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Official FCC Blog

June, 2013

A Band Plan that Serves the Public Interest

by Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
June 21, 2013

The FCC’s incentive auction task force is making progress towards holding the world’s first incentive auction in 2014 which will free up valuable spectrum for mobile broadband use across the country.

Over the past few weeks, the Commission has received significant input from parties representing a range of viewpoints on the type of band plan we should adopt when we re-pack the 600MHz spectrum as part of the auction.  

Each addition to the record increases our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of this ground-breaking process and helps to ensure we act in the public interest.  We are grateful for the input. 

At last count, there were over a dozen proposed band plans in our record.  While some differ substantially, many seem at a high level to be quite similar - and without close review may even give the misleading impression that a “consensus” has in fact been reached.  But we all know that the devil is in the details, and in reality the proposed plans are dissimilar in notable respects.

A number of commenters support band plans that are in the “Down from 51” family.  But some plans would limit paired licensed spectrum to 50 MHz http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426215, while others call for a larger number of paired bands http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426525, http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426263.  Some plans accommodate market variation by including television stations in the duplex gap in limited areas http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426525, http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426263, while others say there should be no market variation at all http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022426141. 

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Hitting the Ground Running with the Lifeline Accountability Database

by Kimberly Scardino, Chief, Telecommunications Access Policy Division
June 20, 2013

Nearly 600 participants logged onto our webinar yesterday demonstrating a key component of our comprehensive reforms to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in the FCC’s Lifeline program: the National Lifeline Accountability Database.  The database will ensure compliance with one of our most important rules to protect the integrity of the program: limiting Lifeline benefits to one subscription per household.  By harnessing communications and information technology to enforce this rule, the Commission will protect the universal service fund and the consumers who pay into it, promote fairness to beneficiaries and companies who play by the rules, and reduce the burden on providers.

My colleagues at the FCC, along with representatives from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and the database vendor, shared information about the database and answered questions to ensure that Lifeline providers, states, consumers and others users can hit the ground running once the database is online.  We will conduct training workshops and additional outreach to ensure all interested parties are prepared for the database.

Implementation of the database will begin in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma and Washington this fall, with other states to follow shortly thereafter.  Importantly, USAC will “scrub” the subscriber information to eliminate duplicates BEFORE loading it into the database. The database will be operational by the end of the year and going forward will permanently detect and prevent duplicative Lifeline support before a consumer enrolls in the Lifeline program.

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FCC Hosts a Power-Packed Conference on Angel Investing for Small, Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

by Calvin Osborne, Attorney Advisor
June 18, 2013

On July 11, 2013, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m, the FCC‘s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (“OCBO”) will host an Access to Capital Conference and Workshop focusing on telecommunications and technology-related businesses interested in obtaining funding from angel investors.  This conference, which includes one on one breakout sessions, will be held at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street, Washington, DC on Thursday, July 11, 2013 from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm in the Commission Meeting Room. 

We have invited representatives from the angel investment community from across the country to discuss their investment strategies in the telecommunications, technology, and media-related industries.  Our panelists will examine what entrepreneurs need to know when seeking potential funding from angel investors and, once successful, how to navigate the investment relationship.     

The program will begin with a panel discussion from 9:00 am to 11:30 am.  The afternoon, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm, will feature one-on-one sessions between our panelists and any small business owners who would like individualized advice on angel investing and information on current funding opportunities. 

The goal of this program is to identify trends in angel investing, delve into the differences between angel investors and venture capitalists, and explain why would-be entrepreneurs should seek funding from angel investors rather than venture capitalists.  We will also highlight how angel investors select projects as well as the special challenges angel investors and entrepreneurs face in getting to an agreement. 

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Crossing the Digital Divide

by Mignon Clyburn, Acting Chairwoman
June 7, 2013

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My posts here at the FCC --first as a Commissioner and now as Acting Chair, have taken me across  the country, to other parts of the world – and occasionally, right over the bridge to Alexandria, Va.

That’s where I met a wonderful group of kids on June 2 at the Murraygate Village Community Center. Their energy eclipsed the enthusiasm shown by the many guests at their Boys and Girls Club. On a normal day, I was told they’d be poring over their homework in what Wonhee Kang, Fairfax County Regional Director of the Boys and Girls Club, dubs “The Power Hour.” But on this day, they broke their routine and welcomed guests like me who overflowed the modest facility to celebrate a major step forward in closing the digital divide. Cox Communications Virginia and Connect2Compete – along with a host of corporate, nonprofit, state, regional and local officials – were on hand to announce the launch of the collaborative initiative that aims to extend affordable broadband Internet access to all.

In my remarks, I noted that almost a year ago to the day, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was in San Diego, with Cox CEO Pat Esser, to launch the first-ever Connect2Compete pilot program, which made discounted broadband available to tens of thousands of southern California families. What a difference a year makes! Now I’m in the role of Acting Chair of the FCC and the Connect2Compete has made its way to Northern Virginia, where families will have the same opportunity to get online at a price that fits their budgets.

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Preparing for Hurricane Season

by David Turetsky, Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau
June 7, 2013

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and will last through November 30. While recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy are still underway, and we grapple with devastating tornadoes too, we must also prepare for the possibility of more hurricanes. And unfortunately, NOAA is forecasting an “active or extremely active” season this year.

A principal focus of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, which also draws on expertise from across the FCC, is to promote the reliability and resiliency of the nation’s communications infrastructure in times of disaster.

Communications services are vital to keeping us safe, informed and connected to our loved ones.   Broadcasters play a critical role in providing vital and timely information, and commercial phone service and broadband enable us to connect with 911 and our families. Our Nation’s First Responders rely on their own communications infrastructure to keep communities safe, but sometimes use the commercial infrastructure too.

That’s why I want to discuss preparation, by communications service providers and by the public.

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