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August 5, 2010 - 11:07 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]This week the Federal Communications Commission, acting as a partner in the National Broadband Map for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is releasing a transfer data model of the State Broadband Data Development Program data from state ‘Awardees’ to us here at the FCC.  I just want to comment on a couple of things with this news.

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Do you know your cloud speed?

by Johnnie Muongpack, New Media
August 4, 2010 - 03:42 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:197:height=100,width=70]]"The Cloud", the current buzz word running through the Federal government these days. It's helping to change the way we view, manage and access servers. If you are still learning about "the cloud" and want to know how it works, watch this video.
We know how it works, but how do we test the performance of a Cloud service? One new tool called Cloudsleuth (in beta) helps to answer these questions by visualizing the user experience. What it measures are the response time and availability measured by the Gomez Performance Network. This metric relies on two different components of the GPN, Gomez Active Backbone nodes and Gomez Last Mile peers. You can read more about the GPN here.
What's great about the tool is the ability to test the response time of the Cloud. As you know we love to test speeds, try it yourself with our consumer broadband test. For example, since we are located in Washington, DC, the test shows that accessing a cloud in this area yields a response time of .5 sec. But if I had accessed that cloud in Los Angeles, the test shows a response time of 5.5 sec longer. Knowing this information can help your internal workflows or compare performance when choosing a cloud service.
Currently, monitored providers include Microsoft Azure, OpSource, Amazon EC2, GoGrid, Google, and Rackspace Cloud.

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Data Innovation Initiative: Spectrum Auctions - Data, Benefits Abound

August 4, 2010 - 12:06 PM

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Data is important to the success of the FCC in carrying out its responsibilities. One such responsibility is management of wireless spectrum, including the FCC's spectrum auction program. Spectrum auctions are widely recognized as the most efficient, effective, and transparent means to assign initial commercial licenses to use the nation's airwaves. They help to ensure that spectrum resources are put to their best economic use – and wireless service has taken off as a result.

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CTIA, the Wireless Association, estimates that there are now over 285 million wireless subscribers in the US, generating revenue of over $150 billion annually. And, FCC spectrum auctions have generated $52 billion in revenue since the program's inception. When one considers the additional tax revenue from a growing industry, as well as the "consumer surplus" of wireless services, the benefit of auctions look even more significant as a means to facilitate wireless growth.

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/Consumers Guide

August 3, 2010 - 12:21 PM

Earlier this month, we launched the Consumer Help Center. If you haven't already had a chance to explore our key features, this video guides you through some consumer tools you can use, such as how to:

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Foreign Diplomacy In D.C.

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
August 2, 2010 - 06:30 AM

I had the pleasure last week of meeting several distinguished international colleagues, beginning on Tuesday morning, with a delegation from the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT). Members of the Spanish telecommunications regulatory authority met with various U.S. companies and government agencies to learn more about the U.S. telecommunications market, and specifically, the FCC’s regulatory agenda—particularly in the area of broadband deployment, open Internet, next generation networks, and Internet governance. Then on Wednesday afternoon I had a delightful and informative meeting with Emmanuel Gabla, Commissioner for the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) and his delegation. Among the many obligations of CSA is the responsibility for implementing France’s digital television transition. The French began the switch to standard definition DTV in 2009 on a regional basis and established a 2011 cutoff for all analog TV broadcasts. In France, several agencies govern different aspects of communications policy. Since Commissioner Gabla has worked at agencies that regulate the wireline, wireless, and now media communications, he was able to educate me on the history of a wide-range of French communications policy. I really appreciate the time that these delegations spent with me this week and would like to recognize the tremendous support of Mindel De La Torre and her staff at the International Bureau for making these exchanges possible.

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Demystifying Primary Jurisdiction Referrals

July 29, 2010 - 10:00 AM

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Most people who work in the area of communications law and policy have heard the term “primary jurisdiction referral.”  But myths and misconceptions abound, and they are shared by litigants, lawyers, and even judges.  This post is intended to clear up some of the confusion.

In the communications law context, a primary jurisdiction referral typically occurs when private litigants raise an issue in court (most often a federal district court) that involves a contested interpretation of the Communications Act, the FCC’s rules, or an FCC order – in other words, a dispute over an issue that the Commission has the congressionally delegated authority to resolve.  In most instances, the dispute also lies within the court’s subject matter jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, the court, recognizing that the FCC also has jurisdiction over the matter and may be better suited to answer the particular issue in the first instance, may elect to invoke the doctrine of primary jurisdiction and stay its hand to permit the FCC to decide the issue.

Here is where the confusion begins.  The term “primary jurisdiction referral” is a misnomer – the court refers nothing to the FCC.  Rather, the court will stay – that is, suspend action on – the judicial proceeding (or dismiss the case without prejudice) and direct the litigants to initiate an administrative proceeding before the FCC seeking resolution of the particular issue.  Thus, the parties to the litigation – not the court – must take affirmative steps to effectuate a primary jurisdiction “referral” to the FCC.

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FCC on YouTube

by Beverlie Sopiep, New Media
July 28, 2010 - 01:33 PM

New Media Intern Beverlie Sopiep

Missed the July Commission Meeting live? Don’t know what spectrum is? Need help filing a complaint with the FCC?

All these videos and more are on the FCC YouTube channel. Our YouTube account serves as a repository for all Open Commission Meetings, workshops, and events. So if you missed a live event on Reboot or need to re-watch past meetings or events, it will most likely be here.

Through these videos, we aim to give the public a better sense of what we do as an agency as well as a behind the scenes look at some of the faces creating these policies and initiatives. As the FCC video library expands, we’re working on setting a great standard for video quality, featuring interesting and informative content that’s presented well. I think we’ll be there soon.
We want our videos to be interesting to watch. Please let us know in the comments below what kinds of videos you would like to see, what you like and don’t like that we’ve done so far.
 
Below is an example of one video that I like.
 
Members from the Broadband taskforce visited parts of Europe and talked about how they pursued national broadband policy. What I like about the video is not only the content but also creative shots showing the Eiffel tower outside of the window. These small details make the video more interesting.
 
Thanks for watching!
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One-Stop-Shopping For Consumers

July 27, 2010 - 05:45 PM

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The FCC's website has always had lots of information of interest to consumers but, starting today, this information is just one click away. Today we are launching the Consumer Help Center. This site makes it easy for consumers to learn about our work and take action. Here, in one place, consumers can do read about consumer issues, get practical advice for avoiding problems, file a complaint, comment on our rulemakings, or read what our FCC experts are saying in our Consumer Blog. The site includes links to

  • Everything consumers need to know about Bill Shock and Early Termination Fees — two common issues that affect wireless customers;
  • Savvy Traveler tips — advice on making phone calls when travelling abroad;
  • Broadband Speed Test — consumers can test the speed of their broadband service;
  • Fact Sheet Library — more than 150 consumer Fact Sheets on telecom subjects;
  • Links to additional resources on a range of issues, including privacy;
  • Links to file a complaint to the FCC or comment on our rulemakings;
  • Blog posts about consumer issues — with consumer comments welcome;
  • News releases, statements, and FCC actions.

This is a work in progress and will be updated as more information is added. Please let us know what you think about the site. We're listening.

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Another Savvy Traveler: I did my homework and saved money

July 27, 2010 - 04:55 PM

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Using a wireless phone in other countries can be easy and economical if you do your homework before you start your trip. The best solution for me was to leave my U.S. smartphone turned off and to purchase a world phone (the phone on the right in the photo above).

I knew I wanted to take a wireless phone on a trip to Europe earlier this summer, but I was concerned about the cost – especially unknown roaming fees. I did my homework and looked at the options. The solution for me was to use a wireless world phone I had already purchased online. But I did check with my wireless provider here in the U.S. about standard international and discount plan rates to see if their rates were lower than my world phone's. After comparing the numbers it was clearly cheaper for me to stick with my world phone than to go with my U.S. phone provider's discount plan. A representative at my wireless provider's retail store even agreed.

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My needs were simple. I had free WiFi where I stayed so I didn't need to retrieve email or do any web browsing on my phone. All I wanted was to place and receive wireless phone calls for making or confirming restaurant reservations, asking for directions, and just to have for emergencies — that sort of thing. My world phone was perfect for this. I went to the provider's site and looked up the per minute charges for calls to and from France and Spain, and to and from the U.S. I probably made about a dozen calls during my 8-day trip and when I returned home and checked my online statement, I was charged exactly as quoted on the site, no more, no less.

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Bureau Waiver Fosters Innovation and Competition in the Mobile DTV Marketplace

July 27, 2010 - 11:49 AM

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The Media Bureau's recent decision to waive some of the tuner requirements for Mobile DTV devices not only gives manufacturers greater flexibility in how they design and market these new receivers, it ensures the devices can be in the hands of consumers in time for the 2010 holiday season. Mobile DTV, or MDTV, is a kind of television service designed for use on-the-go instead of in a single location.

Current FCC rules require that all television receivers have the ability to get both digital and analog signals. Although full-power television stations stopped broadcasting in analog last year, the analog broadcast standard remains in use by some low-power broadcasters. Until the requirement is removed, television manufacturers must ask the Commission's approval if they want to produce a device without an analog tuner.

A group of Mobile DTV manufacturers recently asked for this approval which, among other things, would eliminate their having to produce a potentially larger, heavier and pricier device that uses more power. We promptly approved their request, furthering the Commission's commitment to foster innovation and competition in the marketplace.

Where the service is available, consumers will be able to watch live MDTV on compliant netbooks, smartphones and portable TVs in their cars. Many MDTV devices also will be able to receive standard television. Look on the packaging to see whether a particular model receives MDTV signals only or if it also gets nationwide standard DTV signals. The device will not only provide news and entertainment while on the move, it will be another way to receive critical information in times of emergency.

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