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Announcing Generation Mobile, Featuring Jane Lynch

December 9, 2010 - 03:28 PM

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(Photo credit: LG Text Ed)

You can find them in the most innocent settings. The dinner table, the classroom, during evening homework hour or an otherwise quiet family walk. Clicking, clacking, beeping, buzzing and whirring. This maneuvering marauder? Mobile phones equipped with text messaging. These devices are exploding in use among the current generation and teens seem programmed to use them constantly.

A happy medium exists. Commonsense and responsible use of technology is within reach. To many parents the mobile culture is unfamiliar. We're hosting a Generation Mobile forum next Tuesday bringing together teens, parents, educators and experts. During this event we'll do our best to help parents navigate these challenging issues.

We'll discuss cyberbullying, sexting, over use, privacy, and texting-while-driving. The Pew Internet and American Life project will present their findings from a landmark study, "Kids and Mobile Phones."

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The FCC and First Year of Open Government

by Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director
December 7, 2010 - 05:41 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]In the modern federal landscape, the FCC finds itself increasingly at the intersection of technology, law, and citizen participation. It's a challenging place to be—these arenas change quickly, and move in ways that advancements in one ripple out and can change the others. But the opportunity to make progress on these fronts has never been greater.

Modernizing the rulemaking process—keeping up with these changes to best serve the American public—was the focus of an event hosted by the Brookings Institute last week. As an invited member of the Digitization – Past, Present, and Short-Term Future panel , I spoke about two key benefits that new technology offers to the rulemaking process.

First, erulemaking can make government work smarter. Moving from a largely paper-based system—the norm very recently—to a digital system has led to a rulemaking process that's accessible, searchable and less weighed down by troves of paperwork.

Second, moving rulemaking online has allowed the FCC to open a process that was closed for too long. Traditionally, access to rulemaking required access to the expert legal mechanisms typically out of the reach of most citizens, yet the rules we are creating are created for all and often impact people who don't have access to legal support. We've made strides on this front - You may be familiar with our online comment crowdsourcing platforms, the ability to integrate blog comments into the public record, and our other moves to make the FCC process as open as possible – there's more to come.

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Internet Service: Would You Switch - and Why?

December 6, 2010 - 01:13 PM

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If you're like many Americans, you may be wondering whether you should keep the Internet service you have in your home. If you have more than one broadband provider in your area, you may be getting a barrage of advertising encouraging you to switch from your current provider to another one. Should you switch – and if so, why?

At the FCC, we've done a representative national survey to find out how satisfied consumers are with their Internet service and what goes into the decision to switch or stick with an ISP. We're releasing the results of that survey today. It shows that Americans are largely pleased with their Internet service, but have some cause for dissatisfaction – and face obstacles that make it hard for them to switch ISPs.

Our survey found that 38 percent of Internet users have changed service providers in the last three years, more than half of them for a reason other than changing residences. The majority of Internet users seem to be satisfied with their service; most people who haven't switched say they haven't even considered it seriously. Still, 38 percent is a significant number, and one that deserves further exploration.

What makes people want to change providers? Two things: Price and performance. Nearly a quarter of home Internet users are dissatisfied with the price they pay for service, and 47 percent of those who switched ISPs said price was a major reason. Even more – 49 percent – said that a major reason they switched was to get a faster or higher performance Internet connection.

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Preserving Openness to Protect Jobs

December 3, 2010 - 01:47 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:88:height=93,width=70]]The impact that Internet entrepreneurs have made on the world is unquestioned.
These businesses push the limits of innovation and move America's economy forward, bound only by their imagination as they grow and expand their reach. This free spirit of creativity doesn’t just make new tech, it also helps create new jobs.
Small businesses and start-ups have accounted for more than 22 million new American jobs over the last 15 years. And broadband has played a central part, enabling small business to lower their costs and reach new customers in new markets around the country and, indeed, the globe.
As these businesses grow stronger, they make room for new jobs that help America compete in the global technology marketplace. Take eBay, for example, which in its short history has been a force multiplier for economic production, facilitating 60 billion dollars a year in economic activity.
The animating force behind all of these efforts is a shared appreciation for the Internet’s wondrous contributions to our economy and our way of life. Over the past generation we’ve seen American-made Internet innovations connect people across the globe. Social networking tools, online video services, and other new tech haven’t just changed the way we stay in touch -- they’ve helped create a booming sector of unbound creativity and economic opportunity.
I’ve learned a key lesson from these entrepreneurs and their businesses. Their spectacular growth is powered by a core value, one shared by the founders of our nation and the architects of the Internet: restrictions on freedom shackle the human spirit, and constrain the promise of bold, new ventures.

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Preserving a Free and Open Internet [video]

December 2, 2010 - 02:01 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]In his clarion call yesterday morning Chairman Julius Genachowski laid out a proposal for basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, job creation, competition, and free expression.

These rules rest on three basic tenets:

  1. Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination
  2. Consumers have the right to basic information about your broadband service
  3. The Internet will remain a level playing field.

This proposal is deeply rooted in history. The grounding ideas were first articulated by Republican Chairmen Powell and Martin and, in 2005, endorsed in a unanimous FCC policy statement. Chairman Genachowski cited the many months of hard work leading up to this moment – hard work across government, industry and broadband providers – and the substantial response received from the engaged public.

(This is cross-posted on the Open Internet Blog. Please leave comments there.)

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Emergencies Abroad: What Do You Dial?

December 1, 2010 - 02:58 PM

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If you're traveling in Europe and suddenly you need to make an emergency call - what do you do? Dial "112." Don't call 911 as you would in the United States; that number doesn't work in Europe. Dialing 112 from any country in the European Union (EU) will connect you to emergency services, such as police, fire, and ambulance services. (See the list of European Union member countries.) Dialing 112 could be a life-saver and is completely free. You can dial 112 from any mobile phone, landline, or payphone. In most EU countries, the operator will speak both the local language and English (you can find country specific details).

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Preserving a Free and Open Internet

December 1, 2010 - 11:16 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:88:height=93,width=70]]After months of hard work we have reached an important milestone in the fight to protect a free and open Internet for all Americans. 

Today, the FCC proposed basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, job creation, competition, and free expression. If adopted later this month, these basic rules will mean several things for consumers, namely:

  1. Americans have the freedom to access lawful content on the Internet, without discrimination. No one should be able to tell you what you can or can’t do on the Internet, as long as it’s lawful. Our rules will ensure that no central authority—either corporations or government—have the right to decide what you can access on the Internet. 
  2. You have a right to basic information about your broadband service.  Our proposed framework will ensure that consumers have information they need to make informed choices about subscribing or using broadband networks. 
  3. The Internet will remain a level playing field. The ability for consumers to speak their mind, engage in commerce and innovate without permission from a corporation has enabled the Internet’s unparalled success.  Our rules will protect against corporate gatekeepers prioritizing access to one person’s content over another’s.

The openness of the Internet has enabled unparalleled innovation and job growth, yet we continue to find examples of this freedom being attacked. We have found instances when broadband providers position themselves as gatekeepers to the Internet, and have prevented consumers from using applications of their choice without disclosing what they were doing.

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The Perfect, the Good, and the FCC

December 1, 2010 - 12:00 AM
Guest Post by Kevin Werbach
 
It has been a busy week in U.S. communications policy, with an FCC meeting adopting important spectrum policy reforms, an FCC complaint about Comcast’s approval policies for cable modems, and a dispute between Comcast and Level 3 over fees for Internet backbone traffic.  And late last night, it got even more interesting.
 
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reportedly circulated a draft Open Internet order, to be considered at the FCC’s December 21 meeting.  According to a statement given to reporters, the order builds on the compromise terms from Congressional negotiations led by Representative Henry Waxman this fall.  What does that mean?  I’m confident of two things: Hardly anyone will like the proposal; and it’s the right thing to do.
 
Advocates of network neutrality will be disappointed the FCC isn’t going forward with “reclassification” of broadband access as a regulated telecommunications service, while many Republicans and network operators will complain about a “power grab” to “regulate the Internet” even after Democratic losses in the midterm elections.  Both should  put aside their ideologies and look realistically at the situation.
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Strengthening Accessibility through Global Coordination

by Jamal Mazrui, Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative
November 24, 2010 - 12:53 PM

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In 2006, the United Nations agreed on the language of a treaty known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The treaty is going through a process of signing and ratification among many countries. In 2009, President Obama signed it in honor of the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A related endeavor is called G3ict, a public-private partnership encouraging policies to ensure that information and communication technologies (ICT) are accessible to people with disabilities. Such ICT can equalize opportunities for independent living, social inclusion, higher education, and gainful employment — empowering people everywhere, and especially in developing countries.

As part of a collaboration with G3ict, George Washington University hosted a policy forum last week. Leaders in ICT policy from around the world convened with partners from the U.S. government, industry, and consumer groups. Karen Peltz Strauss, Elizabeth Lyle, and I were able to participate on behalf of the FCC. This is an exciting time period in which unprecedented coordination is occurring among ICT-related proceedings to set accessibility standards and policy, such as those related to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. We all shared perspectives, identified problems, and brainstormed solutions.

The ideas and connections were invigorating. Let me highlight some common themes as follows:

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9-1-1's Next Frontier

November 23, 2010 - 04:10 PM

This morning Chairman Genachowski, Public Safety Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett and a collection of FCC staff visited a state-of-the-art response facility at the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center in Arlington, Virginia. Following the vision laid out in the National Broadband Plan, the event marks the announcement of steps to revolutionize America’s 9-1-1 system by harnessing the potential of text, photo, and video in emergencies.

Our communications needs are increasingly reliant on mobile devices. In fact, 70% of 9-1-1 calls originate from mobile phones and users rely regularly on texts and multimedia messages. While a subsequent evolution of our 9-1-1 system seems a natural -- and obvious -- step for digitally aware citizen, our current 9-1-1 system doesn’t utilize the superb, possibly life-saving potential within our existing mobile devices. With videos, pictures, texts -- and other untold mobile innovations surely on the horrizon -- next-generation 9-1-1 will position public safety officials a step ahead with critical real-time, on-the-ground information.

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