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Blog Posts by Sean Lev

Moving Forward with Technology Transitions Trials

by Sean Lev, General Counsel and Interim Director, Technology Transitions Task Force
May 10, 2013 - 12:59 PM

Today, the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force issued a Public Notice proposing to conduct real-world trials and seeking input on specific potential trials.  The goal of any trials will be to assist the Commission in ensuring that its policy decisions relating to ongoing technology transitions are solidly grounded in good data.

Communications networks are changing from copper to fiber and from time division multiplexing (TDM) to Internet protocols; wireless voice and data services are increasingly important.  These are exciting developments.  The ongoing technology transitions hold the promise for tremendous benefits for consumers.  Among other things, these new technologies can deliver higher quality service and higher speed broadband to more Americans.  IP-based networks also make it easier to deploy feature-rich next-generation 911 systems.   At the same time, we must ensure that the transitions preserve and advance the core values reflected in the Communications Act:  consumer protection, universal service, competition, and public safety.

To protect those core values, we need good data.  Indeed, Chairman Genachowski established the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force to “conduct a data driven review” as it formulates “recommendations to modernize the Commission’s policies.”  Accordingly, in March, the Task Force held a public workshop with experts from around the country.  The workshop focused on the capabilities and limitations of new and emerging technologies, the decisions consumers are making as they adopt voice and broadband services, and the plans of various providers in deploying the new technologies.

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The Network Technology Transitions: Enormous Opportunities, Some Key Challenges

by Sean Lev, General Counsel and Interim Director, Technology Transitions Policy Task Force
April 24, 2013 - 01:00 PM

The Technology Transitions Policy Task Force held its first workshop on March 18th.  We had many distinguished panelists—many of whom came from far outside the Beltway—and we are very grateful for their time and efforts.

As we had hoped, we learned many significant things from the discussion at the workshop that help us understand the technological transitions that are the focus of this Task Force—from TDM to IP, from copper to fiber, and from wireline to greater use of wireless networks.  I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the key takeaways.

First, we focused on capabilities and limitations of new and emerging technologies.  For example, panelists discussed MegaMIMO and its potential for stitching together overlapping wireless cells to increase data speeds for end users.  We also reviewed the cable industry’s DOCSIS 3.1 standard and its potential for serving businesses and consumers with speeds up to 1Gbps.  The panel also discussed how existing copper wires can provide significantly higher speed services through VDSL2 technology.  We also heard more about current trends in business voice and broadband—including the vociferous demand for wireless services among enterprise customers and the fixed-mobile convergence that IP-enabled networks will enable for businesses. At the same time, panelists emphasized that even with these technological evolutions that enable higher speeds over copper, there are limits to the technology, and copper may not be sufficient to meet broadband demand indefinitely. These and other  wired and wireless capabilities—and the financial and technical prerequisites for bringing those capacities to consumers—are important for us to keep in mind as we take a hard look at what these technologies mean for Commission policy.

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Sunshine Week: Open Government and Transparency

by Sean Lev, General Counsel
March 15, 2013 - 04:09 PM

The week of March 11, 2013 is Sunshine Week-- a national initiative to celebrate and focus on government transparency and open government.  The FCC joins the Department of Justice in celebrating efforts to increase public participation in government.  As part of those efforts, we want to share some tips for filing FOIA requests.

As the FCC’s Chief FOIA Officer, I am responsible for oversight of the implementation of the FOIA at the Commission.  My 2013 Annual Report (posted earlier this week) cited the progress we have made in our handling of FOIA requests.  Since last year, we have fewer backlogged FOIA appeals and all ten of the oldest pending FOIA appeals have been addressed. And, importantly, access to agency records continues to improve in large part because of a greater effort to post materials of interest on the web.  For a list of frequently requested items please visit the FCC Electronic Reading Room

This last point is particularly important because the more the Commission posts on its website, the less the public needs to use FOIA to obtain records.  The statistics prove the point.  The number of initial FOIA requests we received declined by 15% from FY 2011 to FY 2012 and continues to decline during FY 2013.

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