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Official FCC Blog

August, 2011

Tips for Communicating in an Emergency

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
August 27, 2011 - 01:59 PM
James Arden Barnett, Jr.

I want to share some important emergency information to you for during the storm so that you and your family stay safe.

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Electronic Filing for Full-Sized Cellular Maps

by Chris Miller, Program Analyst, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
August 26, 2011 - 11:53 AM

This week we made the announcement that starting on September 8, 2011, applicants can file full-sized (1:500,000 scale) cellular maps electronically using a standard GIS format.

These maps are filed when licensees of 800 MHz cellular service apply for authority to operate in an “unserved area” or notify the FCC of a reduction in their Cellular Geographic Service Area (CGSA).

With this exciting option, applicants will no longer need to file full-sized paper maps (although they can if they want to). By filing these maps electronically, we believe everyone involved benefits. First, the public will now gain instant access to these maps by using readily available GIS software. Applicants no longer need to print and mail these large maps to the FCC. And, we will now have another tool in our hands as we review these maps.

There are some specific steps that need to be followed when these maps are filed, so please take a look at the Public Notice we released for additional information.

We really are excited about this new option and look forward to having the first electronic maps filed next month.

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At the National Council of La Raza Conference

by Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, Associate Chief, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
August 23, 2011 - 11:50 AM

Embrace Now, this year’s National Council of La Raza (NCLR) conference, kicked off at the end of July. The Commission was well represented as we exhibited at the conference’s National Latino Family Expo. We provided information on a range of topics from the Do Not Call Registry to unwanted telephone marketing calls and information on finding local broadcast television stations. Of particular interest was Lifeline - which provides eligible consumers a basic monthly discount on one basic local service - and Link-Up - which pays for part of a connection or activation charge for new phone service. Consumers who were not aware of the eligibility requirements or restrictions were advised to contact their local service provider or public utilities commission. Most attendees who visited our booth wanted information on how to file an informal complaint or how to comment.National Council La Raza

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Announcing Apps for Communities Deadline Extended

by Clay Johnson, Partner, Big Window Labs
August 19, 2011 - 04:44 PM

We are thrilled to have already received over 35 entries to the Apps for Communities contest, but because we've just recently confirmed our impressive slate of judges, the Knight Foundation and the FCC wanted to give everyone a few extra weeks.  The results of this contest can have an enormously powerful impact on local communities across the country and we could not be happier that so many participants are interested in our contest.  As a result, we're extending our deadline until Monday, October 3rd.  

In addition, we are also honored to have the participation of so many distinguished judges:  Marc Andreessen, Mayor Cory Booker, Charles Best, Brad Feld, Jen Pahlka and Tom Lee.  They are looking forward to judging your entries.  This challenge is an effort to drive the great technical skills we have in our country out into our local communities. A particular goal is to build new applications to improve access for people who struggle with accessing information and services online: Seniors, non-English speakers, people who are uncomfortable with technology, and others. This contest seeks to bring the value of broadband to people who are, up until now, less likely to be online.

For those of you who've already submitted apps -- if you'd like to tweak and fine-tune your app and edit your submission, please feel free. Or if you'd like to double your chances of winning, you're welcome to use this extra time to create a second entry.

For those of you looking to enter our contest -- now's your chance to get started.  We've got an extra month on our deadline -- and if you'd like to get your work in front of these impressive judges, improve the way people use data in communities across America, and potentially win up to $60,000 -- now's your chance!

Good luck and thank you.

 

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Enhancements for Part 87 Aviation Radio Service Applications

by Scot Stone, Deputy Chief, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
August 16, 2011 - 12:10 PM

Today, we announced enhancements for certain types of Part 87 Aviation Radio Service applications filed in the Universal Licensing System (ULS).

First, applications can be filed for new or modified aeronautical enroute and flight test stations for authorization to operate with 8.33 kilohertz (kHz) channel spacing.  This enhancement is based on an FCC decision that permits voluntary narrowbanding from 25 kHz channel spacing to 8.33 kHz channel spacing. Narrowbanding aeronautical enroute channels provides the aviation industry with the ability to greatly enhance spectrum efficiency and alleviate congestion. Likewise, narrowbanding benefits flight test stations, which also face increasing frequency congestion.

Also, licensees that hold aircraft station licenses can file transfer of control and assignment of authorizations applications in ULS. This enhancement is based on an FCC decision that removes the prohibition on the assignment or transfer of aircraft station licenses. This change reduces administrative burdens and transactional costs for licensees.

Additional information about both of these changes is located in a Public Notice released today by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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Announcing Judging Panel for Apps for Communities

by Ellen Satterwhite, Consumer Policy Advisor
August 12, 2011 - 12:46 PM

The FCC and the Knight Foundation have partnered up for a competition to build apps to make cities more livable! As developers and communities’ use the last few weeks of summers to finish their entries for the Apps for Communities Challenge, it’s time to announce the impressive panel of judges who will be reviewing and scoring those entries.  We are honored to have investors, technologist, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and philanthropist who have agreed to server as judges for the competition; which ends October 3.  Without further ado, the judges are:

Marc Andreessen , co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz.

Marc Andreessen is a noted investor in information technology. He previously developed the web browser Mosaic and co-founded the company Netscape; he is an investor in numerous technology startups including Digg and Twitter; and he serves on the boards of Facebook, eBay and Hewlett-Packard (among others).

Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org.

DonorsChoose.org is a website that allows people to donate directly to specific projects in schools and classrooms. It was started in 2000 by Charles Best, when he was a teacher at a public high school in the Bronx. Since then, it has grown to serve all the public schools throughout the United States. As of August 2010, more than $55 million dollars had been donated to over 138,000 projects, helping more than 3,400,000 students in need.

Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey

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Wireless Backhaul Reform

by John Schauble, Deputy Division Chief, Broadband Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
August 9, 2011 - 02:03 PM

Today, the FCC released a wireless backhaul item that implements key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, by removing outdated regulatory barriers and unleashing additional spectrum for broadband services. The FCC’s actions will stimulate additional opportunities for broadband deployment, especially in rural America.

Wireless backhaul facilities carry voice and data communications from cell sites, businesses, wireless internet access points and other facilities to the public telephone network and the Internet.  Wireless technology is an increasingly important source of backhaul, as the overall demand for backhaul capacity continues to rise. In some rural and remote locations, fixed microwave links may be the only practical option for backhaul. Finding new opportunities to use wireless backhaul, and ways to use it more effectively, will help to solve the broadband capacity puzzle as more Americans use smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices to browse the web, use email, and download applications wirelessly.  

The wireless backhaul Report & Order takes several actions, including:

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Retrospective Analysis at the FCC

by Ruth Milkman, Special Counsel for Innovation in Government, FCC
August 9, 2011 - 09:06 AM

On July 11, 2011, the President issued an executive order to the heads of all independent agencies, including the FCC. The new executive order builds on the President's January 2011 Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and asks independent agencies to conduct both retrospective and prospective regulatory analyses, consistent with law.

In a recent communication to staff, Chairman Genachowski said the agency would act in accordance with the new executive order, and that he expects all FCC Bureaus and Offices will perform their responsibilities consistent with the order. The Chairman asked me to oversee development of a plan to follow up on this directive.

The President's directives are consistent with the values and philosophy we apply here at the FCC. In a press conference following the release of the July 11 Executive Order, Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in OMB, noted that the FCC has a robust regulatory review process in place. Under Chairman Genachowski's leadership, we are proud of the progress we have made so far.

We've eliminated more than 50 unneeded regulations and we're working toward eliminating 25 unnecessary data collections.

We're focusing on developing innovative market-based policies that help advance important policy goals, such as Incentive Auctions for repurposing spectrum; increasing the flexible use of spectrum; and market-based mechanisms to more efficiently and effectively distribute Universal Service Fund support.

We've responded to calls from industry to review our rules and initiated proceedings on Retransmission Consent, and on Out-of-Band Emissions in the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) bands to permit operators to use licensed spectrum more efficiently.

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Bringing Broadband to Rural America: The Home Stretch on USF and ICC Reform

August 8, 2011 - 01:46 PM

Since we voted unanimously in February to frame a path forward for fiscally responsible reform of the Universal Service Fund’s high-cost program and intercarrier compensation system, the Commission has been diligently reviewing comments, engaging with stakeholders, crunching numbers, and refining proposals. Three public workshops were held, including one in Nebraska. And we’ve met with the diverse participants in the universal service and intercarrier compensation system, including state officials; consumer advocates; phone companies and broadband providers of all sizes; Internet content and application developers; and many others. Indeed, since February, the staff and Commissioners have held more than 400 stakeholder meetings on these issues and we’ve received more than 900 comments.

As part of this effort, we challenged stakeholders to come to us with serious proposals that reflected the core principles set forth in February. We are pleased that several parties, including the state members of the Joint Board on Universal Service and a group of large and small telephone companies and associations, have worked hard to present comprehensive reform proposals.

To assist in our review of these and other proposals, last week the Wireline and Wireless Bureaus released a Public Notice requesting comment on specific aspects of the proposals and on additional issues that are not fully developed in the record. We encourage parties to focus their feedback on the specific questions the Bureaus have raised.

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Chairman Announces Challenge.gov Competition Winners

by Jordan Usdan, Attorney and Policy Advisor
August 5, 2011 - 11:08 AM
This morning FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the winners of the agency’s latest contest on Challenge.gov, a competition for scientists and software developers to engage in innovative research and create useful apps that further the understanding of Internet connectivity and network science. A video of the Chairman’s remarks and the award presentation are available. 
 
The three winning teams were recognized at a ceremony with remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The winning teams also presented their apps and research to the Commission. 
 
The three winning teams are University of Michigan & Microsoft Research; School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology; and The ICSI (International Computer Science Institute) Netalyzr Project. Descriptions of the winning entries are detailed below.
 
The Open Internet Challenge sought to encourage the development of innovative and functional applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with the open Internet.  The research component of the challenge sought academic papers that analyze relevant Internet openness measurements, techniques, and data.  The challenge was designed to encourage and reward the creation innovative and useful research. 
 
The challenge is posted on Challenge.gov, a new website and digital platform where entrepreneurs, innovators, and citizen solvers can compete for prizes by providing novel solutions to problems large and small.  Details of the challenge are posted.
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