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National Consumer Protection Week

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, CGB
March 5, 2013 - 04:26 PM

The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) strives to make life better for the American consumer.  One way we work towards that goal is through partnerships like the one we have with the Federal Trade Commission in celebrating the 22nd Annual National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3-March 9, 2013.  National Consumer Protection Week is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. 

Here at the FCC, CGB is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies and for educating consumers about the work of the Commission.  We work diligently to ensure consumers have the information and tools available to help them make informed decisions.  For example, you can find consumer guides on our website on topics such as Cramming, Bill Shock, and Slamming.  Our Household Broadband Guide  can be used to compare minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate and high household use with one, two, three or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet or game console).  And you can compare typical online activities with the minimum Mbps needed for adequate performance for each application by using our Broadband Speed Guide.

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Attracting “Digital Natives” to ICT

by Vicki MacLeod, Consultant
March 4, 2013 - 04:41 PM

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

It is ironic that in today’s digital economy it is becoming more and more difficult to attract and retain students in traditional ICT course studies. So, just as ICT skills are becoming a fundamental part of our economy, young people, especially young women, are shunning formal computer science studies in favor of what are perceived to be ‘sexier’ science subjects like forensics or genetics. A 2012 report by an industry group in Australia put the existing shortage of skilled ICT professionals  in that country at approximately 8,500, while the European Commission has estimated that Europe will suffer a shortage of 700,000 ICT professionals by 2015.

So what is going on? Why has ICT lost its attraction for the generation of so-called digital natives, whose lives revolve around their smartphones, Facebook pages, and tweets?

Many studies have found that the ICT curriculum itself is one of the key reasons that students are no longer interested in a formal ICT education. The argument is that the curriculum has not kept pace with the skills and knowledge of the students, who tend to view keyboard based coding exercises with the same enthusiasm as a piano student views scales and arpeggios – necessary in the long-term perhaps, but in the short-term boring and repetitive.

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Tribal Radio Priority

by Geoffrey C. Blackwell, Chief, Office of Native Affairs and Policy
March 1, 2013 - 04:18 PM

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission established a Tribal Radio Priority to expand the number of radio stations owned by American Indian Tribes broadcasting to Tribal lands.  The Tribal Priority is a FCC rule through which Tribes or Tribally owned or controlled entities may more easily obtain broadcast radio licenses in both the AM and FM bands.  The Tribal Priority is intended not only to provide radio service tailored to specific Tribal needs and cultures, but to increase ownership of such radio stations by Tribes and Tribally owned entities.  In doing so, the Tribal Priority also fosters localism and diversity of ownership.

The need for Tribal radio stations is clear.  There are 566 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.  Approximately one-third of the 4.1 million Native American population lives on Tribal lands, which comprise over 55 million acres, or 2.3 percent of the area of the United States, exclusive of Alaska.  Despite this, fewer than 100 broadcast radio stations are licensed to Tribes or affiliated groups, a fraction of one percent of all radio station owners.  We have visited many parts of Indian Country and we have seen how people in Native Communities can benefit from radio – to prepare for and recover from emergencies, to preserve Native culture, language and music, and to convey important information to Tribal members.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski Honored By D.C. Chief of Police for Spearheading Fight against Smartphone Theft & Related Assaults

by Kris Monteith, Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
March 1, 2013 - 12:29 PM


Last night, D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier honored Chairman Genachowski with the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award for spearheading efforts to combat massive nationwide smartphone theft and related assaults.

In April 2012, Chairman Genachowski joined major police department chiefs, including Chief Lanier, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Senator Chuck Schumer, and wireless carriers to announce an industry commitment to develop a shared, centralized database to record unique identifiers of stolen wireless devices in order to prevent reuse and make it harder for thieves to resell them.

I accepted the Chief of Police Medal of Merit Award last night on behalf of Chairman Genachowski at Police Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony. (Chairman Genachowski is currently in California for the FCC’s Second National Hearing on Network Resilience and Reliability.)

As Chief Lanier explained, smartphone theft is a serious issue. In the District of Columbia, New York City, and other major cities, police say as much as 40 percent of all robberies now involve stolen cell phones and other small electronic devices.  These robberies endanger both the physical safety of victims as well as the safety of the information on the stolen devices.

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - Rate of Return for Connect America Cost Model

February 28, 2013 - 02:24 PM

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.


The Commission previously adopted a unitary rate of return for all incumbent LECs – regardless of size – when such carriers were operating as regulated monopolies. Since that time, Congress enacted the 1996 Act, technology changes have introduced alternatives to the incumbent’s service, and most of the larger incumbent LECs have moved to price cap regulation.

Hybrid Cost Proxy Model: The authorized federal rate of return has been 11.25 percent since January 1, 1991. HCPM utilizes the authorized rate of return. When establishing criteria to ensure consistency in the calculations of federal universal service support, the Commission concluded that the authorized federal rate of return on interstate services would be a “reasonable rate of return by which to determine forward looking costs.”

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Spectrum Available for Mobile Broadband How the U.S. Stacks Up and Challenges Ahead

February 26, 2013 - 05:32 PM

Today the United States is recognized as a leader in mobile technology, including commercial deployments of LTE and development of mobile operating systems.  This leadership depends on our continuing to make additional spectrum available for licensed mobile broadband and unlicensed uses, particularly as other countries are also focused on making additional broadband spectrum available.

Today we are releasing a white paper that compiles information on the status of licensed and unlicensed spectrum resources in the United States and selected countries around the globe, which also realize the importance of additional mobile broadband spectrum, and are taking steps to make more available.   The countries selected for this analysis were based in part on data availability.  Future updates of the paper may include additional countries.  Fueled by the skyrocketing demand for mobile data services, there has been a lot of interest in understanding what spectrum is available for mobile broadband networks around the world, and how the situation in the United States compares to other countries.  While much information about global spectrum resources is publicly available, getting a complete grasp of the spectrum availability picture around the globe can be daunting.  Various conditions and unique issues often arise regarding different frequency bands in individual countries:  for example, frequencies may be available, but only for use in certain geographic areas; or there may be restrictions on spectrum use.  In addition, different sources may use different definitions, so a frequency band might be considered “currently available” according to one source but not another, resulting in different bottom lines. 

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The FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative: Background and Recent Work

by Jamal Mazrui, Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative
February 25, 2013 - 01:57 PM

Chairman Genachowski launched the Accessibility and Innovation (A&I) Initiative in July 2010, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Risks of Emerging Technology

As we all know, technology is evolving at an amazing pace, changing what we do, and how we do it, in almost every sphere of life.  Mostly, this means exciting progress, since new tasks can be done that were not possible before, or traditional tasks can be done with less time and cost.

Unfortunately, however, history has shown that access to new technology often lags behind for people with disabilities.  Those of us with a disability are not deliberately excluded from the benefits of new technology.  Rather, accessibility is generally not on the radar screen when inventors are racing to create new products ahead of their competitors.

An ironic result of this dynamic is that people with disabilities can be more isolated from their peers if technological advancements do not consider their needs.  For example, I personally experienced an inadvertent, major setback from technological change in the 1990s when office computers quickly switched from the text-based interface of DOS to the graphical user interface of Windows, for which there were no viable screen readers at the time.

Potential for Equalizing Opportunities

A different result is possible because most contemporary technologies have software at their core.  Software is not fixed and inflexible, but malleable and adaptable.  It can be made to do almost anything that the human mind can conceive.  That includes being responsive to particular needs and abilities, supporting alternative means of input or output, thereby increasing their usability for everyone.

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Broadband Breakfast Club: FCC’s Mobile Broadband Agenda

by Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
February 22, 2013 - 03:40 PM


I took the opportunity in a recent speech to discuss the concept of “more” within the context of the FCC’s mobile broadband agenda – our focus on getting more broadband to more people in more places – while continuing to foster a robust, competitive marketplace.  Recent data suggests that wireless data consumption will grow 9-fold over the next four years.  We are working hard to meet the spectrum challenges this growth presents.  The full text of my speech and slides (which include some compelling data), as presented at a Broadband Breakfast Club event hosted by on Tuesday February 19, 2013, are below:

Good morning, everyone.  Thank you to the organizer of this event, Sylvia Syracuse, for inviting me to speak, and to all of you for coming out to discuss such an interesting set of topics. 

I hope people enjoyed the three-day weekend.  After the Downton Abbey finale, I know many of us needed that recovery day. 

I appreciate the opportunity to share what the FCC has been and will be doing to make mobile broadband available to all Americans and to facilitate a robust mobile wireless marketplace.

Mobileis an enormous driver of innovation and economic growth – it comes as no surprise to anyone here that our use of, and the need for, mobile data is growing by leaps and bounds.  The National Broadband Plan in 2010 identified the spectrum gap driven by rapid growth of mobile broadband use, and that growth has only continued.  Cisco’s recently updated Visual Networking Index Mobile Data Traffic Forecast – a very rich and interesting report – predicts that U.S. mobile data traffic will increase nine-fold within the next four years.

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - Determining the Fraction of Supported Locations that will Receive Speeds of 6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps or Greater

February 22, 2013 - 01:22 PM

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.


The USF/ICC Transformation Order requires price cap carriers that accept the state-level commitment for universal service support under Connect America Phase II to offer broadband at speeds of 4 Mbps/1 Mbps to all supported locations and at least speeds of 6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps to a number of supported locations by the end of the fifth year. The Commission directed the Wireline Competition Bureau to design the forward-looking cost model so that it ensures that the “most locations possible” receive broadband at speed of 6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps or greater at the end of the five year term.

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 - FTTP Capital Cost Inputs

February 22, 2013 - 01:11 PM

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.


The second version of the Connect America Cost Model (CACM v2.0) has defined inputs for specified hardware associated with a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, such as optical network terminal units, fiber drop terminals, fiber splitters, and optical line terminal equipment, as shown in CostQuest’s Oct. 19, 2012 ex parte filing.

Questions for Comment

  1. Does CACM v2.0 make appropriate assumptions about the types of hardware that are needed for a FTTP architecture? Are there other types of hardware that should be added, or some types of hardware that should not be included, when the Bureau adopts the final version of the model?
  2. Are the individual input values that CACM v2.0 identifies for each specified category of hardware or infrastructure reasonable? Should the Bureau use these input values when it adopts the final version of the CACM?


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