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March, 2013

3…2…1…EveryoneOn! Connect2Compete and the Ad Council Launch New Digital Literacy Campaign

by Kevin Almasy and Maya Uppaluru, Public Private Initiatives
March 21, 2013 - 11:07 AM

March 21 marks the launch of “EveryoneOn,” a nationwide public education campaign to help all Americans access technology through free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers.

In the 21st century workforce, it has never been more important to possess digital skills. Yet, more than 100 million Americans do not have a broadband connection at home, and 62 million do not use the Internet at all. Closing the digital divide is a critical issue for the country, and EveryoneOn is rising to meet the challenge.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “The costs of digital exclusion – of not having access to Internet at home–are rising every day. Offline Americans are missing out on opportunities in education, health care, and employment. I applaud the “EveryoneOn” campaign to onboard the millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide and deliver the digital literacy skills required to succeed in today’s economy.” 

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also voiced her support for EveryoneOn, stating: “While our nation’s digital divide is indeed shrinking, we must come to terms with the fact that a staggering 62 million Americans remain offline, severely limiting their access to critical information and vital services.  The benefits of connectivity are endless – you literally have the world at your fingertips. That is why I am excited about the potential of EveryoneOn, a new public education campaign powered by Connect2Compete, which meets non-digital natives where they are and encourages them to venture online where their natural skills may be enhanced and their day-to-day needs may be realized more efficiently.”

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Sunshine Week: Open Government and Transparency

by Sean Lev, General Counsel
March 15, 2013 - 04:09 PM

The week of March 11, 2013 is Sunshine Week-- a national initiative to celebrate and focus on government transparency and open government.  The FCC joins the Department of Justice in celebrating efforts to increase public participation in government.  As part of those efforts, we want to share some tips for filing FOIA requests.

As the FCC’s Chief FOIA Officer, I am responsible for oversight of the implementation of the FOIA at the Commission.  My 2013 Annual Report (posted earlier this week) cited the progress we have made in our handling of FOIA requests.  Since last year, we have fewer backlogged FOIA appeals and all ten of the oldest pending FOIA appeals have been addressed. And, importantly, access to agency records continues to improve in large part because of a greater effort to post materials of interest on the web.  For a list of frequently requested items please visit the FCC Electronic Reading Room

This last point is particularly important because the more the Commission posts on its website, the less the public needs to use FOIA to obtain records.  The statistics prove the point.  The number of initial FOIA requests we received declined by 15% from FY 2011 to FY 2012 and continues to decline during FY 2013.

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National Consumer Protection Week

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, CGB
March 5, 2013 - 04:26 PM

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) strives to make life better for the American consumer.  One way we work towards that goal is through partnerships like the one we have with the Federal Trade Commission in celebrating the 22nd Annual National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3-March 9, 2013.  National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. 

Here at the FCC, CGB is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies and for educating consumers about the work of the Commission.  We work diligently to ensure consumers have the information and tools available to help them make informed decisions.  For example, you can find consumer guides on our website on topics such as Cramming, Bill Shock, and Slamming.  Our Household Broadband Guide  can be used to compare minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate and high household use with one, two, three or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet or game console).  And you can compare typical online activities with the minimum Mbps needed for adequate performance for each application by using our Broadband Speed Guide.

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Attracting “Digital Natives” to ICT

by Vicki MacLeod, Consultant
March 4, 2013 - 04:41 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 Information and Communications Technology (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.

It is ironic that in today’s digital economy it is becoming more and more difficult to attract and retain students in traditional ICT course studies. So, just as ICT skills are becoming a fundamental part of our economy, young people, especially young women, are shunning formal computer science studies in favor of what are perceived to be ‘sexier’ science subjects like forensics or genetics. A 2012 report by an industry group in Australia put the existing shortage of skilled ICT professionals  in that country at approximately 8,500, while the European Commission has estimated that Europe will suffer a shortage of 700,000 ICT professionals by 2015.

So what is going on? Why has ICT lost its attraction for the generation of so-called digital natives, whose lives revolve around their smartphones, Facebook pages, and tweets?

Many studies have found that the ICT curriculum itself is one of the key reasons that students are no longer interested in a formal ICT education. The argument is that the curriculum has not kept pace with the skills and knowledge of the students, who tend to view keyboard based coding exercises with the same enthusiasm as a piano student views scales and arpeggios – necessary in the long-term perhaps, but in the short-term boring and repetitive.

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Tribal Radio Priority

by Geoffrey C. Blackwell, Chief, Office of Native Affairs and Policy
March 1, 2013 - 04:18 PM

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission established a Tribal Radio Priority to expand the number of radio stations owned by American Indian Tribes broadcasting to Tribal lands.  The Tribal Priority is a FCC rule through which Tribes or Tribally owned or controlled entities may more easily obtain broadcast radio licenses in both the AM and FM bands.  The Tribal Priority is intended not only to provide radio service tailored to specific Tribal needs and cultures, but to increase ownership of such radio stations by Tribes and Tribally owned entities.  In doing so, the Tribal Priority also fosters localism and diversity of ownership.

The need for Tribal radio stations is clear.  There are 566 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.  Approximately one-third of the 4.1 million Native American population lives on Tribal lands, which comprise over 55 million acres, or 2.3 percent of the area of the United States, exclusive of Alaska.  Despite this, fewer than 100 broadcast radio stations are licensed to Tribes or affiliated groups, a fraction of one percent of all radio station owners.  We have visited many parts of Indian Country and we have seen how people in Native Communities can benefit from radio – to prepare for and recover from emergencies, to preserve Native culture, language and music, and to convey important information to Tribal members.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski Honored By D.C. Chief of Police for Spearheading Fight against Smartphone Theft & Related Assaults

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
March 1, 2013 - 12:29 PM

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Last night, D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier honored Chairman Genachowski with the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award for spearheading efforts to combat massive nationwide smartphone theft and related assaults.

In April 2012, Chairman Genachowski joined major police department chiefs, including Chief Lanier, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Senator Chuck Schumer, and wireless carriers to announce an industry commitment to develop a shared, centralized database to record unique identifiers of stolen wireless devices in order to prevent reuse and make it harder for thieves to resell them.

I accepted the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award last night on behalf of Chairman Genachowski at Police Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony. (Chairman Genachowski is currently in California for the FCC’s Second National Hearing on Network Resilience and Reliability.)

As Chief Lanier explained, smartphone theft is a serious issue. In the District of Columbia, New York City, and other major cities, police say as much as 40 percent of all robberies now involve stolen cell phones and other small electronic devices.  These robberies endanger both the physical safety of victims as well as the safety of the information on the stolen devices.

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