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Official FCC Blog

December, 2011

Introducing MyFCC Beta

by David Robbins, Managing Director
December 20, 2011

MyFCCBuilding a website that serves many audiences is a complex challenge. And it is a challenge best met in partnership with the site’s frequent users.

That’s why today we are excited to announce the public Beta launch of MyFCC, and to solicit and encourage your feedback, questions and recommendations as part of our commitment to continual improvement of the FCC.gov experience.

MyFCC is a new tool designed to let you create a customized FCC online experience for quick access to the tools and information you need. Personalization options built into MyFCC make it possible to easily create, save and manage a customized page, choosing from a menu of “widgets” featuring a wide variety of the FCC’s most frequently used tools and services. Examples include the latest headlines and official documents, the Daily Digest, and quick access to forms and online filings. The public Beta offers 22 such widgets for starters, with more on the way.

With its various customization options, MyFCC not only lets you set up a personalized page, but also allows any individual or group to easily share content where it’s needed -- either on my.fcc.gov or on other websites. Each individual widget can be embedded on any other website and you can also create full dashboards of widgets to share with friends and colleagues.

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FCC/SBA/SCORE Small Business and Broadband Conference

by Gilberto de Jesús, Attorney Advisor
December 16, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:347:height=89,width=70]]On February 15, 2012, OCBO and the E-Business Now Consortium, the Small Business Administration, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, and the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will jointly host a series of workshops on broadband tools for small businesses.  E-Business Now was created to ensure that small businesses develop the skills necessary to compete in today’s rapidly evolving digital marketplace.

This free event will take place at the Convention Center here in the District of Columbia.  We encourage entrepreneurs from the tri-state area and beyond to take advantage of this unique opportunity.  The workshop will explore strategies for boosting your revenues through broadband technology; creating a technology plan for your business; building the perfect website; tech strategies for improving cash flow; and one on one mentoring sessions on the latest broadband applications and techniques for small businesses.

Whether your business is IT focused or traditional brick and mortar, this conference will offer much needed insight on how the web can help you create a virtual online presence, expand your business footprint and streamline your administrative processes.

We certainly hope you can join us in February. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at Gilberto.dejesus@fcc.gov.

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Apps for Communities Challenge Winners Announced

by Brittany L. Stevenson, New Media Associate
December 15, 2011

Last April, Knight Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission challenged developers and citizens from across the country to develop apps that deliver personalized, actionable information for the Apps for Communities Challenge. As a result, we received almost 70 entries from around the U.S., from California to Pennsylvania.

The challenge awards $100,000 in prizes to winning application developers and is intended to bring together providers of public data, developers, and traditionally underserved populations through a national contest.

Today, the FCC and the Knight Foundation are proud to announce the winners of the Apps for Communities Challenge, developers who answered the call to make local public information more usable and more actionable, making the benefits of broadband more tangible for all Americans. They’ve created apps that directly connect citizens to public information, like social services, job listings, fresh food locations, resources for the homeless and education training. Our winners inspired us with their creativity and commitment to helping communities in need across our country.

The wait is over, and the winners of the Apps for Communities Challenge include:

$30,000 — Grand Prize:

Yak.bus

Yak.bus by Ryan Resella, San Francisco, California.

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Low-Cost Broadband, Computers for Millions of Students, Families

by Josh Gottheimer and Jordan Usdan, FCC Chairman's Office
December 14, 2011

Yesterday, at a public school in Washington, DC, joined by cable and technology executives and nonprofit leaders, FCC Chairman Genachowski announced an unprecedented effort to help close the digital divide, bringing low-cost broadband and computers to millions of low-income Americans.

Right now nearly one-third of the country – 100 million Americans – doesn’t have high-speed Internet at home.  Compare that to Singapore and Korea, where broadband adoption rates top 90 percent.  Minorities and low-income Americans are the hardest hit by this divide.  Research shows that cost, relevance, and digital literacy are the primary reasons many people aren’t connecting. Whether we're talking about jobs, education, or health care, in this day and age, getting online is a necessity, not a convenience. 

The “Connect to Compete” effort will offer millions of families eligible for the National School Lunch Program discounted $9.95/ month broadband Internet, $150 laptop or desktop refurbished computers, and free digital literacy training.  This represents a $4 billion in-kind offering for tens of millions of Americans. And it won’t spend any taxpayer dollars.

Yesterday, President Obama said: “This important partnership between my Administration and American businesses represents a major step towards closing the digital divide -- connecting more families to the 21st century economy, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities, and helping America win the future.”

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Apps for Communities Announcement Thursday

by Brittany L. Stevenson, New Media Associate
December 13, 2011

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation challenged American citizens to develop software applications (apps) that deliver personalized, actionable information to people that are least likely to be online. Using hyper-local government and other public data, people developed apps that will enable Americans to benefit from broadband communications -- regardless of geography, race, economic status, disability, residence on Tribal land, or degree of digital or English literacy -- by providing easy access to relevant content.

This week, we’re excited to unveil the winners at a ceremony at 10 AM PST Thursday Dec. 15 in Silicon Valley and online on the Apps for Communities site.

The Apps for Communities winner celebration details are: 

Date: December 15, 2011 from 10 am to 11 am
Location: Andreessen Horowitz Offices in Silicon Valley
RSVP: appchallenge@fcc.gov

At the celebration, you’ll find out our Grand Prize winner ($30,000), Second and Third Prize winners ($20k and $10k respectively), the five Runners Up prizes ($1k each), and the bonus prize winners!

Checkout all the eligible apps: http://appsforcommunities.challenge.gov/submissions

Remember to follow @communityapps, or the Apps for Communities Facebook page for updates and news.  Hope to see you there!

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Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Filing Window Opens

by Jeffrey Steinberg, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
December 9, 2011

On December 15, 2011, the filing window for service providers to file annual hearing aid compatibility (HAC) reports opens. The reports can be filed between December 15, 2011 and January 17, 2012.  This current filing window is only for service providers. The filing window for device manufacturers opens on June 15th of each year.

Under the FCC's rules, providers of digital mobile wireless services and manufacturers of wireless handsets must file annual reports on their offering of handsets that are compatible with hearing aids. These reports contain information about the hearing aid compatibility status of each handset offered, functionalities of hearing aid-compatible handsets, labeling of hearing aid-compatible handsets, and the filing company's consumer outreach efforts. 

Current reports as well as prior reports can be viewed at the hearing aid compatibility page.

Additional information about hearing aid compatibility is available in a fact sheet and an encyclopedia article.

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Broadband Speed: FCC Data Is Improving the Market

by Joel Gurin, Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
December 5, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:78:height=98,width=70]]As part of our Consumer Empowerment Agenda, the FCC has been taking action to ensure that consumers are getting the information they need to make informed decisions.  Our efforts to combat bill shock are one recent example, where we worked out a landmark agreement with the wireless industry to alert consumers before they are charged overage fees.  The residential broadband market is another area where consumers may be faced with decisions they don’t have adequate information to make.  Signing up for broadband—high-speed Internet—service can been a real challenge for consumers.  To be an informed shopper for any service, you have to know what will best meet your needs, and you have to know that service providers will deliver what they advertise.

When it comes to broadband, consumers are often in the dark on both counts. Many people are still puzzling out exactly how many megabits per second (Mbps) they need for web surfing, gaming, or streaming video. And, until recently, there was little information available about whether broadband providers actually delivered the speeds they promised.

The FCC has taken on this issue, beginning with the basic question: Are broadband providers delivering the speeds they promise to consumers?  For a year, we worked with an expert technical consulting group, advisers from academia and consumer organizations, and a collaborative of representatives from industry to conduct the first nationwide scientific study of home broadband service.  Almost 7,000 consumer volunteers across the country used hardware to monitor their broadband performance continuously for several months, providing close to 160 million points of data used for analysis.  This study measured the performance of 13 major broadband providers, covering 86 percent of wireline residential broadband consumers.

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EEO Best Practices Summit

by Daniel Margolis, OCBO Attorney Advisor
December 5, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:345:]]Are you an FCC broadcast licensee or MVPD operator concerned about your EEO responsibilities?  Each year approximately five percent of all licensees in the television and radio services will be randomly selected for an EEO audit.  On January 4, 2012, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO) along with the Policy Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau, will host a summit discussing best practices and compliance issues with the FCC’s Equal Employment Opportunity rules.  The summit will provide impacted regulatees, broadcasters and MVPDs, with insight from Commission staff as well as representatives from other regulated entities. 

As part of its efforts to assist small, women- and minority-owned communications businesses, OCBO will be hosting a series of panels with representatives from a wide cross section of regulated entities.  Panelists will give interested parties a summary of the relevant regulations and will discuss various industry best-practices for achieving viewpoint diversity through broad outreach and recruitment. 

The morning event will consist of two separate panels.  The first panel will feature FCC officials who are responsible for oversight of the Commission’s EEO program and practitioners who have counseled broadcasters and MVPDs on creating and maintaining FCC compliant EEO programs.  The second panel, will feature representatives from regulated entities who will present their perspectives on daily compliance issues that they face on an ongoing basis. 

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