Archive for April, 2015
Thursday, April 30th, 2015
“I feel more equivalent, more independent. It changed my life” – Lori Siedman, Birkenstock boston, Massachusetts
“I just don’t have the words to explain how exciting this is for me and how very significant this is to me. inch – Rosetta Brown, Conyers, Georgia
“I’ve been given a chance to be a productive member of society. ” – Ramona Rice, Riverdale, Utah
When you hear people speaking in such powerful terms, you take notice. When they are talking about a program below your jurisdiction that is due to expire, a person take action.
Established by the FCC within July 2012, the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, what we call iCanConnect, empowers low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st Century communications services.
The program provides up to $10 million each year for communications technologies for individuals who have got both significant vision loss plus significant hearing loss. In addition , it offers training for these individuals to ensure they can completely utilize the equipment they receive.
Programs are in place in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Vasto, and the Virgin Islands, and they are aquiring a powerful impact. Thousands of individuals like Lori Siedman, Rosetta Brown, plus Ramona Rice have been served, thousands of pieces of equipment have been distributed, and many hrs of training have been delivered.
Ryan Odland, coordinator for the New York Deaf-Blind Machines Distribution Program with the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC), has discussed the power of iCanConnect to get over the isolation that people living with view and hearing impairments can experience. “The technology offered through this system allows deaf-blind individuals to join in since contributive members with the rest of our society, ” said Odland. “Humans depend on one another for support to operate, deaf-blind individuals are no different. ”
Although iCanConnect is transforming lives across America, it’s currently is set to expire on June 30, 2015. The National Deaf-Blind Machines Distribution Program was authorized by Twenty-First Century Communications and Video clip Accessibility Act (CVAA). The FCC established it as a pilot program that we launched in 2012. That needs to alter.
Today, I’m circulating a proposal to extend the pilot program previous June 30 and simultaneously move ahead with rules to establish the permanent program. To start along this street, the Commission had already released a public notice asking for feedback on how to improve the program. The suggested rules reflect ideas for enhancements gathered from the public notice plus lessons learned from the pilot program.
When people talk about iCanConnect as a life-saver, they are speaking metaphorically. For people with disabilities, new technology can also be a life-saver literally.
In an emergency, every second counts. If a tornado warning appears on your television within an on-screen crawl, that can give you the period you need to seek shelter, if you can examine it. The Commission adopted guidelines in 2013 to ensure that individuals who are blind or visually impaired have access to visible emergency information when it is shown throughout non-newscast television programming, such as within an on-screen crawl, through an aural demonstration on a secondary audio stream that consumers can switch in order to hear the information.
More and more Americans today view video programming provided by cable or even satellite operators – whether it be local news, a network sitcom, or even public television events – on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
That’s precisely why the Commission will consider a proposal at our May meeting that makes certain that these “second screens” permit emergency information displayed during television programming to be accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. At the same time, we will consider requiring manufacturers to incorporate a simple and easy to use mechanism regarding cable and satellite subscribers to change between the main and secondary sound streams in order to hear that critical information in real-time.
It is my wish and expectation that these new guidelines will enable individuals who are blind or even visually impaired to more quickly respond to time-sensitive emergency situations.
Communications technology has the power to dramatically improve the lives of all People in america, but the possibilities are even more pronounced for people with disabilities. I look forward to dealing with my colleagues to expand access to this life-changing technology.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
The AWS-3 auction was a blockbuster success – 1, 611 new spectrum permit, 31 winning bidders, and more compared to $41 billion in net revenues–not to mention that it made available an additional 65 megahertz of spectrum for consumers’ mobile broadband use. The story of this historic auction is still being written as we undertake our review of the particular “long-form” license applications filed by winning bidders. We do not yet know if every winning bidder is qualified to receive licenses and bidding credits, which is why the Wifi Telecommunications Bureau is undertaking a comprehensive and comprehensive review of all apps.
Today, we released the second “Accepted for Filing” Community Notice in connection with the license apps filed by the winning bidders in the auction. This means that, following its preliminary review of the applications, including asking for additional information from some applicants, Bureau staff has determined that 9 more AWS-3 license applications are now complete, in addition to the applications that the Bureau staff previously accepted for submitting. Given the intense public desire for this process, it is important to understand what today’s community notice does and, perhaps more importantly, does not do.
Nowadays Accepted for Filing Public Observe is just that – a discover to the public that certain applications are now complete and available for public review. The Notice does not opine around the merits of any of the applications, neither does it make a finding that any of the applicants who have requested small business bidding credit are eligible for – or will certainly receive – them.
This step in our standard license program review procedure begins a newphase in our substantive review of the apps, in which the Bureau staff gives the community the opportunity to review the applications and submit Petitions to Deny any winning bidder’s application. The deadline for filing Petitions to Deny any of the nine applications made public nowadays is May 11, 2015. Within parallel, Bureau staff will carry on and rigorously assess applicants’ compliance along with Commission rules. If any Petitions to Deny are filed, they will be considered as part of our substantive review. We will consider each application on its own merits and make licensing and any bidding credit decisions based on the specific facts and totality associated with circumstances in the record.
The most challenging part of our review is therefore just starting. While we previously granted several uncontested applications representing $30 billion in winning bids, there are now 19 apps that are undergoing a thorough, substantive review by Bureau staff, and one leftover application that has not yet already been accepted for filing. The apps that seek small business bidding credit are the most complex, given that they details the nature of the applicant’s ownership and control structure, and require the review of the related corporate agreements that in some cases consist of a highly complex group of rights and obligations, including contracts pertaining to equity ownership, funding, shared bidding, and management services.
These are complex and essential matters, and we have a long way to go in our review before we achieve final conclusions on all of the apps. While it would be inappropriate to make any predictions or judgments about any particular application, it is certain that staff’s review of the applications will be demanding and methodical. At the end of this process we are going to issue licenses only to entities that meet our eligibility standards. Likewise, we will award bidding credits only to those applicants who we find meet the criteria under the Commission’s rules.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
On Friday the FCC unanimously voted to create the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the several. 5 GHz Band. This action will create a 150-megahertz band suitable for wi-fi broadband, including 100 megahertz previously unavailable for commercial use since it was earmarked for military radars. The Commission adopted a comprehensive platform encompassing three tiers of contributed use (Incumbents, Priority Access, plus General Authorized Access), coordinated via one or more Spectrum Access Systems. Nowadays we released the rules for this new “innovation band”, which will become effective when they are soon published in the Federal Register.
The brand new 3. 5GHz rules will provide concrete benefits for all Americans. First, the new rules will support important national defense missions by protecting incumbent radar systems from interference. Second, the new rules will further boost the speed, capacity, and adaptability of wireless networks, leading to better cellular Internet performance for everyone. Finally, we all expect to see wide deployment of wireless broadband in industrial apps – advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, etc . – supporting innovation plus growth throughout our economy.
While spectrum management can be a complex undertaking, drawing from engineering, economic, and legal analysis, the essential goal is simple. The Communications Function calls for clear rules so that variety uses of radio technology will never cause “harmful interference” to one another. Just as most cities have zoning planks to accommodate different, often incompatible, kinds of land use, so does the particular FCC (along with NTIA, our own counterpart in the executive branch managing federal spectrum uses) create zoning rules for radio spectrum. These zoning designations are called “allocations” plus, within allocations, we authorize various “radio services”.
With time, the FCC has worked to make these categories more flexible, to accommodate a variety of different uses and technologies. This flexibility is important. It allows wi-fi users, whether licensed or unlicensed, to upgrade from one generation of technology to the next without asking permission from the regulator, which is still required in certain other countries. It is no accident that technologies like Wi-Fi plus 4G cellular quickly took root in the United States.
Yet, despite this push for greater flexibility, certain assumptions about our spectrum management framework have remained fixed. These assumptions reflect hard distinctions – bright lines – embedded deep within the regulatory framework. Some of these presumptions are technological. In an age of high-powered analog transmissions, it made sense to put different radio uses upon different bands, everywhere in the United States. Other people result from legal and institutional choices made decades ago.
While the categories have served important purposes over the years, the division of the radio spectrum into different tranches – for different kinds of users plus uses – can also limit versatility and efficiency. As evidence, one particular need only look at the innumerable exceptions, footnotes, or other asterisks that have been added to the rules over the years to accommodate uses that not fit within neat regulatory containers.
With the new several. 5 GHz rules, the Commission payment enables a new model that uses contemporary technologies – spectrum sensing, cloud computing, and others – to break straight down some of the old categories. A few examples:
- Federal vs . Non-Federal Allocation . Most spectrum bands have a major allocation to federal uses (overseen by NTIA) or non-Federal uses (overseen by the FCC). Even where there are overlapping “co-primary” allocations, in most cases one of the two kinds of users is usually clearly the predominant user in the band. More recently, as in the five GHz band, advanced sharing has taken root. We continue this pattern in 3. 5 GHz, exactly where commercial broadband users will present to several different types of military radar systems.
- Licensed vs . Unlicensed Authorization . Our nation has profited from enormous innovation and expense in both licensed and unlicensed wi-fi systems. 3. 5 GHz symbolizes the first time we will enable a range band to “behave” in a certified or effectively unlicensed manner depending on an economic mechanism. In general, the band will be available for anyone to use with no expecting interference protection (similar in order to unlicensed). However , where demand to access the spectrum exceeds supply, we are going to hold auctions for geographically targeted, short-term “priority access licenses”, which will provide interference protections in portions of the band.
- Company vs . Private Networks . Whilst we strive to create “flexible use” rules, in practice the attributes various bands tends to skew the use in order to either carrier networks (those that support consumer service) or personal networks (those that support the individual needs of a business or industry). As a consequence, private networks and carrier networks cannot share the same apparatus, in some cases raising costs and decreasing innovation. Because of the granular licensing within 3. 5 GHz, we expect that carrier and private networks will be able to share the same band, on the widespread basis, and will benefit from apparatus that may be used for either purpose throughout the band.
It will require some time to see the results of this new approach. We still have several guidelines ahead of us before the band will “turn on”. For example , we will need to authorize Spectrum Access System companies and establish auction procedures for that new priority access licenses. We expect multi-stakeholder groups to agree with procedures for coordinating use in the particular band. And, as with any new range band, technology vendors will have to style equipment that meets the specialized requirements spelled out in the rules. We also will continue to consider options for a small set of decisions not finalized in the Report and Order.
With the basic regulatory framework now in place, however , we now have a solid foundation to move forward. We are excited to observe how the future develops in the 3. five GHz innovation band.
Monday, April 20th, 2015
In August, the FCC team began a six-month research and design project in order to dramatically improve the usability and functionality of FCC. gov and its subdomains. The outcome of these collaborative efforts resulted in an interactive prototype of the actual improved FCC. gov will look like, along with an outline of how website content will be organized and structured based on our own research findings.
The focus of our research was to spot and understand what different FCC. gov visitors want from our website and the way to optimize the way they search, use, plus interact with the website. The first round of research began by analyzing web content and web analytics. This gave us a sense of the web pages most abundant in traffic and most commonly searched conditions by website users.
The second round of research involved several iterations of “card-sorting” along with internal and external audience groups. Card-sorting is really a method used in website design to help evaluate and determine the navigation plus information architecture of a site. The info architecture of a site represents the way content is structured and structured for users. Ultimately, card-sorting assisted us better understand how content should be organized on the site and gave us the foundation for the information architecture.
The third round of analysis was done in parallel. We conducted one-on-one user experience interviews along with various external stakeholders, documenting typical tasks and areas of concern with the present site. The interviews were priceless in helping us better understand present user behavior and needs.
Our collaborative stakeholder research revealed how we could improve the website’s information architecture to make articles easier to find. We learned normal website users do not come to FCC. gov to browse content; they want to have the information they are looking for quickly and as few clicks as possible. Our research also revealed:
- Stakeholders preferred an obvious separation of consumer- vs . practitioner-focused content. Practitioners use the website day-to-day and prefer “cut and dry” information. General consumers prefer educational content on a broad range of topics.
- Stakeholders preferred for content to end up being organized and categorized based on the FCC’s day-to-day work, with specific plus comprehensive navigation titles.
- Stakeholders favored that the FCC. gov homepage prioritize important content for practitioners, along with guide consumers to their dedicated section.
Our Shared Solution
As a result of these collaborative efforts, we’re excited to share a fully responsive plus 508-compliant prototype of the FCC’s new website design. The prototype is accessible on the computer, tablet, and mobile gadget and includes the following key functions:
- User-friendly information architecture which allows users to comprehend where they are, navigate more easily, and locate information more efficiently
- Homepage design which includes content users are coming to the website to access daily
- Clean typeface plus overall light look and feel that makes the website easy to read
- Separate area for consumers and a “toggle” navigation that allows visitors to access information by either “Topic” or “Bureau and Office” homepages
Within the months ahead, we will be building away the back-end functionality of the internet site to better meet the needs of external website users, and internal articles publishers and developers. This function will include implementing the improved info architecture, streamlining the web publishing process, and migrating content from FCC. gov and related subdomains to the new design and information architecture. This work will make it easier for both content owners to maintain pages updated and for website users to navigate the website and find info.
In addition , the FCC is working to implement an HTTPS-by-default standard to provide a more secure connection between an individual visitor and the FCC internet site. In December, the FCC rolled away this feature for our new Customer Help Desk (consumercomplaints. fcc. gov). By the end of April, all visitors to the main FCC website will immediately connect using this standard, delivering an even more secure connection
Right at the end of May, the FCC will certainly implement a new search application to the current FCC. gov site, significantly improving users’ search experience. The particular search application will aggregate outcomes for both FCC. gov plus our Electronic Document Management Program (EDOCs) content into a seamless encounter, and provide filters and facets for further advanced site users.
By September 30, 2015, the FCC will launch an improved FCC. gov featuring the new design, info architecture and search application. The first site launch will include website articles approximately three levels deep to the new site. Work will keep on after launch to integrate the greater complex content and data not originally included at site release. This content and data is currently being assessed and prioritized for incorporation into the new website.
We are thankful to all the different stakeholders who provided input into this design. This includes those who provided private input through using the existing web site, as well as those who participated in the scientific approaches we pursued to design the prototype.
As we near the development phase of this project, we invite you to view a model of what the improved FCC. gov will look like and provide any suggestions or feedback by emailing WebFeedback@fcc. gov.
You can access the prototype by clicking on the following link: http://prototype.fcc.gov
Friday, April 17th, 2015
During the last few years, the FCC has made substantial progress modernizing its universal support programs to make broadband available to most of Americans. Importantly, the FCC in 2011 unanimously voted to transform the particular USF high-cost program for the large “price cap” carriers into the Connect America program, which supports non-urban broadband networks. This program is now getting into its second phase, in which $1. 8 billion will soon be offered to expand broadband in price cap areas where deployment would not occur missing subsidies.
Simultaneously, however , another part of the universal support program that provides $2 billion annually in support for smaller non-urban carriers – called rate-of-return carriers – requires modernization. Senator Thune rightly recognizes this fact, and my colleagues and I recently produced a commitment to him to take action on this issue by the end of this year. Modernization would ensure that this program reflects the particular realities of today’s marketplace and supports the deployment of high speed networks throughout rural America. We all started this process last April when the Commission unanimously adopted a Further Notice that set forth the principles to guide our efforts in modernizing this program. The other day, we took another important step as our staff, Commissioner O’Rielly and his employees, Commissioner Clyburn’s staff, and employees from the Wireline Competition Bureau fulfilled with associations and others representing rate-of-return carriers to ask for their creative cooperation in getting this job done for rural consumers. I share Commissioner O’Rielly’s vision that we can get this particular done if we are prepared to roll up our sleeves and work together.
I look forward to working with the particular rate-of-return community and my colleagues here at the FCC to fulfill responsibility to Senator Thune. In short, we have to close the rural digital separate so that all Americans, regardless of where they live, can be equal participants in the social and economic life from the 21st century United States. We all share this particular goal, and modernizing this program is usually something everyone should be able to get at the rear of.
Immediate Video Communication: Access for People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing plus Speech Disabled in an IP World
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
A few months ago, I received a note from a woman within New Mexico, recounting her latest experience in making a 911 contact. She had fallen in the girl home, alone, badly hurt plus bleeding. She dialed 911, attained an emergency center, an ambulance had been dispatched and she was taken to the medical facility.
You might be wondering why someone would compose to the Chairman of the FCC in regards to a 911 call. The reason is that this had been an emergency for someone who is hard of hearing and the call was made through Video Relay Service (VRS), a program administered by the FCC. The woman got never before had a reason to make an emergency call and, when she produced the call, she wondered whether the technology would work.
Most of us take for granted that when we make a phone call, the phone call goes through. You call from any type of device to any phone number. You do not think about how the call travels – via circuit or packet, period division or code division, copper or fiber, 1 . 9 Gigahertz or 700 MHz Networks are interconnected. Telecommunications software is increasingly interoperable.
Now, imagine that heard with your eyes. You contact family and friends by video calling and your native language is American Sign Language (ASL). And when you call the hearing person who does not speak a foreign language, the call is automatically routed on the internet through a VRS sign language interpreter who conveys what you want to communicate to the hearing person. The VRS interpreter voices everything you sign to the hearing person and signs back again everything that the hearing person says.
One hundred and twenty-five million minutes of these three-way calls took place last year between deaf plus hearing persons. Calls most of us take for granted. Routine calls, work calls, calls to friends and family, calls to authorities offices, to businesses. And calls to 911. To quote our own friend in New Mexico: “911 VP [videophone] conserved my leg, and probably the life…y’all done good, very good. ”
The bad news in this good news story is that whilst digital technology has opened the door to making such a call without a 3rd party relay interpreter, that capability is extremely limited. Most federal agencies, for example, don’t have direct video access for those who communicate in ASL. Neither do most companies.
Since June 2014, however , the FCC has been operating a video-equipped “ASL Consumer Support Line” to allow consumers that use ASL to get their questions answered by signing to FCC staff who communicate in ASL. The Internet makes this process easier than ever. Rather than requiring a special phone to make the contact, any person who is deaf can sign over the Internet using any computer or mobile device with a camera. Also, it is not hard to set up similar apparatus at the receiving end.
Based on the success at the FCC and the advance of technology, it is now time for you to expand direct video calling over and above the FCC and make it offered to all levels of government and businesses who answer consumer inquiries. Since the federal agency responsible for the marketing communications of all Americans, the FCC is definitely embarking on a year-long, two-part process to expand direct video connectivity for deaf, hard of hearing, and speech disabled individuals who communicate in ASL.
The first step in this process is evangelizing the achievements of the FCC’s ASL Consumer Assistance Line. The simultaneous second step in this process is to harness technology to be able to easier for both the ASL caller plus recipient to talk to each other. Building on this experience, we are constructing a “cut out the middleman” Video Access Platform for callers and call-takers. By this time next year we will possess in the market an application usable on any fixed or mobile operating system which will bring up a list of participating agencies plus companies. All an ASL-user will need to do is click or faucet on who they want to talk to and the call will be connected to someone fluent in ASL. For those receiving the calls, the platform’s open APIs will enable easy interoperability.
After seeing what the FCC did, the Small Business Administration, to their great credit, has adopted our own approach. Other federal agencies, particularly those with high call volumes, like the Social Security Administration and INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, should consider offering direct video calling as well. The same should hold accurate for those companies with large numbers of clients who are deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled. Hiring a good ASL signer to respond to immediate video communication from these customers makes all the sense in the world. Not only will this facilitate communication access; if the individuals hired have a disability themselves, this can also increase their employment opportunities.
This won’t eliminate the need for third-party sign language interpretation to communicate outside of the platform, but for those authorities agencies and large companies with a high volume of callers who are hard of hearing, hard of hearing and speech-disabled, it should be a no brainer. One government company, for instance, handled 3. 1 million moments of interpreted (VRS) calls last year. One telephone company handled one 3 million minutes from people who use ASL last year.
The necessity is self-evident; 125 million video-assisted minutes last year speaks for alone. The FCC’s new platform can enable any agency or organization to communicate directly with an essential part of their constituency or customer base. This isn’t the final step, but it is a crucial step to putting all Americans on equal footing for marketing communications and information.
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
This week (April 12-18) is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week , when the nation recognizes the dedicated men and women who solution Americans’ calls for help at 911 centers across the country. These call takers and dispatchers provide the first important contact for those in need of emergency providers. In the midst of crises, they obtain essential information from callers in order to hyperlink them rapidly to police, medical personnel, and emergency medical responders – and at times even dispense essential, life-saving information themselves.
To perform this critical mission, the particular nation’s telecommunicators need a 911 system that keeps pace with technical advances, particularly as communications systems migrate to Next Generation technologies plus consumers embrace smartphones and brand new communications applications. New technologies also bring opportunities to improve our 911 system, but they do not lessen the particular nation’s need for skilled telecommunicators. Even the best technology cannot replace the essential person-to-person connection offered by a 911 call-taker to a person in need or a dispatcher’s knowledge of the local neighborhood that is often critical to timely and effective response.
It is why our focus at the FCC must be on helping telecommunicators secure the technology that will greatest support them in the challenging function they do and help them do their jobs more effectively.
We recognize that telecommunicators’ jobs significantly encompass not only call-taking and dispatch, but also the integration and analysis of multiple sources of information to determine the appropriate response to any given emergency. In fact , 911 communicators are conducting more analysis, from more information sources, plus producing better response results than in the past. This trend will increase as Next Generation 911 ushers in more text, video, and data in addition to traditional voice demands help. We also recognize that it is state, local, and tribal community safety authorities – not the particular FCC — that must make the difficult choices regarding how best to take care of the cost of providing emergency services whilst maintaining – and whenever possible, enhancing — the effectiveness of those services.
These choices are made more challenging by the sweeping communications changes that will affect all jurisdictions. Communications systems are shifting from wireline to wireless, from circuit-based to packet-based IP architecture, and from locally-provided to cloud-based services. Consumers are also increasingly tech-savvy and driving anticipation of what technology should be able to do for them, both in everyday use and emergencies. These trends require crisis response agencies to consider how to integrate Next Generation capabilities and functions to their operations, including new media (such as images, video, and text), big data and data analytics, GIS mapping, and targeted notifying. Equally important, emergency response agencies must consider how to maintain the dependability and security of these new systems, services, and technologies against a variety of threats, ranging from natural disasters to cyber attacks.
Helping state, local, and tribal specialists address these challenges was a key factor in the FCC’s decision to call together, get together, gather, assemble the Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture, which began its function earlier this year. Under the leadership of experienced public safety executives Steve Souder, Director of the Fairfax County, Va Department of Public Safety Communications, and Dana Wahlberg, 911 Plan Manager for the State of Minnesota, the Task Force brings together Public Basic safety Answering Point managers and specialists from key sectors, including 911 system service providers, communications service providers, technology vendors, and federal, state, tribe and local governmental organizations. Within the next few months, Task Force working organizations will develop and present recommendations in three important areas:
- Recommendations for PSAP-specific cybersecurity practices based on the NIST Cybersecurity Platform and other foundational sources.
- Recommendations on how PSAPs can improve 911 features and cost-effectiveness through consolidated NG911 network architecture design and operation.
- Recommendations on resource allocation and cost management for PSAPs to transition to NG911 and models for sustainable funding of NG911 operations.
These recommendations may serve as important guideposts for 911 authorities to determine the right mix of PSAP infrastructure and architecture improvements to support telecommunicators in the Next Generation 911 era. They will also assist 911 specialists in making decisions on workforce planning, firm, recruiting, and training of telecommunicators in this evolving environment.
As we move forward with these initiatives, the particular celebration of National Public Basic safety Telecommunicators Week reminds us that will in the midst of sweeping change, telecommunicators continue to keep play an essential and central part in the delivery of public security services. We salute these dedicated professionals and look forward to continuing to working with state, local, plus tribal public safety authorities to make sure the nation’s 911 system functions at its highest level.
Monday, April 13th, 2015
Throughout her impressive tenure as Performing Chairwoman, Commissioner Clyburn kicked away an important proceeding asking what the Commission should do to keep AM radio thriving. The so-called AM Radio Revitalization NPRM started an important dialogue at the future of the AM band. We are committed to taking action in this continuing so that AM radio will grow while also preserving the beliefs of competition, diversity, and localism that have long been the heart and soul of broadcasting.
As the oldest broadcasting service, AM stereo has been a vital part of American lifestyle for decades and today remains an important supply of broadcast programming, particularly for local content. In fact , Americans turn to the particular AM dial for a majority of most of news and talk stations.
However , AM radio stations currently face unique technological challenges that will limit their ability to best assist their listeners. In some cases, outdated regulations make it difficult for AM stations to overcome these issues. In other instances, interference concerns that are unique to AM stations are an obstacle.
In the coming weeks, I actually intend to conclude this open item with a Report and Order which will buttress AM broadcast service and ease regulatory burdens on AM broadcasters. The proposed Order would certainly adopt specific measures to address useful problems and interference-related issues that have got long plagued AM stations across the nation. If adopted, these measures will certainly enable AM stations to operate more proficiently in today’s spectrum environment. For example , the proposed Order would give stations more flexibility in choosing web site locations, complying with local zoning requirements, obtaining power increases, and incorporating energy-efficient technologies. These activities will help to ease some of the technical restrictions that have hindered AM stations in serving their listeners.
The AM Radio community has also raised several noteworthy ideas in the proceeding that deserve more debate. I plan to circulate a companion Further Notice, proposing to permit stations serving smaller communities to increase their limited day and night time service areas while fully protecting larger, Class-A stations’ core company areas. As a result, these smaller marketplace stations will be better able to conquer environmental interference. The Notice will even seek input on whether and the way to open up the expanded AM band. Currently, there is room for additional stations in the 1605-1705 kHz AM band. I propose asking how the expanded band should be used to best serve the public, whether that is for stations migrating from the standard band, for new stations, or for all-digital stations.
Another issue raised in the NPRM is the use of FM translators to expand the quality of AM signals. FM translators can be used to rebroadcast the particular signal of a primary AM train station on an FM frequency. The NPRM proposed an exclusive opening of the FM translator window for AM licensees. I have two concerns about the record and whether opening such a window is necessary, given the current state of the marketplace. The first is whether there is an insufficient number of FM translator licenses available for AM stations. The number of licensed translators has increased 65 percent since 2003 (from roughly 3, 800 to 6, 300). We will likely greater than double the 2003 number of certified translators over the next 12-18 a few months as translator construction permits are built and licensed. Nearly 4, 1000 translators have changed hands since the 2009 order that made all of them available to AM stations for the first time, which includes over 600 sales to AM stations.
The second unanswered concern is why, if it is necessary to open up the translator window, it should just be opened for one group. AM stations should be (and are) permitted to improve their service by broadcasting concurrently on FM translators. Commercial for you to purchase FM translators abound and our policy should be (and is) to speedily approve such buys. But if we are to assure that spectrum availability is an open opportunity, then the government shouldn’t favor one course of licensees with an exclusive spectrum opportunity unavailable to others just because the company owns a license in the AM band.
I am committed to both improving the operations associated with existing radio licensees, as well as bringing in new entrants to radio. People in america benefit from a diversity of voices in broadcasting. In addition to the large embrace translators, the Commission is working on many fronts to increase the development options available on radio airwaves. For example , the Low-Power FM (LPFM) window we opened in 2013 promises new, hyperlocal services in major metropolitan areas for the first time. LPFM licensees must be nonprofit new entrants, by guideline. The number of LPFM licenses has increased simply by more than 30 percent since 2013, and more licenses will soon become available, which includes many new stations operating in best markets.
We have already been working to create opportunities for new traders into commercial radio. We will soon hold FM Auction 98, planned to start in July, which will offer 131 constructionpermits for vacant FM allotments. As we license these brand new stations, we provide credits to motivate participation by new entrants.
The numbers speak for themselves. In all of our FM auctions to date, an overall total of 920 allotments sold to 505 winning bidders. Fifty-nine % of those winners used a putting in a bid credit. More than 180 additional FM station licenses are likely to be issued under these procedures over the next 2 yrs. These actions hold the promise associated with enabling more new entrants, which includes women and minorities, to join the rates of radio broadcasters.
The Commission should eliminate unwanted rules that impair stations’ ability to serve their listeners, and we need to encourage a diversity of voices however we can. My proposal will both, and I hope my other Commissioners will support it.
Friday, April 10th, 2015
Over the years, Open Meetings at the FCC have taken a variety of formats. At one time, Open Meetings were working sessions exactly where issues were debated live and staff were questioned about various policy choices. More recently, they have been summaries of decisions already made that are capped off by an official vote. Lately, it has even become typical to invite select guest speakers to Open Meetings to provide testimony in addition to the Bureau presentations.
While I fully support improving the functionality of the Open Meetings when it comes to structure and process, I am not really convinced that adding guest speakers is beneficial or appropriate. While witnesses may provide valuable insight into problems the Commission is considering, these types of presentations come far too late along the way to inform the outcome of an item. Indeed, they fall within a no-mans-land exactly where they are practically too late to be ex-mate partes but technically too early to be congratulatory. Therefore , it’s not clear what substantive value is gained simply by inviting stakeholders to speak in a Open Meeting. If the only purpose is to add a glitzy spectacle, then that’s inappropriate and perhaps not demonstrative of the proper decorum befitting analysis regulatory agency.
Rather, it seems that the purpose of inviting guest speakers is to further promote the viewpoint championed in the item about to be adopted. And the more controversial the item, the more likely we are to receive such delivering presentations. But , the lengthy Bureau delivering presentations and approving statements already accomplish that goal. There is no need to add to the particular chorus or to try to further refute or dilute dissenting opinions.
If the Commission is interested in hearing from outside parties personally, there are better ways to do it. Commission staff often holds workshops and roundtables for the very purpose of welcoming input from a variety of stakeholders. These are generally well attended, including at times by the Chairman and Commissioners, and the account is also entered into the record from the proceeding where it can have a meaningful impact on Commission deliberations.
Alternatively, if the Commissioners themselves are interested in convening outside parties, an option – albeit one that would need significant thought – would be for the Commission to designate certain meetings for taking account (akin to hearings) and other meetings for considering items (true agenda meetings). To be clear, both could happen in the same month. I’m most certainly not suggesting that the Commission reduce its output or delay important products. But at meetings designated to get testimony, the Commissioners could listen to from a variety of perspectives, not just a few favored representatives. And Commissioners could question witnesses to hone in on key issues and information.
Nonetheless, if the Commission persists in inviting witnesses to agenda meetings, it needs to make various changes:
First, the particular Chairman’s office should provide progress notice. Commissioners typically aren’t told about invitees until a day or two (or even an hour or two) just before a meeting. Instead, Commissioners should be educated of any guest speakers no later than two weeks in advance of the particular meeting. That shouldn’t be a heavy lift. In order to arrange for guest speakers, particularly out-of-town invitees, staff must be coordinating with potential guests nicely in advance. So they should be able to notify Commissioners that invitations have been extended.
Second, the viewpoint of these Commissioners in the minority on a specific issue, if any, should be offered the opportunity to help choose the speakers or be allowed to select their own. At present, Commissioners have no input into the selection procedure. If the Commission is going to hear a particular viewpoint repeated multiple times, it would be informative to have someone share a different viewpoint. At Congressional hearings, it is common for that minority to select at least one witness, and sometimes more. Here, we are not really provided that basic protocol.
Finally, speakers should be required to provide their testimony to all Commissioner offices no later than 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Currently, Commissioners do not receive the text of the comments at all. Commissioners should have adequate time for you to review testimony and potentially get ready questions. While the intent behind having guest speakers is not to turn the particular Open Meetings into public proceedings, my view is that anyone sitting down at the presentation table should be ready and willing to answer questions. Even if Commissioners do not plan to ask questions, it might still be helpful to receive the testimony ahead of time so that we all know what to expect. Additionally , if the Commission invites others to join staff at the table, then they should expect to be questioned too, even if they are not delivering prepared remarks.
Questioning the Staff Experts
In general, the particular Commission staff are dedicated community servants committed to producing the best substantive outcomes on the policy issues just before us. They are also the most knowledgeable about the content of an item being considered in a Open Meeting. To the extent that my colleagues or I have queries regarding the direction taken, specifics from the proposal, the consequences of adopting any item, the process or anything else, we should be free to ask the staff at the table. But often times my questions create from hearing the staff demonstration of an item. In those situations, I have been hesitant to ask a relevant question because I haven’t offered it to staff in advance.
I suggest that we can enhance the discourse and relevance of an Open Meeting by allowing unscripted queries and answers. Accordingly, I function notice that I no longer plan to provide questions to staff in advance of an Open Meeting. I promise that I have zero intention of blindsiding or embarrassing staff by asking questions. There should be no gotcha moments. In fact , We only seek to advance further knowledge of the issue and examine arguments that aren’t readily apparent.
Thankfully, the idea of an open questioning procedure is far from revolutionary. Not only has got the Commission utilized this style during the past, but on Capitol Hill during Committee markups, staff sits on the counsel’s table prepared to answer any question from a Congressmen or Senator. I do not doubt for a minute that Commission staff couldn’t fulfil the same function at our Open Meetings and do an equally good – or better – job answering any question posed.
I trust that the Process Review Task Force can examine and reform the current witness invites and staff questioning procedures during Open Meetings along with the many other concrete suggestions I’ve already put forward to improve FCC procedures.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Combatting smart phone theft is a multi-faceted problem that requires the efforts of plus coordination among industry, consumers, law enforcement and others. Part of the equation is enforcing the rules the FCC has in position today to protect private customer info. Second, we must continue to inform customers of ways to guard against phone theft. And lastly, we can continue to follow policies to discourage cell phone fraud by preventing re-use.
The FCC has been proactive plus strong in its enforcement of our consumer privacy rules. Just today, the Bureau announced a record-breaking negotiation with AT& T to settle an investigation into a data breach that impacted nearly 280, 000 consumers. Reading more about the settlement: right here .
To decrease re-use of stolen devices, Leader Wheeler has encouraged the industry to produce lock/wipe/restore functionality operational by default upon all devices. To help guide all of us in future policy efforts, Commission’s Technology Advisory Committee compiled a written report on smart device theft prevention.
Consumers are encouraged to consider the following actions to avoid becoming a victim of smart device theft:
- Take some time to familiarize yourself with the anti-theft features available through your smart device. Besides security passwords, new devices typically offer the capability to remotely lock a device and even delete personal data.
- Protect your device by environment a strong password or PIN or take advantage of newer features such as fingerprint or other biometric identification functions.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Tend not to lend your mobile device to some stranger.
- Tend not to leave your mobile device unwatched.
- Always online backup data.
- Install anti-theft software that offers additional security features beyond standard pre-installed device options.
Most significantly, record your device’s unique identifier, also known as its IMEI or MEIDnumber (tips for doing this are available here). If your device is lost or stolen, provide this information to your wifi carrier, as well as to local law enforcement, and inquire that the device be added to the blacklist.
By implementing these few simple measures, you are able to help protect yourself and your personal information from smart device theft. Remember, if you are a victim of clever device theft, contact your service agency and report the theft to the police immediately. And never try to recover a taken smart device alone .