Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Official FCC Blog

Connect America Fund: Putting Consumers on the Map

by Sharon Gillett and Michael Byrne, Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau and Geographic Information Officer
October 12, 2011 - 12:09 PM

Last week, Chairman Genachowski unveiled his proposal to accelerate broadband build-out – wired and wireless – to unserved homes, businesses and anchor institutions across the country through the Connect America Fund. If adopted, this proposal would connect millions more Americans to high-speed Internet and bring enormous benefits to individual consumers, our nation’s economic recovery and our global competitiveness. 

View the full map

For example, consumers who make long-distance calls – including nearly all landline and mobile phone subscribers – will benefit from reduced prices or greater value for the money – or both, with an FCC-estimated $1 billion or more per year in benefits for wireless consumers alone.

Reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Intercarrier Compensation  (ICC) system can’t come soon enough. There are currently 18 million Americans who lack access to broadband. The harms from not having broadband are rising every day for consumers, and for our country.

To help illustrate the size and scope of the challenge – and the urgent need for reform – we have developed this interactive map, which shows with striking clarity that large swaths of our nation are being bypassed by the broadband revolution.

On this map, you’ll see a mix of served, partially served, and unserved areas, often right next to each other. 

Without USF and ICC reform, the map is unlikely to change much.

Read more »

Behind the Scenes with Apps for Communities

by Brittany L. Stevenson, New Media Associate
September 30, 2011 - 07:04 PM

So, who's behind the 50+ apps that we've received so far? Curious to know some details?

Read more »

FCC and FEMA: How to Communicate Before, During and After a Major Disaster

September 21, 2011 - 11:46 AM

By Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Ask anyone who has lived through a significant disaster what that experience was like and – without a doubt – one of the things some people are likely to recall is how difficult it was to communicate from their mobile phones with friends, family and emergency services like 911 in the immediate aftermath.

Many of us were reminded of this last month, when both a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene struck parts of the East Coast. People immediately reached for their phones to call loved ones or 911.  Unfortunately, in some cases, loss of power made communication difficult.

The FCC and FEMA are doing everything we can to empower the public to be prepared for all emergencies (you can visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov to learn more).  But one of the lessons learned from that August earthquake was that we can do more to educate the public about the most effective ways to communicate before, during and after a disaster. 

Today, we are pleased to release a set of new, easy-to-follow tips to help all Americans prepare their homes and mobile phones for a disaster.  These tips are practical things everyone can do to better preserve the ability to communicate effectively during – and immediately after – a disaster. 

While we don’t have control over when or where the next disaster will strike, we do have control over what we do to prepare.  Check out these tips and please, take one more step and share it with your networks. Use Twitter, Facebook, email or a good old-fashioned phone call to help us spread the word – and help more Americans get ready before the next disaster strikes.

Read more »

FCC Announces Public Testing of First Television White Spaces Database

by Julie Knapp, Chief, FCC Office of Engineering and Technology
September 14, 2011 - 03:17 PM

Julius P. Knapp

White spaces are unused spectrum between TV stations and are considered prime real estate because signals in this band travel well, making the band ideally suited for mobile wireless devices. Unlocking this valuable spectrum will open the doors for new industries to arise, create American jobs, and spurr new investment and innovation. 

The availability of spectrum for unlicensed devices has fueled a wave of innovation and new businesses based on technologies such as as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DECT cordless phones, baby monitors, RF ID, smart utility meters, and many others.  This new unlicensed spectrum is powerful platform for innovation and in turn, experimental use, holding rich potential for further investment in the development of new technologies and services such as "Super Wi-Fi", wireless broadband networks, video devices, and machine to machine communications, among others.   

Today, the Commission is taking a critical step towards that goal by issuing a public notice announcing the start of the first trial of a TV white spaces database. The limited public testing of Spectrum Bridge’s database system is intended to allow the public to access and test the system to ensure that it correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed TV band devices, properly registers those facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the rules.

Read more »

Apps for Communities- Reminder to submit entries

by Tammy Sun, FCC Communications Director
September 8, 2011 - 01:39 PM

It’s the final days of summer and the Apps for Communities entry deadline’s been extended until October 3, 2011. Thanks for all those who’ve already submitted; our judges are looking forward to reviewing your apps. To enter, apply via the Challenge.gov portal and add a link to your team’s fully functioning app or demonstration and the source code.  

The Apps for Communities Challenge is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission. The Challenge will offer up to $100,000 in prizes to winning application developers and is intended to bring together providers of public data, developers and traditionally underserved populations through a national contest. The challenge is an effort to drive the great technical skills we have in our country out into our local communities. A particular goal is to build new applications to improve access for people who struggle with accessing information and services online: Seniors, non-English speakers, people who are uncomfortable with technology, and others. The results of this contest can have an enormously powerful impact on local communities across the country.

This year, we’re honored to have investors, technologist, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and philanthropist who have agreed to server as judges for the competition:  Marc Andreessen, Mayor Cory Booker, Charles Best, Brad Feld, Jen Pahlka and Tom Lee.   

Read more »

Back to School in a Digital World Forum – A call for your questions

by Tammy Sun, FCC Communications Director
September 7, 2011 - 03:35 PM

Like many parents around the country, the FCC’s getting ready for back-to-school season. Tomorrow, we’re hosting Back to School in a Digital World, a forum bringing together parents, educators and experts to discuss the opportunities and challenges around technology use by adolescents. Recent surveys show that nearly three quarters of online teens use social network sites and, on average, teenagers send one text message every ten minutes during waking hours. The event will highlight questions from parents, educators and others from across the country. 

We want to hear from you. As parents, tell us your burning questions – the ones you talk most about with your friends, family, teachers and others – surrounding issues related to your child’s online and digital experiences, at home, at school, on mobile phones, tablets and other devices. The FCC has set up a crowdsourcing site to help collect some of the most common questions from parents on this important topic. Submit your questions – or vote for topics you’d like to see discussed – here: fcc.us/digitalparent  Anyone can participate by submitting a question or voting for questions.  The forum will be webcast live on www.fcc.gov/live.  Parents will also be able to send in questions during the forum at livequestions@fcc.gov or tweet their questions to #fcclive. So feel free to give us your questions now, and one way or another, we’ll respond!

Back to School in a Digital World is free and open to the public. If you live in the Washington-DC area and want to attend, here are the details.

WHEN:           

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10:00AM – 11:15AM Eastern

WHERE:        

Columbia HeightsEducational Campus

Main Auditorium

Read more »

Tips for Communicating in an Emergency

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
August 27, 2011 - 01:59 PM
James Arden Barnett, Jr.

I want to share some important emergency information to you for during the storm so that you and your family stay safe.

Read more »

Electronic Filing for Full-Sized Cellular Maps

by Chris Miller, Program Analyst, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
August 26, 2011 - 11:53 AM

This week we made the announcement that starting on September 8, 2011, applicants can file full-sized (1:500,000 scale) cellular maps electronically using a standard GIS format.

These maps are filed when licensees of 800 MHz cellular service apply for authority to operate in an “unserved area” or notify the FCC of a reduction in their Cellular Geographic Service Area (CGSA).

With this exciting option, applicants will no longer need to file full-sized paper maps (although they can if they want to). By filing these maps electronically, we believe everyone involved benefits. First, the public will now gain instant access to these maps by using readily available GIS software. Applicants no longer need to print and mail these large maps to the FCC. And, we will now have another tool in our hands as we review these maps.

There are some specific steps that need to be followed when these maps are filed, so please take a look at the Public Notice we released for additional information.

We really are excited about this new option and look forward to having the first electronic maps filed next month.

Read more »

At the National Council of La Raza Conference

by Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, Associate Chief, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
August 23, 2011 - 11:50 AM

Embrace Now, this year’s National Council of La Raza (NCLR) conference, kicked off at the end of July. The Commission was well represented as we exhibited at the conference’s National Latino Family Expo. We provided information on a range of topics from the Do Not Call Registry to unwanted telephone marketing calls and information on finding local broadcast television stations. Of particular interest was Lifeline - which provides eligible consumers a basic monthly discount on one basic local service - and Link-Up - which pays for part of a connection or activation charge for new phone service. Consumers who were not aware of the eligibility requirements or restrictions were advised to contact their local service provider or public utilities commission. Most attendees who visited our booth wanted information on how to file an informal complaint or how to comment.National Council La Raza

Read more »

Announcing Apps for Communities Deadline Extended

by Clay Johnson, Partner, Big Window Labs
August 19, 2011 - 04:44 PM

We are thrilled to have already received over 35 entries to the Apps for Communities contest, but because we've just recently confirmed our impressive slate of judges, the Knight Foundation and the FCC wanted to give everyone a few extra weeks.  The results of this contest can have an enormously powerful impact on local communities across the country and we could not be happier that so many participants are interested in our contest.  As a result, we're extending our deadline until Monday, October 3rd.  

In addition, we are also honored to have the participation of so many distinguished judges:  Marc Andreessen, Mayor Cory Booker, Charles Best, Brad Feld, Jen Pahlka and Tom Lee.  They are looking forward to judging your entries.  This challenge is an effort to drive the great technical skills we have in our country out into our local communities. A particular goal is to build new applications to improve access for people who struggle with accessing information and services online: Seniors, non-English speakers, people who are uncomfortable with technology, and others. This contest seeks to bring the value of broadband to people who are, up until now, less likely to be online.

For those of you who've already submitted apps -- if you'd like to tweak and fine-tune your app and edit your submission, please feel free. Or if you'd like to double your chances of winning, you're welcome to use this extra time to create a second entry.

For those of you looking to enter our contest -- now's your chance to get started.  We've got an extra month on our deadline -- and if you'd like to get your work in front of these impressive judges, improve the way people use data in communities across America, and potentially win up to $60,000 -- now's your chance!

Good luck and thank you.

 

Read more »
close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.