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Public Safety Outreach in the Carolinas

May 25, 2010 - 02:00 PM

By Louis Sigalos, Robert Kenny, Todd Mitchell, Paul Coburn, and Doug Miller, Public Safety Outreach Team.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:150:height=98,width=70]]With an outreach and education mission, traveling via the long lonesome highway, covering two states in three days, five intrepid travelers set forth from the comfort of their offices on May 11, 2010.  And now members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) and the Enforcement Bureau have met with public safety officials in two more states that could be vulnerable during the upcoming hurricane season. We were also joined by a National Communications System (NCS) staff member.  A similar outreach tour with our federal partners of the Gulf States in 2009 included stops in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and meetings with more than 350 public safety officials to hear their stories.  Now, we have added the Atlantic Coast States of South Carolina and North Carolina.

In South Carolina, we learned that the biggest concerns are hurricanes, nuclear plant disasters, hazmat spills, AND earthquakes. In fact, that morning of May 12, residents in Charleston, SC experienced an earthquake that registered 2.8 on the Richter scale.  The state sits on a fault line, and unfortunately projections do call for a much larger earthquake to occur in that region at some point according to scientists.  We were also invited by South Carolina officials to participate in a major planning exercise being conducted in June and we learned that South Carolina has implemented a program called SC HEART that enlists hospital workers/HAM operators to provide back-up communications during emergencies.

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Reflections from the Chairman on the May Commission Meeting

May 21, 2010 - 01:28 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]Chairman Genachowski provides his thoughts on yesterday’s Open Commission Meeting in the below video blog.

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Your input matters - Consolidated Licensing System (CLS) outreach continues

May 21, 2010 - 12:10 PM

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Following our first CLS Public Workshop on May 6th we are actively continuing our efforts to get customer input. On May 18th we were invited to hold a CLS brainstorming session at the Spectrum Management Association Conference in Arlington, VA.

This was a very active session reinforcing many of the insightful suggestions we received at the earlier workshop. The participants at this session included: licensee, third party filers, and other federal government agencies. Many of the participants offered a unique perspective and very valuable feedback.

The suggestions ranged for recommendations for improving the access, and search capabilities to our licensing data, to collecting additional technical data in CLS. Participants also offered suggestions on cleaning up the data in the Commission Registration System (CORES) and recommended creating linkages between the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) Database and CLS.

The recommendations did not stop there; we went on to discuss enhanced mapping capabilities as well as the need for user testing, training and manuals as we move forward with the new system.

When addressing participants at the CLS Public Workshop on May 6th Mary Beth Richards, Special Counsel to the Chairman on FCC Forum reinforced that we need to hear from you. She asked participants "to please be forthcoming, and creative, and that we look forward to hearing from you." It was obvious at this session that our customers are up to the task.

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State and Local Groups: FCC Webinar Event on May 25th

May 21, 2010 - 11:08 AM

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SAVE THE DATE:  Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm Eastern time

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) is staffing a special series of interactive web events.  These outreach webinars are designed to share vital information about Commission actions and priorities and improve federal/state dialogue and information sharing.

The first of this event series, similar to some of the National Broadband Plan workshops that took place at the Commission, will take place on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm Eastern time. The FCC is seeking a two way dialogue on key events and issues related to telecommunications and for us to learn and/or partner with state and local governments and their organizations.

You can view the webcast at fcc.gov/live.

The e-mail address where questions can be e-mailed on May 25th during the webcast is:  livequestions@fcc.gov.

For more information about the kick-off State and Local Groups Webinar, contact:
Emmitt Carlton, emmitt.carlton@fcc.gov, (202) 418-7321 or
Carmen Scanlon, carmen.scanlon@fcc.gov, (303) 418-0544

AGENDA

2:05 - 2:10 p.m.: Opening Session, Welcoming Remarks
Gregory Vadas, Chief
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

2:10 - 2:35 p.m.: Overview of the National Broadband Plan
Phoebe Yang, General Counsel
Omnibus Broadband Initiative

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FCC Grants in Part, Denies in Part NARUC Petition on State Broadband Data Collection

May 18, 2010 - 07:09 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:255:height=100,width=70]]I joined IGA as a Special Counsel in July 2009 after working as an Attorney, FCC Office of General Counsel, Associate Director,  Office of Legislative Affairs, Chief Counsel and Staff Director, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, and Staff Attorney, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure. Since 1985, I’ve also been an Adjunct Professor, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, teaching media law and First Amendment law.

In an action that should be of interest to followers of state broadband deployment and mapping initiatives, the FCC on April 26, 2010, granted in part and denied in part a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The petition concerned state authority to collect data from broadband infrastructure and service providers.

The Commission clarified, as NARUC requested in its petition, that the FCC “has not preempted or otherwise precluded the States from mandating that broadband providers file data or other information regarding broadband infrastructure or services within the States.”  Citing the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), the FCC Order on the NARUC petition notes that “Congress recognized in the BDIA that State broadband data gathering can be ‘complementary’ to federal efforts.”

The Commission, however, declined to rule on the question of whether or not the States have or should have the authority to collect broadband-related data.

Click here for more information on the NARUC petition.

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A Celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage

May 18, 2010 - 10:16 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:234:height=102,width=70]]Over one hundred Commission employees were witness to a remarkable presentation yesterday morning in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage month in the Commission Meeting Room. Here’s a rough rundown of the program. The morning started off with Yul Kwon, Deputy Bureau Chief in CGB and today’s master of ceremonies, giving a brief introduction to the assembled crowd. He began by sharing a bit about why he chose to compete in the Survivor program, which he won in 2006. Great misperceptions about Asians persist, Kwon said, and going on Survivor gave him the platform to counter many of these in front of a worldwide audience.

 

(View the full photo set of the above pictures from yesterday's event. Photo credit: Jenny Hou)

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Workshop on Expanding Disability Access with Wireless Technologies

by Ruth Milkman, Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
May 12, 2010 - 10:07 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:186:height=100,width=70]]Wireless technologies present tremendous opportunities to benefit all Americans, including those with disabilities. At the FCC, we are excited about these possibilities for innovative communications services, applications and devices. We want to better understand how such technologies can bring more access to more people, and how the FCC can help ensure new technologies as inclusive as possible.

On Thursday, May 13th, the Commission will be exploring these issues during a workshop called "Expanding Disability Access with Wireless Technologies." I hope that everyone who is interested will join us in the Commission Meeting Room or via the web from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If that time doesn't work for you, the workshop will also be available online afterwards.

The first panel will focus on current access challenges. We will be discussing mobile communications access issues facing people with disabilities and disparities in technology access. During that session, we will be asking our panelists to give us their thoughts on questions such as:

  • What are the key disabilities access challenges that need addressing?
  • How is current technology trying to meet these challenges?
  • What emerging technologies will better meet these challenges?
  • Are there current regulatory barriers that deter technological innovation or negatively affect emerging technologies?

Our second panel will explore technology trends. During this session we will discuss ways in which new technologies can offer opportunities to overcome challenges in access to mobile communications. We will be looking at issues such as:

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Consumer View: Stop the Shock

May 11, 2010 - 12:45 PM

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It could happen to anyone, and it happened to me. Last year, I took on a consulting job that involved working out of town. Without realizing it, I began using my cell phone more frequently and for longer conversations. By the time I caught the problem, my monthly bill had gone from about $300 a month to well over $500, two months in a row. I worked out a compromise payment with my carrier and changed to a plan with more monthly minutes. I had learned about bill shock first-hand.

Bill shock – surprising jumps in cell-phone bills that happen without warning – is a common and serious problem. The FCC's Consumer Center receives complaints all the time from people whose bills may double or triple, going up by hundreds of dollars in a single month. Sometimes cell-phone carriers contact customers when they see an unusual calling pattern, as mine did, to their credit. Often they don't, and the bills go up.

Bill shock has been a major problem in Europe, where you can go into an international calling zone, at international rates, with as little effort as it takes Americans to drive from one state to another. The European press has reported many cases of bills reaching thousands of Euros. Now the European Union has taken action. Cell-phone carriers in Europe are now required to alert their customers when they're approaching the limit of their calling plans. This simple solution, which has just gone into effect, should be a practical way to prevent bill shock. At the least, it will ensure that every customer has fair warning.

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Panel to Discuss Future of Spectrum Dashboard 2.0

by James Brown, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
May 10, 2010 - 04:34 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:120:height=100,width=70]]Last week the FCC announced the eleven panelists for the Spectrum Dashboard public forum this Wednesday, May 12th.

With wide experience in the public and private sectors, the panelists will share their perspectives on the Spectrum Dashboard - how they currently use it and what they would like to see in a Spectrum Dashboard 2.0, anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The forum is scheduled for this Wednesday, May 12 from 10:00am to 1pm (EDT) and is open to the publi.  For those attending in person, the event will take place in the FCC’s Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.  Note that attendance is limited by available seating, but the event can be viewed online at http://www.fcc.gov/live or using Webex.

Meet the Panelists

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Louisiana, Mississippi, And Alabama Bring First Responders Closer Together As U.S. Takes Action To Contain Gulf Oil Spill And Protect The Shoreline

May 7, 2010 - 05:15 PM

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States of Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Orange, Beach, AL, Create Seamless, Interoperable Communications from the Texas Southeast Border to Pensacola, Florida

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As the crew of the MV Joe Griffin is in the Gulf of Mexico working to lower a 100-ton concrete and steel containment dome over the oil well that erupted on April 20, federal, state and local officials continue to take actions to help minimize further damage to the Gulf Coast's shorelines.

In any disaster, an effective response requires reliable, seamless and robust communications that enable all levels of government and first responders to communicate with one another and share time-sensitive information and relevant data. Information on the latest situation, the availability of resources and the capability to use those resources is critical to government's ability to continuously analyze the situation and deploy a rapid, effective and sustained response.

There are many heroes emerging from this disaster. This week we received correspondence from Benjamin Bourgoyne, Communications Section Chief for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in the State of Louisiana. Mr. Bourgoyne informed the FCC and other federal partners that they, along with the State of Mississippi, and Orange Beach, Alabama, had taken the lead in creating an interoperable wireless communications network for states along the entire Gulf Coast, stretching from the Texas Southeast border to Pensacola, Florida. They were able to create this interoperable network by initiating a number of 700 MHz trunked public safety radio talk groups on the respective wireless information networks in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

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