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Official FCC Blog

December, 2010

Critical Infrastructure Protection Month

by Jamie Barnett
December 22, 2010

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On December 3 of this year, the President issued a Proclamation that December is Critical Infrastructure Protection Month. In the Proclamation, President Obama said, "[M]y Administration is committed to delivering the necessary information, tools, and resources to areas where critical infrastructure exists in order to maintain and enhance its security and resilience." This effort is a central focus for the Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The Bureau's mission is to ensure public safety and homeland security by advancing state-of-the-art communications that are accessible, reliable, resilient, and secure, in coordination with public and private partners. As part of the nation's national security protection programs, the Bureau is a key contributor in protecting communications facilities that are a critical component of the nation's infrastructure.

There are several critical infrastructure sectors and each sector has an Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). As part of our responsibilities in critical infrastructure protection, we support the Communications ISAC by providing subject matter expert liaison staff. The mission of the Communications ISAC is to facilitate voluntary collaboration and information sharing among government and industry in support of Executive Order 12472 and the national critical infrastructure protection goals of Presidential Decision Directive 63. The intent is to gather information on vulnerabilities, threats, intrusions, and anomalies from multiple sources in order to perform analysis with the goal of averting or mitigating impact upon the telecommunications infrastructure.

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Moving Forward on Next Generation 911

by Jamie Barnett
December 21, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:53:height=100,width=66]]Today, the Commission adopted a Notice of Inquiry which initiates a comprehensive proceeding to address how Next Generation 911 (NG911) can enable the public to obtain emergency assistance by means of advanced communications technologies beyond traditional voice-centric devices.  This represents the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s next step in implementing the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.

In the telecommunications industry overall, competitive forces and technological innovation have ushered in an era of advanced Internet-Protocol (IP)-based devices and applications that have vastly enhanced the ability of the public to communicate and send and receive information.  Unfortunately, our legacy circuit-switched 911 system has been unable to accommodate the capabilities embedded in many of these advanced technologies, such as the ability to transmit and receive photos, text messages, and video.  However, we have begun a transition to NG911, a system which will bridge the gap between the current 911 system and the evolving technological environment.
   
This November, I had the chance to visit Arlington, Virginia’s state of the art 911 center, which is at the forefront of the move toward NG911.  With 70% of our nation’s 911 calls originating from mobile phones, the evolution of our 911 system to one which not only accepts, but welcomes, text and multimedia messages is crucial.  The advances in our NG911 system pave the way for first responders to attain maximum situational awareness of an emergency before stepping onto the scene.  Additionally, it allows consumers, who often rely on text and multimedia messaging, to feel comfortable in the fact that the 911 system is responsive to their unique needs in the new media environment. 

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New Rules for an Open Internet

by Julius Genachowski
December 21, 2010

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Almost everyone seems to agree that the openness of the Internet is essential -- it has unleashed an enormous wave of innovation, economic growth, job creation, small business generation, and vibrant free expression.

But for too long, the freedom and openness of the Internet has been unprotected. No rules on the books to protect basic Internet values. No process for monitoring Internet openness as technology and business models evolve.

No recourse for innovators, consumers, or speakers harmed by improper practices. And no predictability for Internet service providers, so that they can effectively manage and invest in broadband networks.

Earlier today, that all changed.

As a result of a vote, which was just taken by the FCC, we have -- for the first time -- enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.

The rules we have adopted are straightforward, and they enshrine a set of key principles.

First, consumers and innovators have a right to know the basic performance characteristics of their Internet access and how their network is being managed. We have adopted a transparency rule that will give consumers and innovators the clear and simple information they need to make informed choices in choosing networks or designing the next killer app.

Second, consumers and innovators have a right to send and receive lawful traffic -- to go where they want, say what they want, experiment with ideas -- commercial and social, and use the devices of their choice. Our new rules thus prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of devices to the network.

Third, consumers and innovators have a right to a level playing field. No central authority, public or private, should have the power to pick winners and losers on the Internet; that’s the role of the commercial market and the marketplace of ideas.

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Supporting Stability in the Online Marketplace

by Dan McSwain
December 13, 2010

Internet businesses need stability to thrive. That’s the message that emerged from a meeting held here at the FCC last week between Chairman Genachowski and CALinnovates, a group of start-ups and young businesses that are creating jobs and introducing new technology products into the online marketplace.

A resolution to the Open Internet proceeding that preserves the foundational principles of the medium is fundamental to helping new businesses grow. Watch the latest installation in our FCC Tech Cast series -- a round of interviews with the entrepreneurs themselves -- to get their first-hand take on the urgent need for action on this issue.

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Creating Interoperable Communications for First Responders

by Jennifer Manner
December 10, 2010

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Today we took a very important step in ensuring nationwide interoperability for public safety broadband communications.  The Public Safety Bureau, based on the recommendations of the FCC's Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC), is working toward a technical interoperability framework. The ERIC recommendations were developed following a thorough review of fifteen interoperability showings from early builders of 700 MHz public safety mobile broadband networks, as well as extensive comments by the public safety community.
This technical framework will help ensure from day one that interoperability is achieved among all public safety broadband networks. It also moves us closer to ensuring that the nation will not face the same magnitude of problems previously identified by the 9/11 Commission and others regarding the limitations and inability of America's first responders to effectively communicate with one another during 9/11 and then, subsequently, during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  We look forward to our continued work with America's first responders, state and local emergency managers and hospital emergency departments to make sure their broadband communications needs are met.

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Announcing Generation Mobile, Featuring Jane Lynch

by George Krebs
December 9, 2010

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(Photo credit: LG Text Ed)

You can find them in the most innocent settings. The dinner table, the classroom, during evening homework hour or an otherwise quiet family walk. Clicking, clacking, beeping, buzzing and whirring. This maneuvering marauder? Mobile phones equipped with text messaging. These devices are exploding in use among the current generation and teens seem programmed to use them constantly.

A happy medium exists. Commonsense and responsible use of technology is within reach. To many parents the mobile culture is unfamiliar. We're hosting a Generation Mobile forum next Tuesday bringing together teens, parents, educators and experts. During this event we'll do our best to help parents navigate these challenging issues.

We'll discuss cyberbullying, sexting, over use, privacy, and texting-while-driving. The Pew Internet and American Life project will present their findings from a landmark study, "Kids and Mobile Phones."

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The FCC and First Year of Open Government

by Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director
December 7, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]In the modern federal landscape, the FCC finds itself increasingly at the intersection of technology, law, and citizen participation. It's a challenging place to be—these arenas change quickly, and move in ways that advancements in one ripple out and can change the others. But the opportunity to make progress on these fronts has never been greater.

Modernizing the rulemaking process—keeping up with these changes to best serve the American public—was the focus of an event hosted by the Brookings Institute last week. As an invited member of the Digitization – Past, Present, and Short-Term Future panel , I spoke about two key benefits that new technology offers to the rulemaking process.

First, erulemaking can make government work smarter. Moving from a largely paper-based system—the norm very recently—to a digital system has led to a rulemaking process that's accessible, searchable and less weighed down by troves of paperwork.

Second, moving rulemaking online has allowed the FCC to open a process that was closed for too long. Traditionally, access to rulemaking required access to the expert legal mechanisms typically out of the reach of most citizens, yet the rules we are creating are created for all and often impact people who don't have access to legal support. We've made strides on this front - You may be familiar with our online comment crowdsourcing platforms, the ability to integrate blog comments into the public record, and our other moves to make the FCC process as open as possible – there's more to come.

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Internet Service: Would You Switch - and Why?

by Joel Gurin
December 6, 2010

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If you're like many Americans, you may be wondering whether you should keep the Internet service you have in your home. If you have more than one broadband provider in your area, you may be getting a barrage of advertising encouraging you to switch from your current provider to another one. Should you switch – and if so, why?

At the FCC, we've done a representative national survey to find out how satisfied consumers are with their Internet service and what goes into the decision to switch or stick with an ISP. We're releasing the results of that survey today. It shows that Americans are largely pleased with their Internet service, but have some cause for dissatisfaction – and face obstacles that make it hard for them to switch ISPs.

Our survey found that 38 percent of Internet users have changed service providers in the last three years, more than half of them for a reason other than changing residences. The majority of Internet users seem to be satisfied with their service; most people who haven't switched say they haven't even considered it seriously. Still, 38 percent is a significant number, and one that deserves further exploration.

What makes people want to change providers? Two things: Price and performance. Nearly a quarter of home Internet users are dissatisfied with the price they pay for service, and 47 percent of those who switched ISPs said price was a major reason. Even more – 49 percent – said that a major reason they switched was to get a faster or higher performance Internet connection.

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Preserving Openness to Protect Jobs

by Julius Genachowski
December 3, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:88:height=93,width=70]]The impact that Internet entrepreneurs have made on the world is unquestioned.
These businesses push the limits of innovation and move America's economy forward, bound only by their imagination as they grow and expand their reach. This free spirit of creativity doesn’t just make new tech, it also helps create new jobs.
Small businesses and start-ups have accounted for more than 22 million new American jobs over the last 15 years. And broadband has played a central part, enabling small business to lower their costs and reach new customers in new markets around the country and, indeed, the globe.
As these businesses grow stronger, they make room for new jobs that help America compete in the global technology marketplace. Take eBay, for example, which in its short history has been a force multiplier for economic production, facilitating 60 billion dollars a year in economic activity.
The animating force behind all of these efforts is a shared appreciation for the Internet’s wondrous contributions to our economy and our way of life. Over the past generation we’ve seen American-made Internet innovations connect people across the globe. Social networking tools, online video services, and other new tech haven’t just changed the way we stay in touch -- they’ve helped create a booming sector of unbound creativity and economic opportunity.
I’ve learned a key lesson from these entrepreneurs and their businesses. Their spectacular growth is powered by a core value, one shared by the founders of our nation and the architects of the Internet: restrictions on freedom shackle the human spirit, and constrain the promise of bold, new ventures.

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Preserving a Free and Open Internet [video]

by George Krebs
December 2, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]In his clarion call yesterday morning Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out a proposal for basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, job creation, competition, and free expression.

These rules rest on three basic tenets:

  1. Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination
  2. Consumers have the right to basic information about your broadband service
  3. The Internet will remain a level playing field.

This proposal is deeply rooted in history. The grounding ideas were first articulated by Republican Chairmen Powell and Martin and, in 2005, endorsed in a unanimous FCC policy statement. Chairman Genachowski cited the many months of hard work leading up to this moment – hard work across government, industry and broadband providers – and the substantial response received from the engaged public.

(This is cross-posted on the Open Internet Blog. Please leave comments there.)

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