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Official FCC Blog

July, 2013

AAPI Roundtable

by Celeste McCray, Asian American Outreach Team
July 26, 2013

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau’s Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division is responsible for reaching out to many of our underserved communities. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve. 

Toward that end, on Monday, July 22, 2013, we were pleased to host the first roundtable for leaders of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at the FCC’s headquarters.  We were honored that Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn opened the roundtable, which was also attended by Commissioner Ajit Pai who is now the Commission’s representative on the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.  FCC policy makers gave presentations relevant to this community:  low-power community FM radio stations; small business opportunities; Lifeline; broadband; digital literacy; health initiatives; public private partnerships; connect2compete; Everyone On; [MW2] incentive auctions; and many consumer issues such as bill shock and cramming.

The ensuing discussions between the participants and FCC speakers were lively and intense, so much so that our meeting ran over the allotted time!  But it was time well spent because the FCC and leaders of the AAPI community forged a partnership that envisions an overarching framework of information exchanges to be supplemented by smaller committees to achieve specific goals – such as how to better address the need for culturally sensitive outreach materials in multiple languages.  

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FCC Releases New Incentive Auction Repacking Information

by Julius Knapp, Chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology
July 22, 2013

Today, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force released a Public Notice that seeks input on certain data and updated computer software relevant to the repacking component of the upcoming incentive auction. 

Repacking is one of three major components of the FCC’s incentive auction, along with the reverse and forward auctions.  It refers to the process of reassigning broadcast TV channels to free up contiguous blocks of spectrum for mobile broadband use.

The notice and accompanying materials released today includes the results of a preliminary analysis of whether any particular television station could be assigned or reassigned to particular channels in the incentive auction repacking process, consistent with statutory and other requirements.  This information and analysis will permit broadcasters to validate the accuracy of the information regarding their stations or facilities contained in the FCC’s databases, to ensure that the staff has correctly identified all relevant constraints on repacking.  It also provides an opportunity for broadcasters to evaluate the range of channels to which they could be repacked consistent with the requirements of the Spectrum Act and the Commission’s rules if they are not a “winning bidder” in the incentive auction.

 This release was driven by the Commission’s continuing focus on transparency and desire to receive input from all interested parties.  Over the coming weeks and months, the public will have the opportunity to use this information, along with additional elements of the repacking process that we intend to make available, to better understand and to provide feedback on the work that our engineering and auction design experts have been doing.  Those additional elements include how we will select bids, how we will assign channels, and algorithms for carrying out these and other elements of the repacking process.

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Accessibility and Innovation Initiative Debuts Speaker Series

by Rebecca Lockhart, Outreach Specialist, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
July 12, 2013

The FCC’s Accessibility & Innovation Initiative has a goal of bringing awareness and recognition to the creation and advancement of accessible communication technologies for people with disabilities by promoting collaborative problem-solving among academic, industry, consumer, and government sectors.  We have hosted several events at FCC Headquarters to promote our efforts including the “Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility” and a “Developing with Accessibility” event

We are very excited about the launch of this speaker series on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 and are honored to have Clayton Lewis, Professor of Computer Science and Fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado, as our first special guest. A full description of the event and more details about Dr. Lewis can be found here

In addition, there will be a technology showcase reflecting the themes of the morning’s presentation and exhibitors will be demonstrating their accessible technology solutions.  These demonstrations will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the FCC's Technology Experience Center (TEC).  The TEC is open to the public and offers a unique, hands-on opportunity for visitors to experiment with new technologies.  

The four demonstrations will include:

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Preparing for Text-to-911

July 1, 2013

For the millions of Americans who use text messaging on their wireless phones, it may come as a surprise that you typically can’t reach 911 by text message. That is beginning to change, however.

Text-to-911 service is currently available on a limited basis in a few locations across the country. Itcan provide a lifesaving alternative in many situations – where a person with a hearing or speech disability is unable to make a voice call, where voice networks are congested, or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller. In fact, it has already saved lives and thwarted crimes, including preventing a suicide in Vermont and, in Iowa, protecting women and children from abuse who were silently able to text for help.  

To build on that progress, the four largest U.S. wireless companies – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon – have voluntarily committed to make text-to-911 available by May 15, 2014, in all areas served by their networks where the local 911 call center has the technical capability to receive texts.  

In addition, the FCC has sought comment on proposed rules to require all wireless carriers and “interconnected” text message providers to likewise make text-to-911 available where the 911 call center has the technical capability to receive texts. 

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