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Official FCC Blog

May, 2012

Thoughts on the Digital Government Strategy

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
May 24, 2012 - 05:47 PM

On a regular basis, I find myself working with increasingly bigger datasets, and investigating increasingly more complicated patterns. However, as data gets bigger and more complicated, government IT budgets are getting smaller. At the same time, the public expects government to quickly provide open access to data in a wide range of formats and delivery mechanisms. This leads to a conundrum - we understand that data is capable of many types of outputs, and we must allow it to serve as many uses as possible while keeping costs to a minimum.

This week the Federal CIO released a strategy for ‘Digital Government’ which challenges us to innovate to meet these growing demands. The strategy contains four themes: information-centric, shared platform, customer-centric, and security. This broad approach to information technologies provides the innovative foundation for the entire strategy. Key to this approach is making our data more open by decoupling it from any predefined presentation layer; in short, publishing data as simple services which anyone can access. The strategy calls for using APIs as a cornerstone to this decoupling.

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Channel Sharing Workshop: Just the Sort of Input We Need

by Bill Lake, Chief, Media Bureau
May 24, 2012 - 04:30 PM

We held a workshop on channel sharing this week, to explore the practical business and operational challenges facing broadcasters who may want to try this innovative way to use spectrum more efficiently.  Over 200 people participated in person and over the web, making it a successful kickoff to a series of events through which we’ll invite input that will help us to implement our new incentive auction authority.

We proposed channel sharing as a way for broadcasters to contribute much-needed spectrum in connection with an incentive auction, enjoy the financial benefits of sharing in auction proceeds, and at the same time stay on the air to serve their viewers.  Our panel of broadcast professionals discussed the business models that might fit with channel sharing and the practicalities of putting together a channel sharing arrangement.

The panelists, a number of whom have clients actively considering channel sharing, shared with us their insights into wide-ranging issues, including –

  • the types of stations for which channel sharing would be an appropriate business decision;
  • how stations would go about choosing partners;
  • what kinds of provisions channel sharing agreements should contain;
  • how to handle the possible termination of a channel sharing arrangement; and
  • potential collusive behavior that stations negotiating channel sharing agreements might need to avoid.

While it seems accepted that the technology exits to implement channel sharing, the discussion also covered a number of technical issues about how it might be implemented.

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FCC.GOV Redesign: One year later…

May 22, 2012 - 01:50 PM

A little more than a year ago, the FCC launched its first website redesign in nearly a decade. Building a website that serves many audiences is a complex challenge. And it is a challenge best met in partnership with the site’s frequent users. Included with the launch were prompts inviting our Web audience to tell us what they think, suggest improvements and report problems. We have responded to a significant portion of these so far and continue to do so.

In the last year, we have also:

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Final Plan for Retrospective Review of Regulations at the FCC

by Jennifer Tatel, Associate General Counsel
May 18, 2012 - 03:30 PM

The FCC continues to make agency reform a top priority. A key focus of this reform has been carrying out our statutory mission in a way that recognizes changes in technology and the marketplace and reduces burdens on business and industry while promoting incentives for investment and promoting economic growth.

Last year, the President issued an Executive Order to the heads of all independent agencies, including the FCC. The new Executive Order builds on the President's January 2011 Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and asks independent agencies to conduct both retrospective and prospective regulatory analyses, consistent with law. Chairman Genachowski has said the agency would act in accordance with the new Executive Order, and that he expects all FCC Bureaus and Offices will perform their responsibilities consistent with the order.

In November 2011, we developed a Preliminary Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules, which recognized the importance of retrospective analysis and identified numerous Commission proceedings that predated the Executive Order, as the FCC historically has incorporated retrospective review into its rulemaking process.  The Preliminary Plan also described the ongoing agency-wide process of identifying outmoded or counterproductive rules.

Today, the agency releases our Final Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules. The Final Plan represents the Commission’s strategy for incorporating retrospective analysis into the agency’s processes for reviewing its rules.

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Bike to Work Day

by David Robbins, Managing Director
May 17, 2012 - 05:47 PM

The FCC’s growing community of cyclists has much to celebrate and be congratulated for as bicycling enthusiasts across the country mark National Bike Month.

Community events around the country have so far included Bike to School Day and Bike to Work Week, culminating today in Bike to Work Day. Here at the Commission, they have also included two distinct honors.

On Wednesday, the Interagency Task Force for Bicycles and Active Transportation, created to implement President Obama’s executive order to promote a clean energy economy, named the FCC as the recipient of its first-ever Fedbikes Award. The award recognizes excellence in support for federal agency bicycle commuting.

And in April, the national League of American Bicyclists named the FCC as one of 67 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses. With its bronze-level certification, the Commission joins more than 400 local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies nationwide that are “transforming the American workplace” by supporting bicycle commuting, the League said.

The recognition is a credit to an FCC cyclist community that works passionately, and with strong support from Chairman Genachowski and Commission leadership, to promote and support bicycle commuting throughout the agency. Among the many accomplishments to date:

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Countdown to IPv6

by Henning Schulzrinne, Chief Technology Officer
May 16, 2012 - 04:48 PM

What if I told you that the world was running out of postal addresses or phone numbers, and that, in less than two months, many companies you regularly do business with will have a new system of contact information?  You’d want to learn more about this system and perhaps make a few preparations, right?  Such a big transition is not happening for postal addresses or phone numbers, but something close to that is happening for Internet addresses.

World IPv6 Launch Day is on June 6, 2012.  On that day, many Internet service providers (ISPs), manufacturers of networking equipment (such as routers) and web-based companies will permanently enable Internet Protocol version Six (IPv6) for their products and services.  As part of this event, consumers, businesses, governments, charities and anyone else that relies on the Internet are encouraged to check their computers and network equipment for IPv6 readiness.

A little background: In order for devices to find each other and connect over the Internet, each device must have an Internet protocol (IP) address.  The current IP system is Version 4 (IPv4), which makes available over four billion IP addresses.  However, the huge increase in Internet users and devices worldwide means that IPv4 addresses are running out.  IPv6, the next-generation protocol, provides approximately 340 undecillion IP addresses (that’s 340 with 36 digits after it), ensuring availability of new IP addresses far into the future, as well as promoting the continued expansion and innovation of the Internet.

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Chairman Genachowski Visits Consumers Union’s Testing Lab, Discusses FCC Consumer Empowerment Agenda

by William D. Freedman, Deputy Chief, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
May 11, 2012 - 12:08 PM


Chairman Genachowski at Consumers Union national headquarters in Yonkers, New York.
Chairman Genachowski at Consumers Union national headquarters in Yonkers, New York.


Last week, Chairman Julius Genachowski visited the Consumers Union (CU) national headquarters in Yonkers, New York. The headquarters is home to CU’s National Testing and Research Center, which includes extensive in-house laboratories where consumer products are tested.  The organization also famously publishes Consumer Reports.

On the laboratory tour, Chairman Genachowski joined Jim Guest, CU CEO and Consumer Reports President, to watch CU’s expert testing team evaluate smartphones and 3D televisions, discuss acoustics in a sound testing lab, and tour a situational “living room,” in which trained consumers rate products in a true-to-life environment. 

In addition to witnessing first-hand the testing labs at CU, Chairman Genachowski also discussed a number of consumer issues with the organization’s leadership, including, FCC initiatives to combat cell phone theft, prevent “bill shock”, and phone cramming and hidden fees on prepaid calling cards.

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Girls in Information and Communication Technology Day

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
May 8, 2012 - 05:45 PM

On Thursday, April 26, I had the honor of speaking at the International Telecommunication Union's event marking Girls in ICT Day in New York. I joined successful, thoughtful and dynamic women to figure out how we can help get more girls and women into ICTs (information and communication technologies). You can watch the event, read about it, see the agenda, and view pictures too.

Girls In Tech Day - Commissioner ClyburnThe statistics reveal how real this digital gender divide is in the United States. The ICT industry accounts for one-sixth of the United States’ gross domestic product, but between 1990 and 2005, only one in four communications jobs created were filled by women. Of all Fortune 500 communications companies, women comprise a mere 15% of top executives. Why should women be left out of a field with such opportunity?

During my panel, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, said that ICTs could be the key to solving unemployment in Europe. She also spoke passionately about the urgent need to get girls into tech today so that they become tomorrow’s ICT leaders. I agree with her. As I told the conference participants, Dr. King had it right when he wrote from the Birmingham jail: "More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will."

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