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Official FCC Blog

September, 2013

For researchers, useful datasets and potential questions

by Irene S. Wu, Senior Analyst, Policy Division, International Bureau
September 27, 2013

At the Federal Communications Commission, we publish a large amount of information and data, much of it potentially useful for research projects.  However, the FCC’s information is organized in ways that facilitate rulemakings, not research; and for those not directly involved in rulemakings, it can be difficult to find the most useful resources, even though the information is public.  To help researchers, today we are releasing a list of questions that we hope will pique the interest of researchers in the US and around the world, along with some tips as to where the public data already exist.  The list includes

  • Public datasets that could be used by researchers, such as
    • Broadcasting ownership data
    • International traffic data
    • Broadband performance data
    • Consumer complaints
  • Public information that could be used to build a dataset, such as
    • 911 calls
    • Consumer lookup tools
  • Research questions touching on issues such as
    • Interpreting broadband service quality and performance
    • Network configuration options for schools
    • Price elasticity studies for international calls
    • IP-to-IP international calling
    • Cloud computing

Of course, any efforts expended by researchers to address these topics are completely voluntary, and no funding has been obligated or is expected to be obligated for any contractual undertakings.  We hope this will continue the long and fruitful dialogue the FCC has had with the research community and generate new ideas and insights that will benefit public policy in the future.

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Providing Relief for the Families of Inmates From the High Cost of Staying in Touch

by Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
September 26, 2013

Today, the Commission released an Order that will provide meaningful relief to millions of Americans who have borne the financial burden of unjust and unreasonable interstate inmate calling service (ICS) rates.  These reforms are the right thing to do.  Our actions will increase inmates’ ability to stay in contact with their families and loved ones—including the 2.7 million children with an incarcerated parent.  That increased contact reduces recidivism, which benefits all of us through safer communities and by reducing the expense of incarcerating the re-offenders.  In fact, one study notes that a 1% reduction in recidivism would lead to $250 million in annual cost savings.   

The ICS rates that spurred us to act are high.  In one case, the cost of a 15-minute call is $17.50—about $1.15 per minute.  The Order we released today is a major step toward fulfilling our statutory obligation to ensure that rates for all consumers are just, reasonable and fair. 

Let’s take a look at the reforms:

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The Low Power FM Application Window Is Fast Approaching

by Bill Lake, Media Bureau Chief
September 19, 2013

***Due to the Government-wide lapse in funding the webinar date and LPFM Open Filing Window Deadline have changed. Please see "Updated: The Low Power FM Application Window Is Fast Approaching" for the correct dates.***

Second, remember that, while you do not need a 501(c)(3) certification, you must be organized as a nonprofit educational institution, corporation, or entity under your State’s laws, as of the date of the application filing, to be eligible to apply for an LPFM license.  In other words, if you have only recently filed your incorporation papers and have not received confirmation as of October 29, you will not be eligible to apply. 

Third, we will permit organizations in a community to work together to file a single Form 318 application.  Alternatively, organizations in a community could apply separately – for the same or different frequency – knowing that they may decide later to aggregate points so they can negotiate a time-share agreement if the Commission determines that they are tied with the highest point total in the same mutually exclusive group.  (Applications are mutually exclusive if they are filed in the same window and the simultaneous operation of the proposed stations would result in one, or more, stations causing objectionable interference to another.)

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FCC Celebrates National Health IT Week

by Matthew Quinn, Director of Healthcare Initiatives
September 16, 2013

The week of September 16-20, 2013 is National Health Information Technology (IT) Week.  National Health IT Week celebrates the efforts that have been made—and are being made—in the transformation of how care is delivered and paid for and how patients engage in their own health and health care http://www.healthit.gov/healthitweek/.

At the FCC, we’re joining public and private stakeholders in raising awareness of the role of Health Information Technology’s power to improve the health and health care of patients all across the nation, and at lower cost.

To highlight its efforts in supporting health IT innovation, the FCC is participating in a variety of activities during National Health IT Week including:

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Demonstration of Innovative Accessibility Technology at FCC on Sept. 12

by Kelly Jones, Outreach Specialist, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
September 9, 2013

Would you like to see live demonstrations about new and exciting technologies designed to enhance accessibility?  The FCC will be hosting several such demonstrations in conjunction with its Accessibility and Innovation Initiative speaker series.  Some of these demos will show how a smartphone can scan printed material into electronic text, how a web-browsing assistant can extract news articles for later reading, and how cloud computing can enhance accessibility for all.

At the second event in this speaker series, we are pleased to welcome guest speaker Dr. Yevgen Borodin, a renowned professor and entrepreneur, who is known for his research in the field of computational methods and non-visual interfaces for improving Web accessibility.  Dr. Borodin will be discussing “Improving Accessibility for the General Public.”

Additional details about Dr. Borodin’s presentation can be found at the following events page:
http://www.fcc.gov/events/accessibility-innovation-initiative-speaker-series-presents-yevgen-borodin-improving-accessib. His presentation starts at 10 a.m.

Following Dr. Borodin’s presentation, there will be technological demonstrations in our Technology Experience Center (TEC) in the FCC library from 1:00pm – 3:00pm.  The afternoon demos will showcase accessible technology solutions that illustrate topics of the morning’s presentation. 

The following TEC demos are now scheduled:

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A New Step in Promoting Safety and Innovation in Healthcare IT

by Matthew Quinn, Director of FCC Health Care Initiatives
September 6, 2013

The FCC is committed to accelerating the adoption and innovation of health information technology (health IT) through wired and wireless broadband.  Health IT tools such as electronic health records, mobile health applications and mobile body area networks (MBANS) hold great potential to improve health outcomes and lower healthcare costs.

The Commission has worked closely with federal partners like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to achieve these goals.

Last year, Congress called for the FDA to work with FCC and ONC to provide recommendations for a regulatory framework for health IT that promotes safety and innovation and reduces regulatory duplication. Specifically, this call for recommendations was called for in section 618 of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, otherwise known as FDASIA.

Earlier this week, we achieved an important milestone. A working group of ONC's federal advisory committee released its recommendations on this framework: The Path Toward a Risk-Based Regulatory Framework for Health IT. The workgroup, which included participation from the FCC, formed to obtain broad stakeholder input from across the health care, IT, patients and innovation spectrum. Our three agencies were active participants in these discussions and learned a great deal from them.

The FCC looks forward to continuing to work with FDA and ONC to develop final recommendations to Congress by January 2014.

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