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Commission Hosts 600 MHz Band Plan Workshop

by Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
May 7, 2013

The FCC hosted a public workshop Friday as part of its LEARN program.  The workshop focused on how best to structure the 600 MHz wireless band plan in the upcoming incentive auction.  In proposing a band plan, the Commission focused on five key policy goals: utility, certainty, interchangeability, quantity, and interoperability.  The workshop focused on tradeoffs of elements within these goals to achieve balance.

At the workshop, FCC staff moderated a highly informative discussion among stakeholders representing a wide range of interests, including television broadcasters, licensed mobile broadband providers, device and component manufacturers, and other interested parties. 

Friday’s discussion indicated support for many of the band plan elements proposed in our Incentive Auction NPRM.  We also received valuable input regarding some of the more challenging issues associated with developing the 600 MHz band plan.  In particular, we had very productive technical discussions on intermodulation and harmonics interference, mobile antenna issues, filter pass band issues, and how to accommodate technical flexibility in the band.  

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4/25 #GIRLSTECHDAY Twitter Chat Recap

by Brittany L. Stevenson, New Media Associate
April 29, 2013

On April 25, the FCC was proud to celebrate International Girls’ in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Day with a Twitter chat focusing on how ICT has helped improve the lives of women and girls in their careerseducation, and health

The purpose of International Girls’ in ICT Day is to promote gender equality in the growing field of information and communication technologies by encouraging school-aged girls to consider a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEMeducation or a tech career.  Technology plays an increasingly important role in all aspects of our lives.

“ICT is one of the fastest growing job sectors and one of the best paying.  The U.S. Bureau of labor statistics estimates a 21.8% growth in ICT jobs in the United States by 2020. At the same time, there is such a big talent gap in ICT that there will only be enough qualified workers to fill one third of those jobs. On the bright side, this situation presents a great economic opportunity for anyone considering a career in ICT.” Excerpt from Opening Statement for International Girls in ICT Day Ambassador Betty E. King

For the 1ST time, an FCC commissioner, Mingnon Clyburn, participated in an FCC-hosted Twitter chat by giving opening remarks:

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Encouraging the Growth of Women’s Technical Talent

April 25, 2013
Monique Morrow

I am a proud engineer and technologist, but it has not been an easy journey as a woman in a sea of men. Therefore, I am glad that there is a growing global movement to encourage female technical talent. Recent data shows that there is a business imperative to hire more women:

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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

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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An Update: Driving Innovation and Reforms from the International Bureau

by Mindel De La Torre, International Bureau Chief
April 23, 2013

The Commission recently adopted the Second Report and Order on Foreign Ownership (“Order”) to overhaul and streamline the way it reviews foreign ownership of U.S. wireless companies under sections 310(b)(3) and (b)(4) of the Communications Act.  These reforms will dramatically reduce the number of hours applicants spend to prepare required filings, as well as lower, by up to 70%, the number of such filings annually.;

This Order is the latest in a series of regulatory reform and data innovation efforts we in the International Bureau have taken under the leadership of Chairman Genachowski.  I’d like to take this occasion to highlight these reform accomplishments and to thank the excellent staff in the Bureau and the Commission for their efforts to streamline and improve the way we interact with industry and the public.

A guiding principle of our regulatory reform efforts has been to achieve flexible, common sense, market-based, data-driven and targeted regulatory frameworks that are informed by our experience and made in consultation with a broad set of stakeholders, including industry, commenters, and relevant Executive Branch agencies.  They also demonstrate that there are several approaches to regulatory reform, including identifying and eliminating unnecessary rules, streamlining required rules, and refocusing existing rules to meet technological and market sector changes.

In addition to the foreign ownership streamlining action, here are just a few of the significant reform efforts we have taken over the last four years:

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A Model for Connecting Rural America to Broadband

by By Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
April 22, 2013

The FCC reached another milestone today in its implementation of Universal Service reforms to ensure rural Americans have access to voice and robust broadband services – including extending broadband to the millions of Americans that are unserved today. 

Our primary tool to achieve this goal is the transformation of the former high-cost fund – the program supporting rural voice service – to a Connect America Fund supporting modern networks that provide both broadband and voice service.  Phase II implementation is well underway for those areas of the country where 80% of unserved Americans live and key to this transformation is targeting funding efficiently to the areas where it is needed most, outside areas where competitive providers operate. With our last Broadband Progress Report, we posted an online map of broadband service today, including the unserved areas where 19 million Americans live.

Today’s milestone – a Report and Order– is the next step toward adopting a final cost model that will pinpoint as accurately as possible how much support is needed, on a granular (census- block) level, to deliver both voice and broadband, without overspending.  The model framework – an “efficient provider framework” – adopted by Commission staff today resolves key assumptions about the design of the network and network engineering, including by:

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WCB Cost Model Virtual Workshop 2012 -Operating Expenses Input Values

April 11, 2013

Please provide comments to the issue below as part of the 2012 WCB cost model virtual workshop for inclusion in the record. Comments are moderated for conformity to the workshop’s guidelines.

Background

The Connect America Cost Model (CACM) calculates monthly operating expenses (opex) generally as a dollar amount representing a percentage of capital investment or a percentage of assumed average revenue per user (ARPU). Here we describe in more detail the methodology used to develop opex values and seek comment on whether any adjustments should be made to the specific input values currently contained in CACM version 3.0.

Parties who have signed the Third Supplemental Protective Order may view the CACM version 3.0 opex input values, along with a more detailed description of how the inputs were calculated and supporting spreadsheets, by accessing the model, visiting the Resources page, and opening the Opex Overview file.

CACM uses publicly-available data where possible for opex input values, supplemented by other sources where there is no readily-available public source of information for opex, to develop baseline opex amounts per month per subscriber line, by company size. Opex input values vary depending on classification of the company size at the holding company level as described in the OCNCoSize input table.

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Women in Information, Communications, and Technology Twitter Chat

April 2, 2013

On March 28, in celebration of Women’s History month, the FCC hosted a twitter chat focusing on Women in Information Communications and Technology (ICT).  The four panelists come from various sections of ICT: Ann Gallagher, Electronics; Engineer at the FCC; Rachel Payne, Founder & CEO of Fem Inc.; Alyssa Wright, Vice President and Director of Solutions at Open Geo; & Kate Chapman, Executive Director at Humanitarian Open Street Map. The chat highlighted their experiences, expertise, educational backgrounds, and words of wisdom to those interested in ICT.

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The FCC would like to acknowledge and show appreciation to the 166 Twitter users who participated and/or promoted our hour-long discussion through enlightening and original tweets, retweets, and questions. Thank you for helping us reach more than 768,000 people with over 32 million impressions for our WICT chat.  This chat was successful due to our panelists, and the active engagement of our followers and chat participants sharing their experiences, offering tips, and asking questions about ICT.  

Useful Tips identified in the Twitter chat for Women in ICT:

1.      Build your people-network to learn about opportunities, seek a mentor, and find a “champion” to help you climb the professional ladder.

2.      Support other women -- pitch in, help out, do something to widen the net of success for all women.

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3…2…1…EveryoneOn! Connect2Compete and the Ad Council Launch New Digital Literacy Campaign

by Kevin Almasy and Maya Uppaluru, Public Private Initiatives
March 21, 2013

March 21 marks the launch of “EveryoneOn,” a nationwide public education campaign to help all Americans access technology through free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers.

In the 21st century workforce, it has never been more important to possess digital skills. Yet, more than 100 million Americans do not have a broadband connection at home, and 62 million do not use the Internet at all. Closing the digital divide is a critical issue for the country, and EveryoneOn is rising to meet the challenge.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “The costs of digital exclusion – of not having access to Internet at home–are rising every day. Offline Americans are missing out on opportunities in education, health care, and employment. I applaud the “EveryoneOn” campaign to onboard the millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide and deliver the digital literacy skills required to succeed in today’s economy.” 

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also voiced her support for EveryoneOn, stating: “While our nation’s digital divide is indeed shrinking, we must come to terms with the fact that a staggering 62 million Americans remain offline, severely limiting their access to critical information and vital services.  The benefits of connectivity are endless – you literally have the world at your fingertips. That is why I am excited about the potential of EveryoneOn, a new public education campaign powered by Connect2Compete, which meets non-digital natives where they are and encourages them to venture online where their natural skills may be enhanced and their day-to-day needs may be realized more efficiently.”

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Sunshine Week: Open Government and Transparency

by Sean Lev, General Counsel
March 15, 2013

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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