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Official FCC Blog

December, 2012

FCC and Public-Private Partners Launch Smartphone Security Checker to Help Consumers Protect Mobile Devices This Holiday Season

December 17, 2012 - 03:33 PM

More than 20 million Americans will unwrap a new mobile device this holiday season, but most smartphone users admit they don’t know how to protect themselves from mobile security threats. With mobile cyber attacks increasing every year (threats increased 367% in 2011), it’s important that consumers stay protected against growing risks such as viruses, malicious apps, and mobile device theft.

To assist the more than 120 million American smartphone owners, today the FCC launched the Smartphone Security Checker, an online tool to arm consumers with security steps customized by mobile operating system. The tool is the result of a public-private partnership between government experts, smartphone developers, and private IT and security companies. Partners include DHS, NCSA, FTC, CTIA, Lookout, BlackBerry, Chertoff Group, Sophos, McAfee, Symantec, and others. The smartphone Security Checker is available at www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “With less than half of smartphone owners using passwords to protect their devices, this new tool will be of particular value to millions of Americans. The holiday gift-giving season is a perfect time to remind consumers to take simple steps, like setting a password, to protect themselves from mobile security threats.”

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Learning to Think Critically: Girls and Digital Literacy Skills

December 14, 2012 - 03:34 PM

WISENET (Women in ICTs Shared Excellence Network) is the International Bureau’s convening platform that aims to leverage the experience, resources and connections of the international ICT community to better the situation of women, their communities and their countries. As part of this work, the FCC has invited prominent women and men in technology from around the world to post blogs sharing their experiences.

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Imagine going through 12+ years of school and then being told that you don't have the skills necessary for a job.

The founder and CEO of a global IT company based in India told me that there were plenty of people being trained in his country, but there were few that he would be willing to hire. The “reason,” he claimed, they didn’t have the skills necessary to compete in the global business economy.  In my research, I have had countless experiences watching students in East Africa, India and the United States memorizing and regurgitating information rather than being taught critical thinking, problem solving, and ways to communicate ideas effectively. These transferable skills are often missing in educational systems, but are essential to innovate and compete in a global workforce.

For technology corporations like Intel, a properly trained workforce is the foundation of our business and ability to innovate. That is why skills development is a key component of Intel's education strategies – whether that’s equipping young people with digital or information literacy skills, or training teachers to use technology to deliver 21st century learning skills.

Unfortunately, access to skills training is unequal – poor young women are least likely to have skills to become a productive force in the economy. 

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FCC Begins Search for Health Care Director and Launches New Health Website

by Jordan Usdan and Maya Uppaluru, Public-Private Initiatives
December 13, 2012 - 11:16 AM

Today, the FCC posted the official vacancy announcement for a Director of Health Care Initiatives. In September, Chairman Genachowski announced that the FCC would soon undertake a search for a new position to coordinate the agency’s numerous health care technology related initiatives, in response to a recommendation by the mHealth Task Force

Filling this position is an important step in the FCC’s ongoing mission to expand access to health care applications through wired and wireless broadband.  The Director of Health Care Initiatives will lead the agency’s efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of health care for all citizens and help reduce health care costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities have required connectivity.

The Director of Health Care Initiatives will push forward on the many continuing health-related initiatives at the FCC, including:

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FCC Chairman Hosts Second Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility

by Rebecca Lockhart, Outreach Specialist, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
December 12, 2012 - 01:06 PM

Technology continues to advance rapidly in today's fast paced world.  Smart phones and tablets are being sold in numbers that increase exponentially each year, and innovation is thriving at the same speed.  What is particularly exciting is the advancement of communications technologies that enhance the lives of people with disabilities.  The Accessibility and Innovation Initiative at the Federal Communications Commission has an ongoing goal to recognize outstanding private and public sector ventures in such accessibility and innovation.

Chairman Julius Genachowski is holding the second Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA) to honor engineers, researchers and other technologists who contribute to technological innovation for people with disabilities in communication-related areas. 

At last year's award ceremony, Chairman Genachowski stated "harnessing the power of technology to benefit all Americans is at the core of the FCC's mission."  This mission is especially critical when it comes to accessibility.  Empowering persons with disabilities and giving them tools to participate through new technologies enriches their lives and makes the possibilities for their future advancement seem endless.

This year's award winners were chosen in six different categories: Consumer Empowerment Information; Mobile Applications; Civic Participation Solutions; Education: College or University; Video Programming; and Geo-Location Solutions.  In addition to the winners in each of these categories, two honorable mentions will also be recognized.  

The winners of this year’s Chairman’s AAA are:

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FCC Announces Availability of Connect America Cost Model (Version 1)

by Julie A. Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
December 11, 2012 - 10:34 AM

Today we’re announcing the availability of the first version of the Connect America Cost Model.  At the end of our public process, it will become the cost model the Bureau relies on to decide how to distribute up to $9 billion in Connect America funding in price cap areas to support the provision of voice service and build-out of broadband-capable networks in rural America.  This is a significant milestone in our implementation of the USF/ICC Transformation Order

Today’s model is the first of what are likely to be several versions; it was developed to allow testing of multiple scenarios and does not incorporate policy decisions at this point.   With the help of comment from the public, we will make adjustments and changes until we adopt the final model in the coming months.   The model is available to be examined and tested by any interested party pursuant to the procedures specified in the Protective Order that the Bureau released today.  (Instructions on how to access the model can be found at: http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/caf-phase-ii-models). 

We will press forward to implement Connect America Phase II and will continue to seek public input through each phase of this process.  We look forward to hearing from you. 

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Connect America Cost Model Platform

December 10, 2012 - 04:00 PM

Please provide comments to the issue below as part of the 2012 WCB cost model virtual workshop for inclusion in the record. Comments are moderated for conformity to the workshop's guidelines.

Background

On December 11, 2012, WCB announced the availability of version one of the Connect America Cost Model. Version one of the model provides the ability to calculate costs using a variety of different inputs and assumptions, allowing the Bureau to choose among different network deployments to serve funded locations (e.g., fiber to the premises or fiber-fed digital subscriber line), different assumptions about the amount of existing facilities assumed to exist (e.g., green-field or brown-field deployments, the mix of aerial, buried or underground plant), as well as different assumptions about unit costs for capital and operating expenses.

While version one of the Connect America Cost Model is similar to the CQBAT model submitted into the record by the ABC Coalition, it contains a number of key differences, including an estimate of the cost of providing not only broadband services, but also voice services, and an updated calculation of brown-field costs to include replacement capital expenditures. The Bureau anticipates that a second version of the Connect America Cost Model will be available in the coming weeks and will include an update to 2010 census geographies and updated SBI data. The Bureau expects to adopt the final version of the Connect America Cost Model, with specific inputs, in 2013, which it will use to set Phase II support amounts to be offered to price cap carriers.

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Calculating Average Per-Unit Costs/Take Rate

December 10, 2012 - 02:00 PM

Please provide comments to the issue below as part of the 2012 WCB cost model virtual workshop for inclusion in the record. Comments are moderated for conformity to the workshop's guidelines.

Background

Hybrid Cost Proxy Model: The HCPM calculated the average cost-per-line in use by dividing the total cost of serving current customer locations within a wire center by the number of lines in use, as determined by National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA) data. Because it used current lines, the Commission used the number of households (i.e., occupied housing units) as a proxy for current residential customer locations, rather than the number of housing units (i.e., occupied and unoccupied housing units). At the time, the Commission observed that "as long as there is consistency in the development of total lines and total cost, it makes little difference whether households or housing units are used in determining cost per line."

The Commission found that if it were to calculate the cost of a network that would serve all potential customers, it would not be consistent to calculate average cost-per-line by using current demand, and it declined to estimate future demand because "[t]he level and source of future demand . . . is uncertain." The Commission was "concerned that including such a highly speculative cost . . . may not reflect forward-looking cost and may perpetuate a system of implicit support."

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Assigning Shared Costs

December 10, 2012 - 12:00 PM

Please provide comments to the issue below as part of the 2012 WCB cost model virtual workshop for inclusion in the record. Comments are moderated for conformity to the workshop's guidelines.

Background

The Commission required that the HCPM calculate the average cost of serving lines to at least the wire center level. The USF/ICC Transformation Order requires that the Connect America Phase II cost model be capable of calculating cost "on a census block or smaller basis"—a much more granular level.

Connect America Cost Model: To allocate costs within a census block, the first version of the CACM (CACM v.1) uses a "cost causation" allocation method where the fraction of shared costs is allocated according to the number of customers attached to each line.

In the Model Design Public Notice, the Bureau proposed to model the costs associated with the entire network, and then assign shared costs between eligible and ineligible areas. The Bureau sought comment on the appropriate methodology for allocating costs between these areas. The Bureau noted in the Model Design Public Notice that cost allocations can be problematic, and the "subtractive" method—determining the costs of supported areas by taking the cost of both supported and unsupported areas and then subtracting the cost of the unsupported areas—could be too complicated to calculate. Although some commenters urged the Bureau to adopt the subtractive approach, none have proposed a computationally tractable method for actually implementing such an approach.

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Designing for Women: The Mobile Challenge

by Christopher Burns, Economic Growth and Agricultural Development Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development
December 6, 2012 - 10:20 AM

WISENET (Women in ICTs Shared Excellence Network) is the International Bureau’s convening platform that aims to leverage the experience, resources and connections of the international ICT community to better the situation of women, their communities and their countries. As part of this work, the FCC has invited prominent women and men in technology from around the world to post blogs sharing their experiences.

Imagine if you picked up a smartphone and didn’t know how to use it.  The frustration of of holding such a powerful device in the palm of your hand but not being able to use it could be enormous.  For many technically illiterate women in the developing world, navigating a smartphone or even a more basic feature phone is a real challenge.

Based on research performed in Egypt, India, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, as part of the GSMA mWomen Program, we know that on average, resource-poor women are 22% less likely to want a mobile phone because they would not know how to use it.  Yet we also know from other GSMA research that mobile phones afford women critical entrepreneurial opportunities, security, and a greater sense of family connection.

Mobile phone use in the developing world is exploding, yet women in these countries are at a high risk of being left behind, missing out on opportunities and services from education to healthcare.  Making the user experience easier would open up a multitude of possibilities.

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Media Ownership: Going the Extra Mile for Transparency

by Bill Lake, Chief, Media Bureau
December 3, 2012 - 06:02 PM

For over two years, the Commission has welcomed public input in our pending Quadrennial Review of our broadcast ownership rules.  We began with the first of six public workshops on November 2, 2009 and continued by inviting two rounds of comments on a Notice of Inquiry released on May 25, 2010 and two further rounds of comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on December 22, 2011.  We offered opportunities to comment on eleven economic studies we commissioned in 2010 and released for public review in July 2011, and we have accepted and continue to accept numerous ex parte submissions expressing a range of views throughout the proceeding.  This process stands in contrast to the Commission’s 2006 Quadrennial Review, where the Third Circuit criticized the Commission for failing to offer detailed rule proposals in the NPRM, issuing new proposals via Op-Ed/Press Release, and giving the public insufficient time to provide input on the new proposals.  Indeed, the same court opinion praised our current process even in its early stages, noting that the NOI alone contained a significant amount of specifics.

The Media Bureau released a report on November 14, 2012 about the ownership of commercial broadcast stations. This report provides, for the first time ever, detailed information by race, ethnicity, and gender about ownership of commercial television and radio stations.  The report was made possible by the Commission’s revamping of its Form 323 broadcast ownership report to enable the collection in electronic form of information about all attributable owners of these stations.  Data were first collected via the new form as of November 1, 2009 and again as of October 1, 2011.  Further biennial filings will enable the Commission for the first time to track ownership trends in a systematic way.

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