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July Open Commission Meeting: Thoughts from the Chairman

July 15, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:153:height=104,width=70]]The FCC held an Open Commission Meeting today to discuss expanding the reach and use of broadband by rural health care providers, increasing access and investment in mobile spectrum, and streamlining efficiency in the Electronic Tariff Filing System.

Chairman Genachowski shares his thoughts on today’s Open Commission Meeting below:

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Denying Bill Shock by Distorting the Facts

July 15, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:78:height=98,width=70]]The FCC receives thousands of complaints a year about cell-phone bill shock — what happens when consumers get sudden, unexpected increases in their bills from one month to the next. In May, we released a national survey, done with two major research firms, showing that 17 percent of Americans — 30 million people — have experienced this problem. Click here for the whitepaper on the FCC survey.

Now, rather than focusing on ways to address consumers' concerns, the wireless trade association (CTIA — The Wireless Association) has been hard at work finding unfounded ways to criticize the FCC's data.   The association's latest attack on the FCC's study is based on an astounding misstatement: that as many as 70 percent of the people we interviewed were teenagers. This is simply untrue — in fact, we made it clear that we interviewed only adults.

Ironically enough, this whopper of an error stemmed from CTIA's misunderstanding of how research organizations interview cell-phone users, who are an increasingly important part of any survey sample. Click here for a more detailed rebuttal of this and other errors in CTIA's argument.

It's unfortunate that CTIA, which represents one of the country's most innovative and productive industries, has decided that ignoring or distorting the facts is a better strategy than simply addressing wireless customers' concerns. This trade association apparently believes there's nothing to worry about if 30 million Americans have gotten sudden increases on their cell-phone bills.

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Getting Ready for the Comcast NBCU Forum

July 13, 2010

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Some of the biggest news to emerge from the media industry has arisen from Comcast’s expressed intention to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric. This afternoon the FCC will conduct a forum to parse views and hear public opinion.

This afternoon we will wade through many of the issues raised by stakeholders during our public forum in Chicago. We have assembled two panels. The first will look at online video distribution. Television industry executives will take the stage with professors and policy figures to assess the impact of the merger on the growing world of online video. The second panel will look at the effect on multichannel video programming distributors, such as cable and satellite television companies. This set also includes internet providers, a group that increasing numbers of viewers rely upon to watch programming. After these panels we will ask for public comment. You can participate online during the event by asking questions of the panelists. Email livequestions@fcc.gov or use #fccNBC in your post on Twitter.

If you’re in Chicago today, come join us. The forum will take place at Northwestern University Law School’s Thorne Auditorium, from 1 – 8pm CST. No registration is required. Otherwise join us online. We will be streaming the event in its entirety at fcc.gov/live and will be live tweeting throughout the afternoon.

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My Journey to Alaska

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
July 13, 2010

I’m back in the Washington, D.C. heat after staying cool for almost a week in Alaska. Senator Mark Begich and his staff ensured that I experienced urban, rural and extreme rural Alaska with visits to Anchorage, Cordova, Kotzebue and Kiana. At each stop, Alaskans proved to me that Southerners do not have a monopoly on hospitality. They welcomed me with friendly smiles and full plates of Copper River Red Salmon that melted in my mouth, fresh Alaskan King Crab legs (for breakfast!) and even corned beef hash (my childhood morning obsession)! While I enjoyed every bite, I also benefited from an earful of feedback about the National Broadband Plan and proposed or current FCC policies.

Before the trip, I heard about all of the ways in which the “Great Land” differs from “the lower 48.” As I flew across the State and met with consumers, providers and other stakeholders, I gained an appreciation of the unique challenges faced by Alaskans. But I was more struck by the similarities. Fundamentally, we all share common goals – the improvement and enhancement of the communities in which we reside. Alaskans, like everyone else, recognize the power of broadband to help achieve these goals.

Connecting the urban, rural and extreme rural Alaskan communities allows individuals to expand their horizons. It also helps strengthen communities while maintaining cultural identities. Connecting to one’s cultural home should not be jeopardized by lack of access. Ubiquitous broadband can ensure that Alaskans and other individuals always have the option of staying close to home without sacrificing opportunities.

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Six Months Later: Challenges Continue and Communications Services are Key to Haiti's Future

by Mindel DeLaTorre, Chief of the International Bureau
July 12, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:98:height=98,width=70]]Today, six months since the devastating January 12th earthquake in Haiti,   our hearts are with our neighbors in Haiti.  I am picturing many of the people I met in Haiti when I participated in the FCC’s communications assessment team there after the earthquake – from the government officials to the radio and TV broadcasters who were making the most of very little to the young boy delighted by a small ball.

The country has now moved from the initial recovery phase to reconstruction.  And yet, every day, our counterparts continue to be forced to work with limited resources and to strive against daunting challenges.

We at the FCC remain committed to helping Haiti improve its communications framework.  Communications services are key to Haiti's future.  As Haiti implements its reconstruction plans, including new "growth poles" of population centers, a diversity of competitive communications services will be critical for successful rebuilding of all sectors.  Communications services will fuel the economy and facilitate delivery of education, health care, and government services to new communities.  Whether through narrowband or broadband applications, communications and information technologies will drive the use of new media, mobile banking, and other applications that are important for both day-to-day life and long-term growth.

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Spanish Version of the National Broadband Plan Release

July 12, 2010

En un número creciente de hogares americanos se habla español, pero más de la mitad de todos los hispanos no tienen acceso a la banda ancha donde ellos viven.

Esta comunidad de habla hispana puede beneficiarse únicamente de acceso a la banda ancha, adopción, y conectividad. Y esa misma comunidad – como todos los americanos – no se le puede permitir que se quede atrás cuando se despliega el futuro de la banda ancha.

Para dirigirse a éstas y muchas otras cuestiones sobre la banda ancha, la Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones (FCC por sus siglas en inglés) entregó un plan nacional de banda ancha al Congreso. Titulada Creando un Estados Unidos Conectado: Plan Nacional de Banda Ancha, el plan presenta una agenda ambiciosa que proporciona recomendaciones para conectar a todos los americanos a la banda ancha.

Hoy, este documento, titulado Creando un Estados Unidos Conectado: Plan Nacional de Banda Ancha, está disponible en un formato descargable para consumidores que hablan español.

La información en cuestiones como las barreras de costo para la adopción y utilización de banda ancha y la alfabetización digital es sumamente importante para la comunidad de habla hispana. Hoy, la FCC está orgullosa de entregar el plan directamente a la comunidad.

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Great FCC Employee Poll Results: On the Road to a Model Agency of Government

by Steven VanRoekel, Managing Director
July 12, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:92:height=106,width=70]]When FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the new leadership team and I came to the FCC a year ago, we had one mission in mind – work with the great staff of the FCC to do all that we could to make the FCC a “model of excellence” in government. This was a worthwhile but daunting challenge – during transition, we had learned that the FCC placed 28th out of 32 small agencies in the Partnership for Public Service’s 2009 “Best Places to Work” report based on OPM’s Federal Employee Survey.  Over the course of the last year we set out to make the FCC a great place: We improved employee communication and openness through technology and new media, specifically creating the FCC “Reboot” intranet site which focuses on sharing information, gathering information, blogs and anonymous feedback. Chairman Genachowski established an SES “Senior Counsel on FCC Reform” –  a position that focuses on openness and transparency at the agency and reports directly to the Chairman (Note: The creation of this position also marked the return of Mary Beth Richards to the FCC which, if you know Mary Beth, surely accounted for improved morale).  In the last year, we worked to make management accountable for employee satisfaction, specifically briefing management on results and establishing goals in key leadership areas as well as coaching managers; and we worked on leadership development, specifically the establishment of executive leadership forums. This is all in addition to working through low-cost upgrades around the building, a focus on greening the agency, focus on charitable giving and community outreach, and much, much more.

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FCC'S Open Data Initiative: A Bit of Background about the FCC's Data

by Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer
July 9, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:43:height=100,width=70]]Post: FCC Data Innovation Initiative Journal, Day 17, Washington DC.
For Comment: Media Bureau MB Docket No. 10-103; Wireline Competition WC Docket No. 10-132; Wireless Telecommunication Bureau WT Docket No 10-131.
Resources: reboot.fcc.gov/data/review

Last month we announced FCC's Data Innovation Initiative including a new cross-agency data team and initial public review of 340 data sets from the Media, Wireline Competition and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus.

Yesterday, the Commission announced a Notice of Public Rulemaking WC Docket No. 10-141 to consider requiring tariff filers to file using the FCC's existing Electronic Tariff Filing System and to standardize tariff filings to ease review by the public and the FCC.

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Wireless World Travel - Connecting with Consumers at Dulles International Airport

July 2, 2010

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By the FCC Dulles Airport Passenger Visit Team: Yul Kwon, Dan Rumelt, Marissa Astor, Erik Chamberlin, John Cochran, and Sam Rodriguez.

During Wireless World Travel Week we went to Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC to tell people about Wireless World Travel Week. We distributed our tip sheet, Wireless World Travel Made Simple, talked to international travelers about their calling experiences, and told people about ways to save money on international wireless calls. We also warned many travelers about possible hefty phone bills if they didn't use their phone properly while overseas.

When we arrived at the airport, we staked out a few prime spots in the main terminal and began handing out our tip sheets. We were pleasantly surprised to find that many people had already followed the cardinal rule of international travel: check with your wireless provider before departing. Unfortunately we met many travelers who didn't know whether their phones would work overseas and what the charges might be. Some people assumed their wireless phones would work abroad, especially if they were GSM-enabled.

One man was about to make a mistake with his iPhone that could have been costly. While he had a voice plan with unlimited data in the US, we told him that he needed to temporarily turn off many of the data applications so he wouldn't accidentally incur lots of unexpected data fees. Another traveler told us a story about how he traveled overseas multiple times in one month and came home to a phone bill hundreds of dollars more than he expected. So he decided to buy a world phone, a much cheaper option for the frequent world traveler. Some people told us they avoided unexpected international calling charges simply by leaving their wireless phones at home in the US.

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FCC's Data Innovation Initiative: Reinvigorating the FCC's Data Assets

by Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer
June 30, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:43:height=100,width=70]]As part of the FCC reform agenda to improve our fact-based, data-driven decision making, the Media, Wireline Competition, and Wireless Telecommunications bureaus have released simultaneous, identical Public Notices seeking comment on all aspects of how they collect, use, and disseminate data.

Along with Public Notices, we are also publicly announcing a cross-agency data team of Chief Data Officers in the bureaus, a Geographic Information Officer, and a Chief Data Officer for the agency to ensure a better connection between data and sound analysis in policy processes.

These actions are part of the FCC's Data Innovation Initiative publicly launched yesterday. They are the next steps of a journey that began last fall with the Commission's first-ever, agency-wide inventory identifying hundreds of distinct data sets. The Public Notices initiate an iterative process examining all the FCC's current and future data requirements, starting with these three Bureaus.

Yesterday's Public Notices invite you to join us on this journey for the next 45 days as we openly and transparently look closer at, and seek your comments on, nearly 340 data sets managed by the Media, Wireline Competition, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus and consider future needs. Each of the three Bureaus has compiled a working inventory of their respective data collections to make it easier for everyone—not just those who file information year in and year out—to provide us with comments and insights on innovating how the agency collects, uses, analyzes, and shares information.

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