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Commission Document Attachment

DOC-325345A3

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
Technology Transitions, GN Docket No. 13-5; AT&T Petition to Launch a Proceeding
Concerning the TDM-to-IP Transition,
GN Docket No. 12-353; Connect America Fund,
WC Docket No. 10-90; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG
Docket No. 10-51; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services
for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
CG Docket No. 03-123;
Numbering Policies for Modern Communications, WC Docket No. 13-97
I say this quite often when it comes to technology that this is an exciting
time to be in this space. While walking the floor at the Consumer Electronics
Show (CES) earlier this month, I had a first-hand view of new and innovative
products that are game-changing, mind boggling, and life-altering. Full color, 3-D
printed confections (yes, I am still a bit fixated on customized sweets), a device
that augments previously inaudible sounds which could help wounded soldiers
improve their hearing and quality of life. The concept cars of yesterday are the
smart cars of today and hold the promise of saving lives and avoiding collisions.
Technological advancements and innovation abound with limitless potential.
I am proud to say that during my tenure, the Commission has taken a
number of actions to promote investment and innovation in this area. The National
Broadband Plan will celebrate its fourth anniversary in March. It set forth a
blueprint for the nation to move from legacy telephone services to the broadband
enabled era in all sectors, including health and education, and recommended that
the Commission update its policies to promote and reflect IP networks.
Today’s action, is another in a series that the Commission has undertaken to
implement many of these recommendations, including the landmark, bipartisan
reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation. In acting on these
recommendations the Commission found that these legacy systems not only were
subsidizing services of a bygone era, but also were deterring the transition to IP
networks. The Commission provided a path to “promote innovation by eliminating
barriers to the transformation of today’s telephone networks into the all-IP
broadband networks of the future.”1

1 See Connect America Fund; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future; Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates
for Local Exchange Carriers; High-Cost Universal Service Support; Developing an Unified Intercarrier
Compensation Regime; Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Lifeline and Link-Up
; Universal Service
Reform
Mobility Fund, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109, GN Docket No. 09-51, CC Docket Nos.
01-92, 96-45, WT Docket No. 10-208, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd
17663, 17680 para. 648 (2011) (USF/ICC Transformation Order), pets. for review pending sub nom. In re FCC 11-
161, No. 11-9900 (10th Cir. filed Dec. 8, 2011).
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In the two years since the Commission adopted the USF/ICC
Transformation Order, providers have increased their deployment of IP equipment
and facilities so much so that today we launch a process for interested parties to
submit proposals for experiments, which would shift entirely away from legacy
equipment and facilities. I am pleased that the Order recognizes what I have
maintained all along – that the core values embodied in the Communications Act –
competition, consumer protection, universal service and public safety, do not
change as technologies evolve, and must guide the Commission’s process going
forward. While the transition holds potential for the introduction of next
generation 911, with features such as video call and more reliability and
redundancy, there is also a risk of unintended consequences for consumers, public
safety, and competition. The parameters for these experiments, including
protections for these core values as well as the means to identify data that would be
useful for experiments should provide the Commission and the states information
needed to make decisions going forward. I am also pleased that the Order instructs
the Commission to consult with states and Tribal governments in geographic areas
where entities propose a trial.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that not everyone in this country
has the luxury of being able to take advantage of those products, devices and
applications I saw at CES. Most of us in this room are fortunate to have the ability
to be the first adopters, but millions cannot because they live in rural areas.
Millions more have access but cannot afford to do so. The Commission has a duty
as provided in section 254 of the Telecommunications Act to close digital divides
and ensure that all Americans, including low-income consumers and those in rural,
insular and high cost areas have access to advanced telecommunications and
information services reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.
I remain firmly committed to ensuring that the Commission lives up to this
Congressional mandate, and I believe the rural broadband trials in the Order and
Further Notice could be a vehicle to help achieve these goals. The USF/ICC
Transformation Order
sets up a process to give incumbent carriers the right of first
refusal to accept or decline state-wide support using a forward-looking cost model
to provide broadband and voice to unserved areas. The Commission sought
comment on the competitive process for the distributing Connect American Fund
Phase II support in areas where the incumbent declines its right of first refusal.
These rural broadband trials could help facilitate the Commission’s ability to
structure the competitive process, while the Order makes clear that the distribution
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of Phase II support under the forward-looking model continues on a parallel track
without delay.
These rural broadband experiments and the technology transitions, present
an incredible opportunity to explore how best to achieve the Commission’s goals
adopted in the USF/ICC Transformation Order of “ensur[ing] universal
availability of modern networks capable of providing voice and broadband service
to homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions.”2 Connecting anchor
institutions was something I strongly advocated leading up to the adoption of the
USF/ICC Transformation Order. I believe the Commission should leverage the
Connect America Fund to achieve all of our obligations in section 254 including
serving rural and low-income consumers, and connecting anchor institutions and
health care facilities. This Order invites experiments to further explore these
issues, to ensure that the goals of connecting anchor institutions in the USF/ICC
Transformation Order
are realized.
I appreciate the support of my request for comment on healthcare broadband
experiments which could ensure that consumers and health care providers in rural
areas have access to advanced telemedicine and other remote monitoring services.
Technological advancements are transforming the delivery of healthcare, and some
Americans stand to be left behind because they either lack access, or the means, to
these services. I believe our universal service mandate includes ensuring that
consumers have access to these advanced services, and hope to work with the
Chairman and my colleagues to move quickly to adopt an order approving these
healthcare trials.
With regard to disabilities access, I am excited that the Order adopts the $3
million budget proposed in the Video Relay Services Reform Order for research
focusing on the impact of IP-based technologies and services for persons with
disabilities. The goal is to ensure, that the Telecommunications Relay Services,
offer functionally equivalent voice services, and improve the efficiency and
availability of TRS. Research here could focus on the specific needs of this
community including effects on different demographics, and the relationship with
health care. The technology transitions have opened tremendous doors and
opportunities for persons with disabilities and I strongly encourage all interested
parties to submit research proposals for the Commission’s consideration to
evaluate how to improve our TRS services.

2 USF/ICC Transformation Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 17873, para. 48.
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Finally, I am pleased my colleagues agreed with my suggestion to seek the
input of the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications
Services a request to help improve the Commission’s own consumer complaint
processes, by learning best practices from the states. I believe we can learn from
our state partners, particularly on consumer complaints, something that states know
very well.
This item is comprehensive in scope, and I want to thank the Chairman for
his leadership, and the dedicated team of public servants, who worked so
diligently. While the list includes many talented staff in virtually all of the
Commission’s Bureaus and Offices, allow me to specifically thank, Jonathan
Sallet, Stephanie Weiner, Jonathan Chambers, Nick Alexander, Matthew Quinn,
Julie Veach, Carol Mattey, Tim Stelzig, Admiral David Simpson, and Henning
Schulzrinne.
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