectrum.

If Apple bid and won, it could offer service on its iPhone, which currently runs exclusively on AT&T’s network.