Remarks by Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn
Re: Technology Transitions Policy Task Force Presentation
December 12, 2013Technology and technical advancements have truly transformed lives. For consumers
with disabilities, these transitions have opened many doors. Texting, face-to-face video, and
services such as video relay service or VRS have removed barriers to communications and are
enabling on par exchanges. So it pleases me to learn that the Commission will be building on the
VRS Order with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute on
Aging regarding joint efforts to research the effectiveness of relay services for older adults with
hearing disabilities or deafness.
I am excited about the future as it holds incredible promise for the delivery of innovative
services, higher capacity speeds, and the introduction of next generation 911 with features such
as video calls, which should provide more reliable and redundant public safety networks.
At the same time, I remain committed to ensuring that this Commission stays true to
those core values embodied in the statute: (1) to promote competition, (2) to protect consumers,
(3) to advance universal service, and (4) to promote robust and resilient public safety networks.
Technology transitions along with their challenges and opportunities are not new. They
have taken place continuously throughout the last century. As these transitions have occurred,
the FCC’s commitment to the public interest has remained constant even as policies changed to
reflect the times. So, I am particularly pleased that the Task Force’s principles for action include
a commitment to protect these fundamental principles.
The challenge now is for the Commission to determine how best to modernize rules to
encourage innovation and investment while at the same time advancing these core values. I am
pleased that Chairman Wheeler is moving ahead with trials to help inform how to update our
policies. If structured properly, trials could provide the Commission and the states with
considerable insight on how to reform our policies.
As we evaluate our next steps, I will keep a keen eye on how these transitions and
proposed reforms impact consumers and competition. The Commission has an opportunity to
facilitate innovation particularly in the area of next generation 911 and for persons with
disabilities. The recommendation about proposed research and development on the impact of the
IP transitions on persons with disabilities is a great way for the Commission to gather data and
develop appropriate policies. I look forward to working with the Chairman and my fellow
commissioners to make sure this occurs.
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