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Official FCC Blog

May, 2013

Celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – Honoring our Partners and Building New Bridges For Collaboration and Outreach

by Diana Coho, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Specialist, Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau
May 20, 2013 - 02:00 PM

In June 1977, a House resolution called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Over time, additional resolutions passed and in 1992, the official designation of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month was signed into law. This year’s theme is: BUILDING LEADERSHIP: EMBRACE THE CULTURAL VALUES AND INCLUSION.  Click on the link below to see this year’s White House proclamation on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/30/presidential-proclamation-asian-american-and-pacific-islander-heritage-m.

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau works to build dynamic partnerships with the Asian American community. To that end, we have begun plans for an interactive dialogue among Asian American leaders with FCC leaders and subject matter experts to address stakeholder concerns and provide technical assistance.  This event will be announced and held sometime in the next few months – stay tuned to our website as more details are posted.  We also plan to expand our Asian American outreach to the Asian owned business community, another rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population that continues to contribute greatly to our economy.

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - Support Thresholds

May 17, 2013 - 10:55 AM

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

In the USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission adopted a methodology “that will target support to areas that exceed a specified cost benchmark, but not provide support for areas that exceed an 'extremely high cost' threshold.” With regard to the support benchmark, the Commission stated that it would use the model “to identify those census blocks where the cost of service is likely to be higher than can be supported through reasonable end-user rates alone.” With regard to the “extremely high cost” threshold, the Commission also concluded that "a small number of extremely high-cost census blocks that should receive funding specifically set aside for remote and extremely high-cost areas . . . rather than receiving CAF Phase II support." The Commission anticipated that no more than 1 percent of all American household would be in such remote and extremely high-cost areas. Finally, the Commission directed that "[t]he threshold should be set to maintain total support in price cap areas within our up to $1.8 billion annual budget.”

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - Connect America Fund-Intercarrier Compensation Recovery Mechanism Set Aside Amount

May 17, 2013 - 10:18 AM

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

In the USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission established an annual funding target of $4.5 billion for high-cost universal service support. Within the $4.5 billion budget, the Commission set aside up to $1.8 billion annually for a five-year period to support areas served by price cap carriers. This amount includes the support that price cap carriers receive through the Connect America Fund intercarrier compensation (CAF-ICC) recovery mechanism. The CAF-ICC recovery mechanism is an explicit support mechanism that replaces the implicit support previously received by carriers from carrier-to-carrier revenues.

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - Finalizing Input Values for Connect America Cost Model Cost Estimation Module

May 17, 2013 - 09:47 AM

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 Connect America Cost Model (CAM v3.1.2) has two input collections for the cost estimation module. The two input collections contain identical default inputs, except one includes values for Annual Charge Factors (ACFs) calculated with a nine percent cost of capital, and the other includes values for ACFs calculated with an eight percent cost of capital. Parties who have signed the Third Supplemental Protective Order will be able to view the input collections by accessing the model and viewing the “ICCQA20130516CAM312ACF8SBI6VoiceCblVoiceFW2” and “ICCQA20130516CAM312ACF9SBI6VoiceCblVoiceFW2” ZIP files on the “Posted Data Sets” page under “Model Inputs.” The input collections include values for such variables as plant mix, network sizing and sharing, company size categories, operating expenses, capital investments by density and terrain, state property tax factors, regional cost adjustments, bandwidth, business and residential take rate, and state sales tax.

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Setting the Right Incentives for Investment in Rural Broadband

by Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
May 16, 2013 - 03:41 PM

Today, the Wireline Bureau is seeking comment on a number of issues relating to broadband funding for smaller rural carriers, known as rate-of-return carriers.

One of the problematic results of the Commission’s old Universal Service System was what we called the rural-rural divide: because the system failed to target support where it was needed and provided little accountability, some rural communities received world-leading broadband, while others, often right next door, were left behind.  In part, this problem arose because of the different systems governing smaller, rate-of-return carriers, and larger companies, known as price cap carriers.

About two-thirds of all universal service support for landline service went to rate-of-return carriers, although they serve about 20-30% of the expensive rural areas where no other provider is offering voice and broadband, the areas where support is most likely needed.  In many cases, disparities arose because these smaller carriers serve some of the very hardest areas to reach or because they have been aggressively extending broadband where it wouldn’t otherwise reach.  But to a significant extent, the disparity simply had to do with regulatory distinctions, or arose because the old rules lacked safeguards or accountability. 

In order to help ensure all Americans get access to broadband while increasing efficiency and accountability -- no matter what kind of company serves an area -- we overhauled universal service and created the Connect America Fund.  These reforms required making support for all types of carriers more efficient and accountable. 

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How We’re Investing Smart To Expand Rural Broadband

by Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
May 16, 2013 - 11:44 AM

The Connect America Fund is the FCC’s 21st Century solution to expanding broadband to unserved areas of rural America.  One reason why the Connect America Fund can stay within a budget as it accomplishes this task – while continuing to support traditional voice service as its 20th Century predecessor program did – is because we are targeting the right amount of subsidies to the right places: places where help is needed the most. The old universal service fund did little to protect against unneeded subsidies. Developing ways to stop this fiscal waste was a major focus of our 2011 Connect America reforms.

We are well on the way to implementing these reforms, including making initial decisions on a Cost Model that will calculate what level of support is needed, down to the Census block level.  Today, we’re adopting another set of policies to make sure that we don’t support providers in Census blocks where another provider is delivering service without subsidies.

It’s fiscally prudent to reserve the Fund for areas where there’s no business case to serve consumers. And it’s common sense that in areas where a provider delivers voice and broadband without subsidies, a business case has been made.  Moreover, giving subsidies to one provider and not the other is unfair.

So accounting for unsubsidized providers is critical as we distribute support for rural voice and broadband in this phase, Phase II, of the Connect America Fund.  Here’s how we are going to do it.

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DevEx Day: Developing Innovation at the FCC

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer, and Eric Spry, Deputy GIO, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
May 15, 2013 - 12:14 PM

We recently experimented with a new idea at FCC: giving a small team 24 hours to create something new on their own. We called this DevEx Day (referred to as either DevEx or FedEx Day). The name is a play on the brand name FedEx, where products need to be delivered in 24 hours, combined with a developer day. This innovative approach arose from the tech industry and has expanded into other sectors. The idea is that for 24 hours, participants work on something new and different from their normal work. It is a focused day of learning new skills or honing existing ones, guided only by the participant’s interest. The day starts with each team member explaining his or her project to the group. The next day, members present their finished products, which are reviewed by the group. And like its original namesake delivery company, participants must absolutely positively deliver overnight.

This approach forces participants to focus intensively. Collegial competition adds the impetus to “deliver”. During the DevEx Day, no meetings are scheduled, no calls are taken, and email stays closed for the team.

The results were terrific. Each member of the entire team delivered working software code, and nearly all published this code on the site, github.com using free and open source tools. Several of these projects have already guided larger projects at FCC, and all have inspired new ideas from team members and reignited creative spark. Too rarely do the people writing the code have a say in the complete “stack” of the environment they are working with. DevEx Day puts them in the driver seat; we can learn a lot from where each driver takes us.

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Moving Forward with Technology Transitions Trials

by Sean Lev, General Counsel and Interim Director, Technology Transitions Task Force
May 10, 2013 - 12:59 PM

Today, the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force issued a Public Notice proposing to conduct real-world trials and seeking input on specific potential trials.  The goal of any trials will be to assist the Commission in ensuring that its policy decisions relating to ongoing technology transitions are solidly grounded in good data.

Communications networks are changing from copper to fiber and from time division multiplexing (TDM) to Internet protocols; wireless voice and data services are increasingly important.  These are exciting developments.  The ongoing technology transitions hold the promise for tremendous benefits for consumers.  Among other things, these new technologies can deliver higher quality service and higher speed broadband to more Americans.  IP-based networks also make it easier to deploy feature-rich next-generation 911 systems.   At the same time, we must ensure that the transitions preserve and advance the core values reflected in the Communications Act:  consumer protection, universal service, competition, and public safety.

To protect those core values, we need good data.  Indeed, Chairman Genachowski established the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force to “conduct a data driven review” as it formulates “recommendations to modernize the Commission’s policies.”  Accordingly, in March, the Task Force held a public workshop with experts from around the country.  The workshop focused on the capabilities and limitations of new and emerging technologies, the decisions consumers are making as they adopt voice and broadband services, and the plans of various providers in deploying the new technologies.

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Public Service: A Life of Commitment

by Roger Goldblatt, Associate Bureau Chief, CGB
May 10, 2013 - 11:34 AM

As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week this year, recognizing the hard work and best efforts of our federal, state, county, and local government employees, it gives me pause to reflect on my experience as a career public servant .  I have been fortunate to have worked in many great agencies, and have served under several White House administrations.  My job has enabled me to travel around the country and meet public servants in all corners of our 50 states.  It has also provided me with an opportunity to receive direct feedback from our citizens. I can find no words to convey how I feel when people of all cultures, backgrounds, and ages come up and say “thank you.”  I know they are not thanking just me, but the millions of public servants throughout the nation.

I recognize that, lately, it is a difficult time to be a public servant.  You’d think that the morale and efforts of those who serve the public would be dimmed, in light of the current environment.  However, as I look around at my coworkers and those I meet in other agencies, I see their lights shining as brightly as ever. Our public servants are as dedicated, passionate, and engaged as ever — working long hours, going the extra mile, and showing a level of caring for those that they serve.  I’m proud to work with such dedicated professionals.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

by Jamal Mazrui, Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative
May 9, 2013 - 03:19 PM

The FCC's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is pleased to commemorate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) today.  Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort dedicated to raising the profile and heightening awareness of digital accessibility to the broadest audience possible.

Over the years, Congress has designated the FCC as the federal agency responsible for implementing various laws intended to make communication technologies more accessible to people with disabilities.  This post highlights resources toward available on www.fcc.gov.  We will also be tweeting messages with the hashtag #GAAD.

The FCC's Disability Rights Office performs most of our work in this area, and our AccessInfo service distributes email announcements about FCC news on disability-access issues.  Information on how to subscribe can be found here: www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/join-accessinfo-email-list.

In addition, the FCC's Accessibility Clearinghouse is an online database of information about accessible technology solutions.  

Below you will find links to 25 Consumer Guides that we have prepared on disability-access issues.  We hope you find this information useful:

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