Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Official FCC Blog

November, 2010

Launching the TAC Blog Series

November 12, 2010 - 01:57 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:157:height=100,width=75]]Last Thursday afternoon I had the honor of chairing the first meeting of the FCC’s new Technical Advisory Council, or TAC. The TAC exists under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which follows a proud tradition of providing the Federal Government with outside consultation, dating back to the George Washington Administration and the first President’s Committee on the Whisky Rebellion. Thankfully our Council’s challenge does not involve such physically dangerous circumstances! This is the 5th TAC that the FCC has convened and in this iteration, our Council has been charged with another specific, critical task: To help the Commission identify important areas of innovation and develop communications and technology policies that will drive job creation and economic growth.

Our TAC has been convened at a dynamic time at the FCC and for the communications and technology industries. When the first TAC was suggested in the 1990’s, the FCC was an agency overseeing multiple analog networks. The digital world has changed that. IP has pushed activity to the edge and innovation has followed. The Census Bureau estimates that most of the net employment gains from 1980-2005 came from firms younger than 5 years old—and those firms looked more like the distributed networks that connected them than they did the centralized networks of old.

Amidst this change, the challenge for the TAC in its advisory role is to answer several questions.

Read more »

Open Developer Day's First Chapter

by Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director
November 9, 2010 - 04:45 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]In a packed Commission Meeting Room on Monday, a coalition of tech developers and accessibility advocates made FCC history.

By organizing and hosting the FCC's first Open Developer Day – one of the first of its kind in the federal government, and the first hosted at a federal HQ – the Commission took another big step towards realizing the full potential of the broad community of folks that FCC data and FCC tools have the potential to impact.

The success of the event proved that citizen developers are eager to engage in open collaboration with the FCC to find innovative uses for government data. Cooperative efforts like this help find efficiencies for users, open the door to new economic and creative opportunities, and stretch the value of the .gov dollar in ways we're continuing to explore.

Open Developer Day also highlighted the ways that FCC initiatives can create efficiencies across the landscape of other government agencies – a pillar of the Gov 2.0 approach. The long-term success of these methods depends on agencies' ability to cultivate an active community. I think this event shows us that we've made a great start, and we're learning how we continue to improve on the steps we've taken so far.

Our own wrap up of Open Developer Day is coming, but I wanted to share this great video interview shot in our new, soon-to-be-released FCC TEC lab. O'Reilly Media's Alex Howard sat down with Gina Trapani – a Developer Day veteran herself – to talk about the take-aways from the event. If you attended in person, watched via the livestream, or participated on the #fccdevday hashtag, leave your thoughts in the comments below. Tell us what you thought worked well, or pass on your ideas for the next FCC Open Developer Day for us to read.

Read more »

Seeking Nominations for the Chairman's AAA

by Pam Gregory, Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative
November 9, 2010 - 12:11 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:154:height=101,width=70]]

At the July 19th event celebrating the anniversary of the ADA, Chairman Genachowski launched the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative and announced the establishment of the Chairman’s Awards for Advancement of Accessibility (or Chairman’s AAA).  The Chairman’s speech, "Empowering Americans with Disabilities Through Technology" was presented at the FCC’s Americans with Disabilities Act 20th Anniversary Celebration. The A&I Initiative and the Chairman’s AAA are based on recommendations in the National Broadband Plan.

The AAA Awards will be given to pioneers in accessibility and innovations.  Contenders could be individuals or organizations, public and/or private entities, academics, students, application developers, and represent mainstream or assistive technology industries.  In addition to recognizing the development of individual mainstream or assistive technologies introduced into the marketplace, the awards could also recognize other accessibility advancements, such as the development of standards or best practices that foster accessibility, or the development of a new consumer clearinghouse of disability-related products and services.  We also believe that teaching modules and tools that could help students learn universal design and other accessibility practices could be worthy of recognition.

Read more »

Global Network of Women ICT Decision-Makers and Girls in ICT

November 8, 2010 - 01:15 PM

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:236:height=54,width=70]]In Serbia, we spearheaded the initiative to create a “Global Network of Women ICT Decision-Makers” with a proposal for amending Resolution 70 at the recent ITU Plenipot in Guadalajara, Mexico.  The main idea behind the network is to promote careers for young women in ICT, as well as encourage women and girls of all ages to use ICTs for social and economic empowerment. The main promoters of women in ICT will be the women already working in the sector, as there are a growing number of women in the ICT field with decision-making power, including relevant Ministries, national regulatory authorities, and the industry itself. Our intention is to bring together these women, on a global scale, through the “Global Network of Women ICT Decision-Makers” utilizing the international coverage ITU provides; and we have made great progress -- Resolution 70 was adopted on October 18, 2010.

Also, there is an additional effort to establish international Girls in ICT/Girl's Day to be held on every fourth Thursday of April.  This day would be a time when ICT companies, other companies with ICT departments, ICT training facilities, universities, research centers, government bodies, and all ICT-related institutions are invited to organize an open day for girls, where girls could see for themselves what a career in the field might bring, freely ask questions, or have speakers take part in a specially focused "women in ITC career days " at their local schools.  These ICT companies could also organize shadow projects (where girls could shadow a woman-leader in ICT for one or several days).  I would like to use this opportunity to invite you to join us in our initiative, as well as link in your initiative to the "virtual" network in an effort to create a "real" network for women and girls.

Read more »

Gearing Up for Open Developer Day

by Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer
November 4, 2010 - 06:03 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:43:height=98,width=70]]

Ed. Note: Visit the Open Developer Day wiki for more info.

This coming Monday the commission will play host to a one-of-a-kind event in federal government. We’re calling on coders, programmers and developers of all stripes to join us at FCC headquarters for our first ever Open Developer Day. This will be a rare opportunity for developers in the public and private sectors to join forces. Out of this gathering will come innovations, collaborations, and continued open government partnership.

Central to Monday’s event will be three tracks weaving their way through the day. Equipped with our laptops and the fellowship of sharp friends we’ll be working through accessibility solutions and open APIs; and we’ll host a Free Develop, an open-ended developer free-for-all. FCC tech minds and leadership will open the event, situating our Developer Day within the larger open government movement.

Programmers from the Yahoo! Developer Network will be on hand to demo their tools and provide guidance. They will give an overview of YQL, their query language which allows developers to “access and shape data across the Internet through one simple language, eliminating the need to learn how to call different APIs.” We will also see a demonstration of their YUI Library, a set of “utilities and controls … for building richly interactive web applications.”

Read more »

Mystery solved: Consumers win in Verizon Wireless "mystery fees" settlement

November 4, 2010 - 05:40 PM

Late last week, the Enforcement Bureau resolved a ten-month investigation into allegations that Verizon Wireless incorrectly billed 15 million customers for unauthorized data charges.  The settlement — the largest enforcement action in FCC history — ensures that affected customers will get at least $52.8 million of their money back and requires Verizon Wireless to make a record $25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury.  It also obligates Verizon Wireless to cease billing for unauthorized data charges, give consumers more (and clearer) information about data plans and options, and provide robust training to its customer service employees — so that consumers who have questions can get straight answers and prompt action.

Notably, Verizon Wireless customers themselves played a key role in bringing the "mystery fees" to light.  The settlement is a great example of what can happen when consumers speak up, and we're proud to have played our part in making sure that the voices of many millions of individual consumers were heard.

So, in addition to the money, what else do Verizon Wireless customers get out of the settlement?

  • Improved customer service
  • Data blocks on request, if they want to avoid or limit data charges
  • Right to request a refund for unauthorized data charges, if they do not receive one
  • Close monitoring of data charges by a new Verizon Wireless Data Charge Task Force
  • Strong accountability and compliance monitoring by the FCC

This is just the latest in the Enforcement Bureau's continuing effort on the consumer protection front.  We will monitor the company's compliance going forward, and remain committed to standing with and for consumers.  So, consumers, if you need us, our lights are always on.

Read more »

Lifted By the Cloud

by Elizabeth Lyle, Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
November 3, 2010 - 01:21 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:179:height=95,width=76]]

President Obama has repeatedly made clear his commitment to equal opportunity and full inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of life, including access to technology. He most recently made this point when he signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which provides access to advanced technologies for people with disabilities.

Chairman Genachowski has embraced this commitment wholeheartedly. In addition to leading the charge on implementing the recently passed legislation, in July he established of the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, as recommended in the FCC's National Broadband Plan. The A&I Initiative promotes collaborative problem solving and uses the tools of public and private sector innovation to address accessibility barriers.

As part of this initiative, on October 21 the FCC partnered with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado and Raising the Floor, an international coalition of individuals and organizations who promote internet accessibility for people with disabilities, to launch "Lifted by the Cloud: Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility" on GSA's new challenge.gov platform. The challenge solicits short multimedia presentations from the public on their visions of how cloud computing can create new opportunities for people with disabilities. Find out more information about this challenge, which will run until May 1, 2011.

Read more »

Securing Your Online Surfing and Transactions

November 2, 2010 - 12:47 PM

Leaves are falling, the summer seems like a blur, the kids are knee-deep in homework, and the boxes and bubble wrap from newly purchased computer laptops and their slim-downed cousins, netbooks, have finally made their way to the basement for storage. If you haven't already checked, now is the time to see what anti-virus and firewall software was provided with your computer, and to learn how to use these tools.

Anti-virus and firewall programs protect computers from a host of potentially dangerous programs that can wreak havoc not only on their computer hosts, but can spread to any other computer connected to the same network. That's the bad news.

The good news is there are things you can do to protect yourself and your kids from malicious software that may be downloaded to your computer without your knowledge when you are surfing the Internet.

Read more »

Good for Jobs, Good for Our National Purposes

by Phoebe Yang, Senior Advisor to the Chairman on Broadband
November 1, 2010 - 11:59 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:237:height=100,width=70]]Most of the time, when commentators talk about the benefits of broadband, they focus on its impact on economic development, and for good reason. Jobs are a central concern for almost anyone in American public life today, and high-speed broadband can bring real benefits.

Consider Chattanooga, Tennessee’s recent announcement that it will offer 1 Gbps service to all 170,000 customers in its service area by the end of this year. Companies are saying that having access to a high-performance fiber network is a significant factor in their decisions to expand in the area, and Chattanooga is already seeing large business expansion and small business relocation.

But doctors, teachers and engineers are also showing that broadband can benefit our ability to achieve national priorities like improving health outcomes, educating our children and making our electric grid smarter. High-speed connectivity is allowing doctors to practice telemedicine, treating patients hundreds of miles away who would otherwise have little access to advanced care. It’s enabling educators to extend learning beyond mere words – from describing historic events like the first women to fly or enter space, to – at the click of a mouse – showing actual video and audio footage of events like Amelia Earhart's flight across the Atlantic or the launch of Challenger. And, it’s helping electric utilities manage energy use and reduce bills for their customers.

In short, broadband is the foundation both for economic opportunity and social prosperity in the 21st century.  Like electricity or telephones in prior generations, it is hard to imagine an enabling technology more vital to our future.

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.