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Official FCC Blog

March, 2012

The Women’s Initiative: Going Mobile and Connecting Women

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
February 15, 2012

I am proud to announce that the FCC's International Bureau has launched a new Women’s Initiative which will leverage the experience, resources, and connections of the international ICT community to improve the status of women, their communities, and their countries.

During my trip to East Africa in 2011, I saw first hand the potential power of ICT collaboration and its impact on women and their communities. The same realities were true during my trips to Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia the year before where I saw the exponential increase in the usage of mobile phones in Africa and the doors that connectivity open for users. Our hope is to use the Women’s Initiative as a means of promoting mobile applications, connecting mobile application creators, and encouraging the creation of new mobile applications specifically targeted to women. We want this Women’s Initiative to help the global community make applications more flexible and adaptable to the changing technological needs of women. We hope to connect leaders at various companies, government agencies and NGOs in order to leverage resources to improve the lives of women. 

During my travels in Africa, I also had the incredible opportunity to meet with key NGOs like the Southern African NGO Network, which is already promoting the strategic use of ICTs for socio-economic development and poverty eradication in that part of the world. In addition to that, we anticipate facilitating women’s access to useful and practical applications through this effort.

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The Women’s Initiative: Going Mobile and Connecting Women

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
February 15, 2012

I am proud to announce that the FCC's International Bureau has launched a new Women’s Initiative which will leverage the experience, resources, and connections of the international ICT community to improve the status of women, their communities, and their countries.

During my trip to East Africa in 2011, I saw first hand the potential power of ICT collaboration and its impact on women and their communities. The same realities were true during my trips to Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia the year before where I saw the exponential increase in the usage of mobile phones in Africa and the doors that connectivity open for users. Our hope is to use the Women’s Initiative as a means of promoting mobile applications, connecting mobile application creators, and encouraging the creation of new mobile applications specifically targeted to women. We want this Women’s Initiative to help the global community make applications more flexible and adaptable to the changing technological needs of women. We hope to connect leaders at various companies, government agencies and NGOs in order to leverage resources to improve the lives of women.

During my travels in Africa, I also had the incredible opportunity to meet with key NGOs like the Southern African NGO Network, which is already promoting the strategic use of ICTs for socio-economic development and poverty eradication in that part of the world. In addition to that, we anticipate facilitating women’s access to useful and practical applications through this effort.

Read more »

New Features and Enhancements for FCC.gov

by David Robbins, Managing Director
February 14, 2012

David Robbins

Just as the Internet is in a state of constant evolution, a good website must be in a constant state of innovation.  Since the launch of the redesigned FCC.gov last spring, we have continued to roll out new site features and enhancements. The daily work is informed by feedback from an array of audiences – legal practitioners, consumers, telecom professionals and elected officials, to name a few – as well as by best practices in the federal Web community and the broader Internet.

Two months ago, we announced the launch of MyFCC in beta, a companion site to FCC.gov that lets individual users create their own FCC online experience, with quick access to the tools and information they need. Today, I thought I would take the opportunity to update you on a number of more recent developments, and to again invite your feedback and suggestions.

These include:

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Expanding Broadband and Protecting Voice Service in Rural America

February 8, 2012

Sharon Gillett

Improving communications in rural America has always been a focus for the FCC, and the primary vehicle to achieve that goal has been the Universal Service Fund.  Despite great strides in this arena, one area where rural America still lagged the rest of the country was access to broadband.  Eighteen million Americans still have no high-speed Internet, and millions live, work, and travel in areas without mobile broadband coverage.  To address this gap, we took on the massive, once-in-a-generation task of retooling our rural subsidy system, creating the Connect America Fund to finish the job of connecting rural America to broadband, while bringing accountability and fiscal responsibility to programs that for too long lacked both.  We’re moving forward aggressively to implement these important changes.

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Smart Government Fixes for Lifeline

by Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
February 7, 2012

Sharon Gillett

These past few months have been especially proud ones for me at the Federal Communications Commission for one very simple reason: I have had the privilege of being part of a team that put the principles of smart government to work.  Yesterday, the Commission released a bipartisan Order comprehensively reforming the Lifeline program, the culmination of months of effort to clean-up and modernize this vital program.

Lifeline is a program that helps low-income Americans afford phone service by providing them with a monthly discount on their phone bills, averaging $9.25, paid for by our universal service fund. The program has been around since 1985, and over that time, the percentage of low-income families with phones has increased from 80% to nearly 92%.  But the program’s problems have also increased, especially after the Commission in 2008 made it easier for pre-paid wireless providers to participate.

The pre-paid services proved very popular, in part because the companies priced their plans so the Lifeline subsidy covered the whole bill, allowing them to advertise “free” phones.  Unfortunately, Lifeline’s rules were built for the kitchen phone, not the cell phone. As a result, some consumers got multiple subsidized phones – something that didn’t happen in the hard-wired wall phone days.   Some companies were enrolling consumers who weren’t eligible.  Some companies were collecting a $30 bounty every time they signed someone up..

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Understanding Maps at the Federal Communications Commission

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
February 3, 2012

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Last October, the FCC quietly deployed a new section to fcc.gov.  The section, http://www.fcc.gov/maps, translates complex policy into understandable stories for consumers.   Our maps are a fresh approach to internet mapping and help to advance our goal of open government.  Here’s a little insight to the why and how are doing this... 

At the FCC we rely on data to manage and understand complex issues.  We have extensive enterprise data and lengthy legal descriptions of each of their current landscapes, changes in regulations, and effect of these changes.  In many cases, our data on any one of these topics contains millions of records of database licenses or regulatory actions.  Descriptions of our actions are primarily available through public notices, rule makings and formal orders.  

We are always working to ensure that all consumers are able to understand our work to unleash the opportunities of broadband for all Americans.  That’s where good mapping can make a big difference. 

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FCC Chairman: Digital Textbooks to All Students in Five Years

February 3, 2012

Chairman Genachowski and Secretary DuncanWednesday, at the first-ever Digital Learning Day Town Hall in Washington, DC, FCC Chairman Genachowski and Secretary of Education Duncan challenged states and the education and technology industries to get digital textbooks into the hands of all students in five years. Barriers to adoption of digital textbooks include: antiquated state procurement rules, lack of device and content interoperability, and connectivity costs. 

Six months ago, Genachowski and Duncan launched an effort with business and education leaders to help schools make the transition to digital textbooks. At yesterday’s event, this collaborative presented them with the “Digital Textbook Playbook,” a resource for schools making the move to digital learning.  As a next step, Genachowski and Duncan announced a meeting in March 2012 with education CEOs, state officials, and nonprofit leaders to advance the national adoption of digital textbooks.

The FCC has been working since the 1990s, via its E-Rate program, to connect every library and classroom in America to the Internet. Now it is time for the next broadband-enabled learning revolution; digital textbooks offer lessons personalized to students’ learning styles and aptitudes that enable real-time data and feedback to parents and teachers. Key facts:

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