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Sri Lanka and Singapore

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
November 29, 2012

This October, I was fortunate to travel to Asia, where I spent over a week meeting with regulators, industry groups, and business leaders from around the world.  This was not my first time representing the FCC abroad, but this trip took me on a journey through more time zones than I remember.  On the first leg, after leaving Washington on long trans-Atlantic flight, I arrived in Dubai – only to continue on to Qatar – before finally arriving in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city. 

In Sri Lanka I represented the United States at the 12th Global Symposium for Regulators.  Organized under the United Nations, the GSR provides a world-wide view on the telecommunications industry.  Meeting with other delegates I shared the United States’ perspective on regulation, the FCC’s role, and what is being done in our country to promote ICT development.  I noticed an important characteristic of the telecommunications industry – nations across the world are addressing many of the same issues and problems as one another.  As I continued to meet with representatives, I gained more knowledge from hearing the perspectives of other countries.  The symposium brought forth the obvious: the spread of technology has circumvented borders, crossed digital divides, and brought even the most remote nations to address common concerns at our international table.

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Protecting Your Cellphone and Smart Devices

by Keyla Hernández-Ulloa, Associate Division Chief, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
November 28, 2012

Now that the holiday season is upon us, it is important to remember to protect our cell phones and smart devices from theft or loss.  Theft of such devices continues to increase and is becoming a serious issue not only in the United States but globally.  

Among the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to address the issue of stolen or lost devices, was a November press conference co-hosted by Chairman Julius Genachowski and Under-Secretary of Communications for Mexico Hector Olavarría Tapia. Also in attendance was Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier, who has been a leading advocate on the issue of cell phone theft.

During this event (which can be viewed at http://www.fcc.gov/events/announcement-bilateral-initiative-combat-stolen-mobile-devices) they announced an initiative to combat the theft and cross-border trafficking of mobile devices between the United States and Mexico. The agreement is in addition to the recent participation of mobile service providers - both in the United States and Mexico - in an international stolen device database that will use shared information to identify and deactivate a stolen device after it has been reported stolen. This will prevent devices stolen in one country to be re-activated in another country. 

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ICT to Help Poor Farmers: From iPads to Low Cost Video

by Judy Payne, e-Business Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
November 16, 2012

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 ICT community to better the situation of women, their communities and their countries. As part of this work, the FCC has invited prominent women in technology from around the world to post blogs sharing their experiences.

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As e-Business Advisor at USAID, I focus on using information and communications technologies (ICT) to make the agency’s economic growth projects more successful. Because agriculture drives the economies of many developing countries, much of this work is being done through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Initiative.

I'm lucky to be able to get out into the field – literally – and see our agriculture projects and how ICT is or could be used to assist farmers. I’ve seen some high-end applications that seem to be working. For example, Sustainable Harvest uses iPads for coffee cooperatives in Rwanda to capture traceability information. The iPad’s intuitive user interface is much easier to use than a PC keyboard. (More information about the project is available here).

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FEMA Works with State and Locals to Prepare Region for the Nor’easter

by Lars Anderson, Public Affairs Director, FEMA
November 7, 2012

Cross-posted from the FEMA Blog

FEMA currently has more than 5,100 personnel working alongside our state and local partners. We are supporting disaster response and recovery operations throughout the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. We’re also standing ready to deploy additional resources if needed to respond to the Nor’easter that is forecasted to impact the region in the coming days. This new coastal storm is predicted to impact the region beginning after midnight Tuesday with impacts continuing Wednesday and into Thursday.

We have senior-level emergency management experts in operations, logistics, and recovery embedded, side-by-side with state and local emergency managers throughout New York and New Jersey to ensure clear lines of communication and immediately bring to bear the full resources of the federal government, as needed to respond to the Nor’easter or continue to the recovery efforts from Sandy.

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Experiencing the Magic of Innovation in Silicon Valley

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
October 23, 2012

I have seen a lot during my three-plus years as an FCC Commissioner: executive offices at major cable and television networks, telecom and broadband-related meetings on different continents, NGO exchanges highlighting how simple flip-phone devices are saving lives and improving agri-business outcomes, and more broadcast studio control rooms than I can remember. But because of the pace and other demands of the post, I had been unable get out to that land called Silicon Valley. Two weeks ago, that all changed.

As we travelled up and down Highway 101, I saw a lot of relatively new signs and office complexes that are now household names and others that will undoubtedly soon join them. What is even more striking is that I saw countless numbers of young faces, heard from many eager personalities, and saw way more styles of denim and t-shirts than all of my years in junior and high school.

At Cisco, we discussed internet infrastructure, both wired and wireless. Innovation is alive and well and no matter what the naysayers put forth, America is not lagging behind. Cisco spends billions on research and development, and is increasingly using mobile technology in furtherance of its connectivity goals. The conversation touched on mobile healthcare technology, and how broadband is and will forever be essential for remote care. Additionally, the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in American schools cannot be overstated, as the speed of innovation must be matched by the ability of our citizens to grasp eve more complex concepts.

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Making a Dent in the 21st Century: Women and Technology

by Monique Jeanne Morrow, Cisco, Distinguished Consulting Engineer
October 22, 2012

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"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 ICT community to better the situation of women, their communities and their countries. As part of this work, the FCC has invited prominent women in technology from around the world  to post blogs sharing their experiences."

Monique Morrow holds the title of Distinguished Consulting Engineer within the Office of the CTO at Cisco.

I love technology, and I am passionate about getting people, particularly women, excited about choosing a career in technology. 

That is why I attended the Women@theFrontier event, “Design the Future 2012” which was hosted at NASA Research Park in Moffett Field, CA. At the event, I met the most amazing women from a variety of backgrounds who are each exponentially making a difference in this world using technology.

With NASA Research Park as the backdrop, I could not help but remember scientist and astronaut Dr. Sally Ride who passed away this summer. Dr. Ride was passionate about science and stimulating that passion in grade school.  She knew that inspirational teachers make a difference in shaping the path of a potential technologist.

Ping Fu, CEO of Geomagic, a leading provider of 3D software (yes, she wore platform shoes and a necklace that she had designed with her 3D software during her presentation) stated that instead of women moving upward to an artificial glass ceiling, we should move forward, just move forward!

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FCC Releases Machine Readable Data on E-rate Program

October 19, 2012

We at the FCC know the importance of open data to policy making and government transparency. The FCC continues to modernize and streamline how it collects, uses, and disseminates data as smart policies depend on quality data, which should be accessible to the public in meaningful ways using modern digital tools.

Today we’re announcing newly available E-rate program data and the beginning of a process to provide easier access to even more data on the E-rate program.  Working with the staff of the Universal Service Administration Corporation(USAC), the administrator of the E-rate fund, we are releasing the most recent complete year of E-rate records available in machine readable format.  This data, for E-rate funding year 2010, is available for download and analysis here.

The FCC's E-rate program provides up to $2.3 billion a year to schools and libraries to help ensure they have access to affordable broadband and telecommunications services. When E-rate was created by Congress in 1996, only 14% of our nation’s schools were connected to the Internet.  Today over 97% have high-speed Internet access.

This data includes detailed information on what broadband and other communications services and IT equipment schools requested—100K unique service requests and 1.4 million records describing recipient schools and libraries, what categories of service they are actually purchasing, and how much they paid, and how much E-Rate program has dispersed.

We are eager to see what others can do with this data, and to understand what additional data we need to gather and publish to help answer important questions about the impact of the E-rate program.

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FCC Releases Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0 to Empower Small Businesses with Customizable Cybersecurity Plans

by Jordan Usdan, Kevin Almasy, and Maya Uppaluru, Public Private Initiatives
October 17, 2012

Small businesses are more dependent on the Internet than ever before, but 83 percent don’t have a formal cybersecurity plan to protect against cyber threats [1]  As larger companies improve cyber defenses, American small businesses are becoming more vulnerable targets.  According to Symantec, they were subject to hundreds of millions of cyber threats in just the first few months of 2012.[2] A typical cyber-attack that infiltrates a small business can cost, on average, close to $200,000 – enough to put many of them out of business.[3]

This week, the FCC is re-launching the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, an online resource to help small businesses create customized cybersecurity plans. Originally launched in October 2011, it is the result of an unprecedented public-private partnership between government experts and private IT and security companies, including DHS, NCSA, NIST, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Chertoff Group, Symantec, Sophos, Visa, Microsoft, HP, McAfee, The Identity Theft Council, ADP and others.

The Cyber Planner 2.0 features new details about cyber insurance to mitigate interruptions to business and financial loss from cyber-attacks, best practices on spyware, including how to avoid advanced versions of spyware and what immediate steps to take in case of infection, and recommendations to install new software systems that enable remote cleaning and tracking of laptops and mobile devices in the case of theft.  The FCC is also releasing an updated one page Cybersecurity Tip Sheet. The quick resource features new tips on creating a mobile device action plan and on payment and credit card security.

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FCC Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

by Thomas Wyatt, Director of the Office of Workplace Diversity
October 5, 2012

The FCC’s Office of Workplace Diversity, in collaboration with the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), hosted the Commission’s annual National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, in Washington.

 In opening remarks, Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was issuing a $5 million notice of forfeiture (a type of fine) against NobelTel, marking another decisive step in the Commission’s ongoing combat against the deceptive marketing of prepaid calling cards and bringing to $30 million the forfeiture totals against companies engaged in fraudulent or deceptive practices.”

 “As this action makes clear, we remain vigilant in our effort to crack down on prepaid calling card scammers who engage in deceptive marketing,” said Chairman Genachowski.  “Millions of Americans depend on prepaid calling cards to connect with family and friends around the world, and the FCC will not tolerate predatory schemes that include unfair or unclear fees. The Commission will continue to monitor marketing activities around prepaid calling cards – and will not hesitate to take decisive action when warranted.”

This year’s program also featured a roundtable discussion on media and telecom topics moderated by Jessica Gonzalez.  Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the NHMC, delivered the keynote.

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Coding is not just for Guys and Geeks

by Ann Mei Chang, U.S. Department of State Senior Advisor for Women and Technology
October 4, 2012

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As a twelve year old girl, I came across the Space Invaders video arcade game and was mesmerized by the relentless thump-thump of the advancing aliens, the satisfying sound effects, and the addictive simplicity of the game play.  Soon thereafter, I convinced my parents to buy my first computer, an Atari 400 with its awkward membrane keypad, and became entranced by the potential of building my own interactive experiences.  I set out to teach myself the BASIC programming language and learned how to make pixels move around the screen.  While I never developed a full-fledged video game, before I finished high school I went on to write a grading application for teachers at school, build a voice command interface demo at the local Army post, and teach at a computer summer camp.

After completing a Computer Science degree at Stanford University, I went on to work as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.  I found myself coding up algorithms and routines for this or that function within much bigger projects.  The analytical puzzles kept me challenged, but it was less than fully satisfying.  As part of a bigger team, I missed designing how the product would work, interacting with real users, and weighing which features were most important.  I became drawn to management positions that would give me this broader purview, solving real problems and designing complete solutions.  It is this tangible aspect of real world problem solving that I believe is key to engaging more girls and women (as well as boys and men) in technology -- make the work tangible and relevant.

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