Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Official FCC Blog

Incentive Auction Progress Report

by Gary Epstein, Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force
October 24, 2014 - 11:59 AM

When Chairman Wheeler arrived at the Commission last November, he described the incentive auction as taking a cutting edge concept to market on deadline. At that time he wrote in a blog post, “managing a complex undertaking such as this also requires an ongoing commitment to continuously and honestly assess its readiness and its project plan.”

Now is a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are going. It is also time to carefully consider and recalibrate our proposed timing for the commencement of the incentive auction.

Following the Commission’s adoption of the Report and Order in May, we have made consistent progress implementing the incentive auction. Of particular note, the Commission has followed through on commitments made in the Report and Order and initiated rule-makings to address the operations of important services affected by the incentive auction, including unlicensed white spaces devices, wireless microphones and Low Power Television.  And just last week, the Commission addressed several broadcast and wireless interference issues.

Read more »

Reflections on this week's ITU discussions

by Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman
October 24, 2014 - 11:24 AM

Every four years, the International Telecommunication Union holds a Plenipotentiary Conference to address the strategic direction of the ITU on telecommunications issues. I have just spent several days in Busan, Korea at this year's conference, working side by side with other USG officials, including head of delegation Ambassador Danny Sepulveda from the State Department, Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling from NTIA, Assistant Secretary Andy Ozment from DHS, and my colleague from the FCC, Commissioner Mike O'Rielly.

Together, we held a series of bilateral meetings with delegations from other countries on the important work of the conference, seeking to ensure the international community helps to provide development and capacity-building assistance to countries on important issues like infrastructure deployment and cybersecurity. Regulatory issues were hot topics in many of these meetings, as well as in a number of FCC bilateral meetings with our counterparts from independent regulators and telecom ministries.

I came away from these meetings with a few key points.  First, virtually every regulator emphasized how important it is to get broadband to rural and remote areas of their countries - to promote economic development, education and effective healthcare.  Not just connectivity, but broadband. They understand that broadband access can unlock the potential for individuals to prosper in their local communities instead of migrating to urban centers in search of a better quality of life.

Read more »

FCC Releases Open Internet Reply Comments to the Public

by Gigi B. Sohn, Special Counsel for External Affairs, Office of the Chairman
October 22, 2014 - 04:07 PM

It is now well known that the FCC’s Open Internet docket is the most commented upon rulemaking in the agency’s history, with more than 3.9 million submissions to date filed both through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), our dedicated openinternet@fcc.gov  email address, and via the additional option of Comma Separated Values (CSV) files.   Regardless of the method through which a comment was filed, every comment submitted has been made part of the official record of this proceeding. 

After the first initial comment period ended, our IT team made those comments available to the public in a series of XML files.  These files allowed researchers, journalists, and others to analyze the data so that the public and the FCC itself could discuss and learn from the comments.   The Sunlight Foundation, TechCrunch and the San Francisco analysis firm Quid were just some of the organizations and individuals who analyzed some or all the files and made those analyses available to the public. 

Read more »

Safety and Broadband Must Go Hand in Hand

October 15, 2014 - 12:11 PM

The wireless industry is a powerful driver of growth in our economy. New facilities pop up all the time, giving the devices in our pockets and purses better service and faster broadband connections. Our country relies on these connections, but serving America's exploding demand for them shouldn't come at the cost of a worker's life.

Too often though, that's exactly what is happening. In 2013, 13 workers lost their lives in this industry. This year: 11 so far. The tower industry might be small, currently employing 10,000 to 15,000 workers, but it's quickly proving to be one of the most dangerous. And if we don't do something now, the number of fatalities will grow as fast as the industry does.

This is why our agencies joined together yesterday with telecommunications and tower industry leaders to address this heartbreaking problem. We know that we can only solve it if we work together; that we each have a role to play in stopping these senseless tragedies. It's also why we're proud to announce that our partnership on this issue doesn't end today, but will continue in the form of a joint working group the FCC and DOL have decided to form, with industry participation, to develop recommended practices for employers.

We know that no one intends for a tower construction project to take a life. Contracts for tower work are often written to ensure safety from top to bottom, but that message often gets diluted in a decentralized industry that uses so much subcontracting. We have to make sure the protections are making it from the folks on the ground to the person 1,000 feet in the air holding the wrench or wearing the harness.

Read more »

Harmful Consumer Wireless Behavior and Practices

by Michael O'Rielly, FCC Commissioner
October 14, 2014 - 05:45 PM

Today’s wireless devices are amazing tools that empower people. Our wireless phones, smartphones, tablets, phablets and more allow us to seamlessly communicate, as well as take advantage of all Internet features and functions.  As a result, we have integrated these wireless capabilities into our daily lives. Such increased mobility, however, has led to troubling behavior by some users that deserve everyone’s attention. During my recent trips across our great nation, I was infuriated to hear of continued wireless device misuse. For many reasons, some consumers have yet to see or understand that their risky wireless practices and habits can harm themselves and other people.       

Distracted Driving – The number of people that are killed and injured by distracted driving is staggering. For instance, the National Safety Council estimates that there have been over 810,000 accidents in 2014, or about one every 30 seconds, involving texting on wireless phones by drivers. To put it in more granular form, the Arizona Department of Public Safety found that during a five-month period earlier this year, 10 people died and 380 people were injured because of distracted driving.  And the problem may be getting worse. A 2013 AT&T survey indicated that 49 percent of commuters admitted to texting while driving, up from 40 percent three years ago.

Read more »

An Update on Process Reform Efforts to Reduce Backlog

by Diane Cornell, Special Counsel, Office of the Chairman
October 9, 2014 - 03:31 PM

Since the release of the Report on FCC Process Reform last February, the dedicated staff here at the Commission has been hard at work on implementing the report’s recommendations.  One area of particular focus has been tackling matters that have been considered backlogged, and – even more importantly – increasing speed of disposal for all matters.  As noted in the Report, backlogs generally develop because of (1) increased volume of work; (2) complex issues; (3) inter-related issues; and/or (4) need for coordination with others.  Two key internal process reform working groups have been examining ways to not only reduce the number of items currently pending at the Commission, but to also move incoming items through the system faster.  A few examples of progress in this area include:

Read more »

Transaction Reviews and the Public Interest

October 7, 2014 - 02:57 PM

Today, in connection with two significant and simultaneous merger reviews, the Media Bureau issued an Order establishing unique protections for the Merger Applicants’ programming contracts, retransmission agreements, and other related materials.

This new procedure balances three important public-interest obligations: (i) the Commission’s need for access to highly relevant information about the Applicants’ business practices, (ii) other parties’ need to express informed views to the Commission about the transactions, and (iii) the need to ensure that sensitive competitive information is used solely for that purpose.

These obligations are supported by the law, which requires that we decide whether a proposed transaction would further the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” That analysis is informed by the Applicants’ past course of conduct, which is critical to understanding the impact of a future merger.  Equally important is the legal command that the Commission’s decision be based on a public record developed through public notice and an opportunity to comment.

The Commission often obtains sensitive commercial information along the way. And it has a long-established method of handling such information. Through a binding Protective Order, third parties can gain access to Highly Confidential Information only after agreeing to restrictions that are based on years of Commission experience. For example, the only people allowed to see Highly Confidential Information are outside representatives who personally acknowledge and commit to abide by these restrictions.  The information may be used only in connection with the proceeding in which it is produced, and no one involved in competitive decision-making is eligible to see it. Individuals also must destroy or return the information when the Commission’s proceeding is over.

Read more »

Evolution in the Cellular Service

by Roger C. Sherman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
October 2, 2014 - 11:40 AM

In the 1980s, the FCC launched the 800 MHz Cellular Service, the first “cell phone” spectrum band, sparking a worldwide mobile revolution.  Three decades later, Cellular has been, by any measure, an incredible success.  Using these frequencies, wireless operators have deployed multiple generations of wireless networks covering more than 99% of the U.S. population.  Yet, with the passage of time, it has become clear that many of the rules governing the Cellular Service have not kept pace with changes in technology and in the overall regulatory landscape.  The time has come to upgrade the Cellular Service rules for the 21st Century.

Today, Chairman Wheeler circulated a draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that puts forth major changes to modernize and streamline the Commission’s rules and application processes for Cellular Service licensees.   This reform would fulfill a recommendation in the Staff Report on FCC Process Reform by reducing regulatory burdens and fostering the deployment of new generations of Cellular Service across the country. 

Since the Commission first adopted rules governing the Cellular Service, mobile service and mobile devices have evolved from analog-based voice communications using suitcase-style devices, to high speed mobile broadband using pocket sized computers.  The Cellular Service licensing rules have not kept pace.

Over time, many of the Commission’s legacy Cellular rules that were instrumental in developing a successful service have outlived their usefulness and some now burden the timely deployment of the latest technologies.  

Read more »

Meeting the Mobile Moment

by Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman
September 26, 2014 - 10:59 AM

Last weekend’s record-setting launch of the new iPhone is just the latest reminder that our appetite for new mobile technologies appears to be insatiable. And this continuous cycle of mobile innovation is not only delighting U.S. consumers, it’s a major force in driving economic growth, boosting U.S. competitiveness, and enabling solutions to challenges like education and health care.

Seizing the opportunities of mobile innovation is one of the FCC’s highest priorities. Our mobile agenda rests on three pillars: making more spectrum available for broadband; using the market and technology to ensure more efficient and effective use of our spectrum; and promoting the deployment of mobile infrastructure. Today, I’m circulating to my colleagues a series of proposals that would advance each of these goals.

High-speed mobile broadband requires high-speed broadband buildout. However, the regulatory burdens associated with deployments can be expensive and time-consuming. We have to fix that.

For that reason, I circulated an item today that takes concrete steps to immediately and substantially ease the burdens associated with deploying wireless equipment.

The draft order recognizes that a technological revolution with regard to infrastructure deployment has changed the landscape. New Distributed Antenna System (DAS) networks and other small-cell systems use components that are a fraction of the size of traditional macrocells and can be installed – unobtrusively – on utility poles, buildings, and other existing structures.

The draft order accounts for that change by crafting a far more efficient process for small deployments that do not trigger concerns about environmental protection or historic preservation.

Read more »

Talking Tech in the Cradle of Liberty

by Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman
September 22, 2014 - 05:27 PM

Two-hundred twenty-seven years ago this week, the U.S. Constitution was ratified in Philadelphia, establishing our system of government and enshrining a vision of a more perfect Union that still guides us today. Part of that vision was the belief that promoting communications promotes a healthy democracy. The Constitution established the Postal Office, in part to help subsidize the press and to facilitate the distribution of news and information to the American people.

Today, I spent the day in Philadelphia and saw just the latest evidence that, while the technology has changed, our Founding Fathers’ insight into the importance of communications to our democracy’s health remains evergreen.

I met with local leaders who explained how people in their communities needed access to modern communications not only to stay informed, but also to find jobs, to further their education, and to and engage with their elected leaders.

I visited Philadelphia’s Free Library, which serves a community on-ramp to the world of information, especially for children and for people on fixed incomes. And, increasingly, this information is not found in books but on the Internet. Philadelphia residents who don’t have computers are visiting the Free Library to get online. And area students visit the library after school to use the computers to help complete their homework assignments.

The FCC’s E-Rate program has helped ensure that libraries and schools across America have Internet connectivity. This past July, the Commission approved the first major modernization of the E-Rate program since it was established 18 years ago. These reforms will substantially increase funding available to support Wi-Fi connectivity in libraries and schools, will make the program more user-friendly for libraries, and will increase efficiencies to make E-Rate dollars go farther.

Read more »
close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.