Archive for February, 2015

Technology Has Heart

Friday, February 27th, 2015

As we near the end of February — American Heart Month — and begin to look toward spring, it’s a good time to reflect on a critical health issue in the United States: heart disease. At the Connect2Health FCC Task Pressure, our goal is to better enable the use of broadband and advanced technology to help consumers get well and stay healthy. Heart disease, affecting a growing number of Americans each year, is an area ripe just for innovative technology-based solutions to improve the management, treatment, and ultimate avoidance.

The critical nature of this endeavor requires little explanation for in the words of Aristotle, “the heart is the perfection of the whole organism. ” And yet, despite its philosophical and biological significance, according to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both males and females with over 600, 000 life lost each year. That accounts for an astonishing 1 in every 4 fatalities. Furthermore, 1 in 3 United states adults currently have some form of heart disease.

As a physician, I have seen the devastating effects of advanced heart disease first hand. From repeat hospitalizations because of poorly controlled heart failure in order to emergency surgeries for heart episodes, the impact of heart disease is certainly profound. Fortunately, however , I have also seen the promise of broadband-enabled solutions to better prevent and manage this disease.

Take for example, one successful application for advanced monitoring of congestive heart failure, an often difficult to manage situation. In the past, patients with advanced coronary heart failure were monitored either simply by frequent doctors’ office visits or in-home nursing care. These techniques are costly, both in time and money. And for many in rural communities, basically beyond a health provider’s achieve. Now however , patients with coronary heart failure can be monitored at home via daily weigh-ins and vital sign checks that get transmitted electronically to the patient’s care team. This enables the team to immediately detect sudden weight gains (a sign of fluid overload from badly controlled heart failure) and get involved before the condition worsens.

Or, consider the new collaboration in between Qualcomm Incorporated and Walgreens which will enable consumers to connect their digital health devices (like a wrist-worn blood pressure cuff) and automatically capture all their health data in one location. To motivate consumers to participate, they can earn rewards for signing up for various health-related programs and monitoring progress toward a goal. Another instance might be the stunning prediction manufactured by Singularity University professor and tech entrepreneur Vivak Wadhwa, who predicted in 2013 that within 2-3 years there would be an app which could diagnose heart health better than a cardiologist!

In the end though, the most effective approach to managing heart disease, would be to prevent it in the first place. The United states Heart Association and CDC offer several recommendations for prevention ranging from shedding pounds improvements to blood pressure monitoring. Again, broadband-enabled technologies, like the increasingly typical fitness tracker and other wireless displays, can help consumers embrace these recommendations by providing a much needed kick in the particular pants when they are tempted in order to stray from well-intentioned plans to get or stay active.

As we spring forward, many fascinating broadband enabled solutions currently can be found and many more are being developed, that assist consumers manage their heart health or help prevent this insidious disease from ever occurring. Listen to your own heart, find a tool that is best for you and take steps today to help the guts of a friend or loved one. In the process, the heart you save, just might be your own. For more information, see the Connect2Health FCC Heart Health Consumer Tip Sheet.

Good News for Consumers, Innovators and Economic Markets

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Appreciate it to the over four million People in america who participated in the Open Internet continuing. Thanks to them, this decision online openness was itself the most open up proceeding in the history of the FCC.

As a result, the FCC today has taken an important step that should reassure consumers, innovators and the economic markets about the broadband future of our own nation.

Consumers right now know that lawful content will not be blocked or their service throttled. Today’s action puts in place bright range rules to ban these practices outright.

Innovators right now know they will have open entry to consumers without worrying about pay-for-preference fast lanes. This, too, is a vivid line rule to ban paid prioritization.

Financial markets now know that rate regulation, tariffing and forced unbundling – the old-style utility regulation – continues to be superseded by a modernized regulatory strategy that has already been demonstrated to work. The rules under which the wireless industry spent $300 billion to build a vibrant plus growing business are the pro-investment design for the rules we adopted nowadays.

The future of the Internet will not reside in backward-looking regulation from one more era. There are 48 sections of Name II of the Communications Act. The modern regulatory approach we adopted nowadays cuts away 27 of those procedures (even more than were removed for mobile voice service) to establish the above-mentioned bright line regulations for issues that exist today, and to use the well-known “just and reasonable” standard as the rule for Web activity going forward.

The rationale for this modernization of Title II is simple: we want consumers and innovators to be protected, and we want ISPs to continue to have the economic incentive to develop fast and competitive broadband networks. It is in the interest of consumers, innovators and Wall Street that absolutely nothing in today’s Order alters the economic model for continued network expansion. The ISPs’ consumer income streams tomorrow will be the same as these were yesterday. I believe this is why Sprint, T-Mobile, Frontier Communications, and Google Fiber, along with hundreds of smaller phone corporation ISPs have said they would continue to keep invest under the Commission’s modern regulating approach.

Today is a red letter day both to have an Open Internet, and for a broadband future of investment and expansion.

Traveling Wi-Fi Ahead: the Upper 5 GHz Band

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Nowadays Wi-Fi spectrum bands are wildly popular. But with more and more people and products taking advantage of this technology, these bands are getting congested. It reminds all of us of the famous Yogi Berra estimate, “Nobody goes there anymore; it is too crowded. ”

In response to the growing use of Wi fi, the Federal Communications Commission has brought steps to meet the growing demand for more unlicensed spectrum. Last year, we additional 100 megahertz of spectrum for Wi-Fi in the lower 5 GHz band. The Commission is also seeking to secure some unlicensed spectrum opportunities in the 600 MHz band as part of our upcoming incentive auction. But more needs to be done—and soon.

One spectrum band that we believe needs greater attention is within the upper 5 GHz band. Because of the proximity to spectrum in other parts of the 5 GHz band that are already used for unlicensed solutions, this is a prime candidate to help satisfy the demand for Wi-Fi. Unlicensed solutions generally share spectrum with other radio stations services on a non-interference basis. Therefore one of the bands identified for potential new sharing is the 75 megahertz of spectrum located at 5850 to 5925 MHz (also known as the U-NII-4 band) that was allocated by Commission in 1999 for Dedicated Short Range Communications Service (DSRC) techniques intended to improve roadway safety.

DSRC was intended to enable short range, wireless links to transfer information between vehicles plus roadside systems. At the time of allocation, DRSC was expected to be used for a selection of purposes, including “traffic light manage, traffic monitoring, travelers’ alerts, automated toll collection, traffic congestion recognition, emergency vehicle signal preemption associated with traffic lights, and electronic inspection of moving trucks through data transmissions with roadside inspection facilities. ”

Since then, while DSRC has been slowly developing, the particular demand for Wi-Fi and products using unlicensed spectrum has cracked. Moreover, during this time we have witnessed the introduction of increasingly sophisticated techniques that have enabled unlicensed devices to operate in places once unimaginable, like the broadcast television white spaces. As a result, we believe it is imperative to look at ways for unlicensed services to operate in the U-NII-4 band.

There are a variety of ways to accomplish this goal. Given technological advancements in alleviating interference, we should discover if unlicensed services could function in the U-NII-4 band, without causing harmful interference to DSRC. Additionally, a number of parties have suggested dedicating the upper portion of the U-NII-4 band for DSRC and allowing the lower portion to be dedicated to a mix of Wi fi and non-critical DSRC uses. Below either scenario, there could be exciting new possibilities for more high-speed, high-capacity Wi fi in the 5 GHz band.

Furthermore, there is growing interest in the Wi-Fi opportunities in the U-NII-4 band from outside the Commission. Upon Capitol Hill, Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Booker (D-NJ) have reintroduced Senate legislation from the last Our elected representatives that establishes a process, including analyzing interference-mitigation technologies and establishing a test plan, in order to assess and possibly allow unlicensed services to operate within the U-NII-4 band if doing so does not result in harmful interference to DSRC. In addition , Representatives Latta (R-OH), Issa (R-CA), Eshoo (D-CA), Matsui (D-CA), and DelBene (D-WA) have reintroduced similar 5 GHz band legislation in the House of Representatives. Separately, the particular Institute of Electrical and Consumer electronics Engineers (IEEE) has begun work on the possibilities having both unlicensed devices plus DSRC systems operate, although we all recognize that resolution in this forum may not occur in the near term.

We also recognize in line with the record before us (ET 13-49) that proponents of DSRC are reluctant to support efforts that they believe jeopardize their exclusive use of precious spectrum. Nonetheless, more than a decade and a half following this spectrum was set aside for vehicle and roadside systems, we believe it is time to take a modern look at the company possibilities in these airwaves. In other words, it is time for the Commission to develop a compromise that allows both unlicensed and DSRC use in the U-NII-4 band.

We support the basic safety initiatives associated with DSRC, but are mindful that mobile opportunities are multiplying in ways never contemplated whenever this spectrum was set aside in 1999. After all, when DSRC was new, driverless cars were the stuff of science fiction. Additionally , new technologies are coming to market that support features like automatic brake and lane change warnings apply radar and other technologies not influenced by DSRC. Above all, we should not strand our spectrum strategies in turn-of-the-millennium safety technologies when there are might be other more efficient ways to reach these same goals.

In sum, there are possibilities for greater unlicensed use in the U-NII-4 band while still permitting and protecting DSRC, and the time to make that happen is now. By doing so, we can support vehicle safety, expand the spectrum used for Wi-Fi and grow our wi-fi economy. That strikes both people as goals worth pursuing.

Just Around the Broadband Bend

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

It’s often said that life is not measured by the number of breaths all of us take, but by the moments that will take our breath away. I had just such an experience when the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force went to Jackson plus Sunflower County, Mississippi.

Our meetings, roundtables, and web site visits demonstrated the transformative energy of broadband in health. They will reinforced in living color ― indeed, in Ole Miss crimson and Jackson State navy ― that we can’t be weary in well doing and that there is a essential need especially in our rural areas to get broadband done right and get it done right, now. And, they put real faces and households behind our every policy effort.

According to a recent research, Mississippi was ranked the unhealthiest state in the nation for the 3rd consecutive year. As the deputy state epidemiologist Dr . Paul Byers think, Mississippi has the highest number of fatalities from cardiovascular disease and the second highest prevalence of diabetes and weight problems in the country. On the broadband connectivity front side, the vast rural stretches of the state present significant challenges.

But , Mississippi is much more than its health and broadband connectivity metrics. I saw this first hand when the Connect2Health FCC Job Force visited rural Mississippi, the 2nd stop in its Beyond the Beltway series.

With creativeness and courage, the state is traveling hard toward other benchmarks ― connecting every Mississippian to the energy of broadband technology; bringing lifesaving diabetes care and remote overseeing to its most rural residents using wireless broadband; equipping a new generation of physicians with the information and skill to embrace telehealth tools and to use them to improve population health; and emphasizing data analytics around the social determinants of chronic disease.

Governor Phil Bryant, Dr . James Keeton (Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and the Dean of the School of Medication for the University of Mississippi), Doctor Kristi Henderson (Chief Telehealth plus Innovation Officer), Mr. Primus Wheeler (Executive Director, Jackson Medical Mall), Dr . Ricardo Brown (Dean of the College of Public Service on Jackson State University), Mr. Robert Pugh (Executive Director of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association) and many other state and community leaders have declined to accept the health connectivity status quo and so are laser- focused on leveraging broadband plus advanced technologies to combat these stark chronic disease realities. And, their successes are tangible plus laudable. These passionate, dedicated plus engaged visionaries are transforming the trajectory of broadband-enabled health and care for rural Mississippians.

The Mississippi we saw on Day 1 of the visit is addressing the challenges head on:

  • First, the University of Mississippi Medical Center is driving telehealth further than the boundaries of its health program, with more than 30 specialties, 550 telehealth partners, and 165 non-affiliated providers. The inclusive vision of broadband-enabled health care in Mississippi is to provide an access point in every community, regardless of whether in a hospital, clinic, corporate establishing, school or college.
  • Second, Mississippi is focused on developing out broadband infrastructure based on geography, not population, and striving to identify a business case that makes this approach sustainable for rural areas.
  • Third, the Mississippi experience is usually defining telehealth expansively to include medical care, wellness, workforce development, research, schooling and business development.

On Day 2, so that as part of the Connect2Health FCC mission to explore and power on-the-ground experiences with broadband-enabled wellness solutions in rural and underserved areas, a few members of the Job Force and Commissioner Clyburn journeyed 120 miles to the heart of the Mississippi delta to Ruleville, Mississippi ― population 3, 007 (as of the 2010 census).

Ruleville has an access to care percentage of more than 3000: 1; 58% of its children live in poverty; 44% are usually obese; the town has one doctor, one hospital, one grocery store plus high levels of diabetes and joblessness. So , there was no question regarding the significant needs that broadband may help address. We focused our visit on the North Sunflower County Clinic, which is right down the street from the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden plus which has been serving the citizens associated with Ruleville since 1950.

While at North Sunflower, two diabetes patients, “Ms. Annie” and “Ms. Jackie, ” shared moving direct accounts of how wireless broadband plus remote monitoring have helped them control their diabetes and avoid the debilitating consequences of the disease through other family members.

All of us also learned that, as a direct consequence of the broadband-enabled remote monitoring effort in Ruleville, hospital admissions with regard to diabetes-related illness are plummeting.

Ruleville was a most fitting conclusion to our visit ― showing a Mississippi further than the prevalence rates and morbidity and mortality ratios; showing a community with limited resources building relationships with health care and industry innovators and using broadband to change lives. Within the words of Ms. Joanie Perkins, Chief Development Officer at North Sunflower County Medical Center, “if Ruleville can do it, anyone can. ” We couldn’t agree more, Ms. Joanie.

On the way returning to Jackson to catch the last air travel home, we passed a sign saluting native son of Sunflower Region and jazz/blues legend B. B. King. Among his many Grammy Award winning hits is the classic: “There must be a better world somewhere. ” And, for Sunflower County and many more rural communities across the country, that much better world is here and now… just round the broadband bend.

Accept the Internet for EEO “Widely Disseminated Rule”

Friday, February 20th, 2015

When i have said previously, I believe the web is the greatest man-made invention in my lifetime. We spend a considerable amount of time and effort on the Commission determining how best to get rid of barriers to its deployment, studying and reporting its speed and availability, scolding broadband companies for not doing enough and, in some cases, offering American ratepayer subsidies to ensure it will reach all corners of our nation. Therefore , it comes as a surprise – and a disappointment – that we do not embrace it when it comes to compliance along with existing Commission rules. I earlier highlighted that the Internet was the suitable vehicle for providing broadcast competition rules, and the Commission has been upgrading our regulations accordingly, but the Web may be just as important for communications businesses trying to attract a diverse workforce.

The Commission’s Similar Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules require broadcast and cable companies to distribute information far and wide—and provide evidence of such outreach—when they have open positions to be filled. Specifically, the rules require broadcasters with 5 or more, and multi-channel video programming distributors with six or more, full-time employees to cast a wide net to recruit minority and woman applicants for all full-time job vacancies. These employee search efforts have to be part of companies’ public files, which are either currently online or probably in the near future, and are subject to random Commission audits to ensure compliance and analyze performance. And companies are subject to adjustment actions when EEO rules aren’t followed.

The Commission’s application of one of its EEO rules is based on a remarkably outdated assessment of Web deployment and access in the United States. Specifically, the Commission reaffirmed recently in an enforcement action that using the Internet (and word-of-mouth referrals and walk-in applicants) to widely disseminate information and recruit prospective employees is not sufficient to comply with the Commission’s EEO rule, specifically section 73. 2080(c)(1)(i). This is because, at the time of adoption in 2002, the Commission relied on a 2001 NTIA report that suggested 50 percent of U. S. households had Internet service, and only a slightly bigger percentage used the Internet from any location. So based on an estimate of Internet availability circa 2001, companies are now forced to duplicate their own recruiting efforts using other less efficient technologies and outreach strategies just to stay in compliance. This additional effort and cost for little to no benefit should result in the Commission to reconsider its previous position.

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting in any way that we alter or alter our overall EEO requirements. I wholeheartedly agree that wide dissemination of information about job opportunities could be one key element to assembling a diverse applicant pool. However , we have to recognize the current marketplace realities with regards to what types of communication should qualify since “widely disseminated. ” The Internet had been certainly available when this EEO rule was last revised in November 2002, but even the finest technological skeptic can accept that Internet deployment and availability possess changed significantly over the last 12-plus many years. In fact , in 2002, the Commission stated that it “will continue to keep track of the viability of the Internet like a recruitment source and will consider petitions seeking to demonstrate in the future that situations have changed sufficiently to warrant a change in our policy. ”[1]

The great information is that Internet use and accessibility have continued to increase since the earlier 2000s. The FCC’s 2014 Access to the internet Services report found that overall Internet connections (both wireline and wireless) increased by 12 percent on the previous year to reach 296 mil in 2013.[2]And this quantity is already a year old, meaning it really is even larger today. NTIA’s information further highlights the vast growth over the years, finding that as of December thirty-one, 2013, “99 percent of Us citizens have access to wired and/ or wifi broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and one 5 Mbps up. ”

Equally important, the Commission has invested billions and vast amounts of E-Rate dollars (with even more to come) – subsidies paid for by American ratepayer – in our nation’s libraries to transform them in to community information hubs with high-speed Internet connections. Note that the percentage of public libraries that offered general public Internet access increased from 95 percent in 2002 to 98. nine percent in 2005; since 2011, it has been 100 percent. And according to a study by the American Library Association, almost 100 percent of public libraries offer “workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology abilities training” and 98 percent offer free public access Wi-Fi. We all can’t embrace the ubiquity and benefits of Internet connectivity in public your local library to serve local communities similarly, and on the other hand reject it as insufficient to reach enough possible job applicants. We simply can’t ignore the pervasiveness of library Internet access when reviewing Commission rules.

Moreover, just think of how the Internet is promoting the job listing and application procedure. Employment websites, such as Monster. possuindo, Indeed. com, Careerbuilder. com and many more, are now actively used by both general public and private employers to reach applicants. Additionally , we must be mindful of the large number of other sites that offer recruiting equipment, such as LinkedIn and craigslist. Overall, these technologies have allowed employers to expand the potential talent pool, as well as reduce their overall costs. The Internet has become a central component in personal networking and job identification. In fact , many, if not most, job opportunities in America require applicants to apply on the net. Even the FCC requires applicants to utilize online unless it would be a difficulty.

At the same time, traditional way to advertise job openings have flattened. For instance, the Commission has a complete record as part of its media ownership proceedings from 2010 on the altering local newspaper industry. Suffice it to say, local want ads are suffering for numerous reasons and shouldn’t be looked upon as widely available in many communities, as the number of daily newspapers continues to shrink or, in fact , move to online distribution. The same applies to newsletters of media trade groupings and probably for a number of other earlier relied-upon recruitment methods.

In practice, the application of the EEO rule, and its anti-Internet bias, does not seem to help potential applicants. Most companies possess expansive job-related information and program procedures on their websites. When businesses are required to use other means to promote job openings, they simply direct interested parties to their websites. Contact a toll-free number? See a flier at a job fair or get a mailing? The instructions invariably direct the applicant to a website.

In the past, a number of state broadcast associations petitioned the Commission to modify our EEO rule to allow Web distribution of job openings coupled with aggressive notification to referral organizations that have affirmatively demonstrated they want to perform a meaningful role in referring applicants to media companies along with job openings. This would seem to create a lot of sense in today’s industry and given advances in Internet access over the years. Chairman Wheeler’s past article stated: “The communications sector can never stop changing and evolving. The FCC is committed to updating the policies and processes to facilitate and accelerate these advances to increase the benefits for the American people. ” An update of the EEO rule would be a great next step in the modernization process the Chairman has performed.



[1]Review of the Commission’s Broadcast and Cable Equal Employment Opportunity Rules and Policies, Second Report and Order and 3rd Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, November 7, 2002, ¶99

[2] Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2013, Industry Analysis and Technology Division, Wireline Competitors Bureau, October 2014

Audio Principles for Lifeline Reform

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Over the last few years, the particular Commission has taken action to reform each of its universal service distribution programs to refocus them upon broadband. The only program outstanding will be the Low-Income or “Lifeline” program. Given recent pronouncements, I expect several changes to Lifeline in the not-too-distant future.

The Lifeline program had been originally intended to provide low-income consumers with a discount to help make wireline phone service more affordable. Over time, it started to pay for prepaid wireless service, and the “discount” often covers the entire monthly bill. That shift has more than bending the size of the program. It also created difficult incentives that opened the door in order to waste, fraud and abuse that have never been sufficiently resolved. This is unacceptable.

The Commission has taken important steps to rein in program excesses, including by requiring annual eligibility re-certifications and instituting a data source (the NLAD) to screen meant for duplicate subsidies. However , it appears that violations are continuing.

I would prefer to ensure that there are adequate controls and deterrents in place before considering a revamp of the program to include broadband. In fact , the particular Commission is still grappling with the outcomes of its previous expansion, so we have to be very cautious about further changes. Furthermore, there is a legitimate debate whether the Lifeline program should be abolished or somewhat scaled back rather than expanding its mission. I would be open to having the thoughtful debate on the best way to deal with a perceived need in this communications area rather than bootstrapping the old program with new responsibilities.

Since the Payment appears ready to press forward notwithstanding the need for fundamental review, it seems suitable to outline certain principles for almost any Lifeline reform effort in order to garner my consideration.

1) Arranged a budget for Lifeline : Lifeline is the only universal service program that is not on a budget, and it is time to fixed one, as the Commission contemplated in the 2012 Lifeline Modernization Order. There is absolutely no justification for not having one since it is disingenuous and downright inaccurate to argue it is an “entitlement” program, comparable to Medicare, Social Security and the like. Since GAO has noted, “[t]he Low-Income Program has no financing cap and the addition of broadband and other future telecommunications technology with out key management information and assessment tools has the potential to further raise the cost to consumers who purchase the program through their telecommunications bills. ” Because continuing abuse in the program suggests that sufficient controls aren’t yet in place, setting a roof on reimbursements is a prudent step to protect ratepayers. Dollars lost in order to fraud may be returned to the federal government, but not to ratepayers who have already footed the bill.

2) No increase in the reimbursement rate meant for broadband : As the program grows to include broadband, some will believe it will cost more and, therefore , the compensation rate should be increased. But there is evidence that the current $9. 25 reimbursement rate is sufficient. At least one company already includes 10 MB of data per month (on top of the free phone and minutes meant for voice or texts). Other suppliers offer 5-50 MB for just $5 extra. We should keep in mind that the program is supposed to provide a discount, not cover the entire cost of the service. The current $9. 25 is adequate for that objective, and we should review whether audio analytics can justify reducing this particular figure.

3) Limit services eligible for assistance : I disagree with people who suggest that the discount can be put on any service of the customer’s selecting. That has no basis in the legislation. Only the Commission can determine which usually services are supported, and you can find limits on what may be funded straight or as a condition of getting support. Moreover, opening the program to the service raises serious concerns about accountability and waste.

4) Prohibit double dipping : The one per household rule provides an important check on spending and must be maintained as the program shifts to broadband. We should make clear that a household can decide to apply the discount to some voice plan or to a combined plan that offers both voice plus broadband, but can’t get a individual discount for each.

5) Much better target funding to those who really need it : Recent research has suggested that 7 out of 8 Lifeline subscribers (and 19 out twenty wireless Lifeline subscribers) would have subscribed to a phone service even without a subsidy. That suggests that the program is oversized and poorly targeted. At a minimum, we should seek further comment on this issue, including ways to modify the program to make it a lot more cost-effective.

6) Tighten eligibility requirements : One way to better focus on the program would be to restrict eligibility. For instance , instead of setting the income eligibility threshold at 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, it could be fixed lower, which would focus funding upon fewer subscribers that are most within need. Moreover, we could limit eligibility to income. That would have the additional benefit of simplifying eligibility verification. In certain states, the providers must confirm eligibility, which imposes costs on them and can create problematic incentives. In answer, some have called for a federal procedure to verify eligibility. But that raises its own concerns, and the data on which consumers participate in which applications is dispersed amongst various companies, including at the state level. Therefore , it may be much simpler to verify revenue eligibility.

7) Require a minimum contribution : To deter waste materials and stretch program dollars further, all universal service beneficiaries must have skin in the game. In other universal company programs, beneficiaries have been required to pay in at least 10 percent (which is still too low). We should expect exactly the same in the Lifeline program. A minimum contribution also would help deter consumers from signing up more than once, which has always been a problem despite enforcement efforts. While some have argued that even a little contribution (such as $1) might make service unaffordable for some, that hypothetical risk is outweighed by the benefit of protecting against known program abuses. Furthermore, setting a minimum contribution would better align the current program with the unique goal of providing discounted (not free) service.

8) Carrier participation should be voluntary : It is time to amend the rules to permit, but not require, high-cost funding recipients to offer Lifeline service. By one estimate, involvement in the Lifeline program costs suppliers $600 million annually, or approximately 37 percent of the yearly total cost of the program. Yet most consumers opt for service provided by one of the many wifi “Lifeline-only” providers. USAC reports there are approximately 2, 000 companies which are eligible to provide Lifeline service. Some are incumbents, of course , but several are wireless providers offering company in multiple states. It makes small sense to force incumbents to bear these costs when there are plenty of some other providers willing and able to fill up the role.

9) Automated safeguards against abuse : As an added protection against abuse, we should have a procedure in place to stop brand new payments if certain metrics are exceeded. For example , we could automatically halt payments to a provider for new subscribers, pending further review, if the company suddenly increases its number of subscribers by an improbable amount described in advance. Having safeguards in place will be especially critical if the Commission does not agree to put the program on a budget.

10) Require document retention : Providers should be required to keep paperwork of a subscriber’s eligibility in order to facilitate oversight. This is a common sense reform, in fact it is even supported by providers who wish to be able to prove why a subscriber was determined to be eligible. However , to the extent our rules require or permit ETCs to collect and store full social security numbers — as opposed to just the last 4 digits – we should change those rules. We have already seen examples where such sensitive personal information has been affected. While it is very important to protect against duplicate or fraudulent subsidies, using the final 4 digits, along with other checks, need to provide enough information to marijuana out abuse.

In short, I view these as readily-achievable, common sense principles to help protect the universal company fund and ratepayers against waste materials, fraud and abuse, and I make them part of the discussion as Payment moves forward with its reforms.

The particular ‘Wonders’ of Video Description Technology

Friday, February 13th, 2015

A few months ago, Stevie Wonder visited the FCC to speak about how we can harness the power of technology to make performance art more accessible. At that time, I discovered that Mr. Wonder would be receiving a Lifetime Accomplishment Grammy Award. When he advised the FCC to raise awareness about and availability of audio description of video programming, I thought the Grammy special would be a wonderful showcase.

On February sixteen, 2015, thanks to the leadership of CBS TELEVISION STUDIOS CEO Les Moonves, CBS will use video description on its broadcast of “Stevie Wonder: Songs within the Key of Life – an All-Star GRAMMY Salute. ” It is the first time video description has ever been used for a musical performance system.

If you’re not familiar with video description technology, it’s a function that allows consumers who are blind or even visually impaired to listen to an sound track describing a video program’s visual elements when there is no audio associated those elements. The audio identifies non-verbal actions taking place on the display screen, such as a body language, scene changes, setting, visual jokes, costumes or some other content. People who can see take for granted these types of silent but essential aspects of programming, but , without video description, people who are blind miss them.

Many popular television applications today offer video description solutions, including Fox’s “Bones, ” NBC’s “Grimm, ” PBS’s “Downton Abbey, ” Nickelodeon’s “Go Diego Move, ” USA’s “Royal Pains, inch and many more. You can experience what movie description offers to the public simply by watching this video clip.

Current FCC rules require major broadcast networks and their affiliate marketers in the 25 largest TV marketplaces and the top 5 cable networks to provide a minimum of 50 hours every 3 months of video-described prime-time and kid’s programming. I am pleased to note that several networks – for example CBS, PBS and Fox – are going apart from current FCC rules. We thank them for their efforts to make their programming accessible, and we look forward to July, when new rules will require more markets to air described programming.

In the coming weeks, the FCC’s new Disability Advisory Committee will be addressing video explanation issues, along with other accessible technology problems, as we work to encourage conversation among technologists, networks, and the window blind and visually impaired community. Hopefully to explore the potential for development of new applications that can sync video description in order to smart devices that can be used while watching movie programming. These efforts continue the particular Commission’s ongoing work to make availability a reality for all users.

This week, I met using a group of students from local colleges for the deaf. The fact that their concerns were similar to those raised within my conversation with Stevie Wonder verifies the importance of this agency’s role in assuring that communication and media resources are available and accessible in order to everyone. Whether it be the Commission’s utilization of sign language by video on this customer support line or private sector leaders going beyond the minimum amount in providing accessible content such as Monday’s Stevie Wonder special, it is necessary that we continue striving toward to the goal of providing greater gain access to for people with disabilities.

To access the description track of an application, use the menu system of your tv and select the “secondary audio function, ” or “SAP. ” A few TV sets identify this as “Spanish” or “SPA” since that track also is sometimes used to supply translations into Spanish or some other languages .

Wifi Providers Fulfill Commitment to allow Consumers Unlock Mobile Phones

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

One year ago, the FCC announced a voluntary commitment among a number of mobile wireless service providers to adopt policies that allow their clients to switch networks while keeping their particular existing devices – a process called cell phone unlocking. That commitment included a one-year deadline. Today, we have been proud to report that the country’s major providers have met their particular commitment.

Specifically, the principles adopted into the CTIA Customer Code for Wireless Service consist of pro-consumer provisions on disclosure, postpaid and prepaid unlocking, notice, client response time, and unlocking cell phones for deployed military personnel. When CTIA adopted these six concepts, participating providers committed to a one-year implementation deadline.

Below this commitment, participating wireless suppliers will unlock your postpaid mobile device upon request, provided the terms and conditions of your service contract or even installment plan have been met as well as your account is in good standing. Participating wireless providers will unlock prepaid mobile devices no later than 12 months after initial activation, consistent with realistic time and usage requirements. Participating providers will clearly notify you when your postpaid device is entitled to unlocking if the device is not automatically unlocked. Additionally , your wireless provider will post on its site a clear, concise, and easily discovered policy on mobile wireless gadget unlocking.

We congratulate CTIA and the participating wireless suppliers for reaching this important milestone. Full implementation of the unlocking concepts is a positive development for each consumers and wireless providers, as it increases competition to innovate.

Consumers should contact their particular wireless service provider to find out when and exactly how a device may be unlocked. To learn more regarding cell phone unlocking, visit our consumer education website and read the FAQs for consumers.

Delegated Authority: Serious Objections and Solutions

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I am privileged to work at an agency with incredibly dedicated and talented staff. Most personnel at the FCC are hardworking public servants, intent on diligently carrying out our work overseeing the particular communications industry. The Daily Process shows how much they accomplish everyday on a wide range of issues. Generally, We support their efforts.

Notwithstanding my support for the staff’s work, there are certain aspects of the FCC’s duties that should be reserved and resolved by the full Commission. Chief the are matters that are new or even novel. The FCC’s rules reserve new or novel issues for any Commission vote—and there are good reasons with regard to doing so. That way the full Commission has got the opportunity to set precedent on issues of first impression that can have significant and long-lasting legal plus policy consequences. It is also helpful for the particular Commissioners, with their broader perspectives, to behave on issues that may have implications with regard to other segments of the communications market. Moreover, it ensures that parties that want to challenge final FCC decisions are able to do so in a timely manner. It does small good to have a decision be made a decision at the bureau level when everyone knows the result will be appealed to the full Commission (unless the goal is to intentionally fail to act on an application with regard to review).

At times, the particular Commission has, by order, given additional authority to the Bureaus plus Offices, beyond what is already supplied for in the rules. Such ad hoc delegation can sometimes be permissible. However , looking back over the last 30 years, that appears to be the exception, not the norm. And past delegations shouldn’t become a justification for future delegations. Why am I hamstrung by a decision in order to delegate an issue to staff produced by a Commission years ago?

Additionally , given that some of our recent disagreements have fallen along party lines, it is extremely problematic for the Commission to have a 3-to-2 vote that includes broad delegation to the staff to address a subject area further. As a minority office, it is bad enough to have your opinions and concepts rejected as a whole and also have little to no input with an item (unless you completely ignore your principles). It is worse to see the extension of those decisions expanded on for years to come by a bureau below delegated authority. While I wholeheartedly admit that I was not elected and therefore not directly answerable to the American people, my colleagues and I are subject to confirmation by the Senate, resulting in a nearer level of accountability to the democratic procedure than that maintained by a agency or office chief.

Over the past few years, it seems more and more function has been delegated and it now appears that there is a renewed effort in order to push even more of the Commission’s function to its staff. That may be due, in part, to a desire to speed up the particular agency’s decision-making process. While that is a worthy goal, I endure ready to act quickly on any issues presented to the full Commission. And using hold off as an excuse doesn’t hold up to some review of the facts. If you examine the speed at which this Commission is determining items, it should stack up against any Commission in recent time. For instance , the public circulation list contains couple of items and those that are pending have never been subject to lengthy delays brought on by Commissioners.

Accordingly, changes to our delegation practices are in order. First and foremost, a Commissioner should have the proper to request any item be knocked up to the full Commission for quality. In fact , some people already thought this was in the Commission’s rules or normal FCC practice but recent products have proven otherwise. Perhaps there may be some time limit attached in these restricted, specific circumstances (e. g., 30 days), but to foreclose the option completely is misguided. What is so harmful about allowing Commissioners to really vote on an item?

Second, there should be a codification of the 48-hour rule with appropriate modifications. There is a practice shared by a few bureaus that the Commissioners are informed 48 hours in advance of an item’s release; other bureaus provide 24-hour notice and others provide zero. The particular 48-hour time frame should become standard across the Commission to allow Commissioners time to decide whether they would like to request an item be decided by the full Commission. This also would address the problem that will, once issues are delegated, it really is difficult to follow the decisional path of a bureau, making it harder to measure the overall impact of FCC rules on industry and consumers.

Lastly, the scope of any delegation should be limited under any circumstances. Beyond the current new and novel standard, there should be limits on what is permissibly delegable. In the past, some controversial issues that were decided on the fast consisted of rough frameworks or describes (e. g., term sheets). This cannot be acceptable to punt a good item’s entire fate to a agency. That is no way to operate an agency which has so much impact on the American economic climate. Thankfully, our Chairman and the current Commission has never chosen this path. But to prevent its reoccurrence at some time, there should be clear guidelines on what could be delegated and what cannot.

Fixing the delegation process should be a priority for the Commission. If the Commission is unwilling or unable to do this, I trust the Congress may review the issue in further detail.