Archive for October, 2015

Returning to Basics: Accessibility and Public Basic safety

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

November can mark my second anniversary as FCC Chairman. On this occasion, our open meeting agenda reflects the very same focal points I spoke about on my first day. From the outset I have spoken about the Commission’s responsibility to uphold the core values which have historically defined our communications networks, what I call the Network Small. Two of those core values are access and public safety, every will be featured at our upcoming meeting.

If you’re searching for evidence of communications technology’s power to save lives, look no further than the events of July 1, 2013 in Eastern Windsor, Connecticut. A tornado swept through town, tearing apart a good inflatable indoor soccer dome and blowing parts onto the close by highway. Literally two minutes prior to the tornado hit, the soccer dome was filled with 29 children and five camp counselors. With occasions to spare, they were evacuated for an adjoining building where they wanted shelter. The reason they knew to find cover was that the manager from the summer camp received an alert from the National Weather Service on her phone saying a tornado was headed the girl way, and she responded immediately.

The reason she received that will warning was because the FCC and FEMA, working with the wireless market, established the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system to deliver critical info to Americans on their wireless cell phones. Typical messages include severe weather conditions information and Amber Alerts. Since stakeholders have a few years’ experience with the service, we can make it better still.

Today, I’m circulating a proposal to make Wireless Crisis Alerts a more effective tool to communicate important information to the public. For example , we propose to increase the amount and type of information that can be included in alerts and to make it easier for condition and local authorities to send these text messages. WEA has already saved lives. This only makes sense to try to expand the use and increase its performance.

Access is another primary tenet of the Network Compact, and so the FCC has a responsibility to produce communications technology more accessible to Americans with disabilities.

Since 2003, the Commission’s wireless hearing aid compatibility rules have wanted to ensure that Americans with hearing reduction have access to telephone service through a wide range of wireless handsets and other products used for voice communications. Until now, the hearing aid compatibility rules are already focused on handsets used with traditional cellular networks and have only required convenience for a fractional subset of products. Individuals with hearing loss should not be relegated to specific services based on how such services are provided and deserve to have exactly the same mobile communications options as some other consumers.

Next month, the Commission will consider rules that could strengthen accessibility by Americans with hearing loss to emerging and future technologies and services by expanding the scope of our hearing aid compatibility requirements to all types of voice communication. If adopted, this action would cover emerging technologies like Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE in addition to those that may develop in the future.

In addition to these rules, the Commission will lay the research for future improvements by askin stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop a consensus plan for dramatically expanding the kinds of devices that Americans with hearing loss can use. If there is a great way to consider and implement accessibility in front end of the handset-design process, numerous Americans with hearing loss can benefit. The draft item makes clear that a consensus solution is the preferred path forward, but the Commission will likely seek comment on whether there are other techniques it might take to ensure 100 percent of handsets are hearing aid compatible at the same time as promoting innovation and investment decision. These goals are not mutually exclusive.

Just as we want to create phones more accessible to Americans with hearing aids, we want to create video content more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Thanks to FCC rules, video products with “talking menus” and “talking guides” will be available to consumers by December of next year, and these products will dramatically simplify the ability of people who are blind and visually impaired to view television programming. At our own November meeting, we will take additional steps to ensure that individuals who are blind or visually impaired can more easily accessibility video programming on the increasing amount of devices used to view video programming. In particular, our new rules might require covered manufacturers and MVPDs to inform consumers about which obtainable devices and features are available as well as how to use them. We also take additional steps to ensure that consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing may more easily activate closed captioning functions.

I’m pleased see the Commission continue to take steps to support the Network Compact, and say thanks to the Commission staff for their work on these items.

Detroit’s Digital Divide

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

It’s always good to get from Washington. It’s even better when you get to visit one of America’s great metropolitan areas. This week, we have had the satisfaction of visiting the Motor City: Detroit, Michigan.

In the mid-20th century, Detroit’s economy got a boost from a new network of highways that motivated a spike in auto manufacturing from eight million units within 1950 to a peak of fifteen million in the 1970s. Today, new broadband networks are creating increased opportunities for the people of Detroit, but they are also raising new challenges. The most immediate challenge is that an undesirable number of Detroit residents are being bypassed by the broadband revolution. Detroit’s digital divide is among the most extreme within the nation. Thirty-eight percent of its inhabitants do not have broadband at home. For low-income households, the percentage offline is really a whopping 63 percent.

The costs of digital exclusion are high and are obtaining higher. In 2015, if you cannot get online, you will not be able to apply for a work at most large businesses. We have reports of students heading to McDonald’s not merely to buy a value meal, but to accomplish their homework over the free Wi-Fi network. Offline individuals also usually do not enjoy the health benefits offered by remote monitoring and other new technologies. One research estimates that broadband helps a typical U. S. consumer save $8, 800 a year by providing access to deals on goods and services, but most low-income inhabitants of Detroit are missing out. In essence this: If you are not connected to the Internet within 2015, you cannot participate fully within our economy and our democracy. This not only hurts the disconnected. Failing to fully optimize the talents associated with millions of Americans also hurts our own nation.

Today, we were honored to meet along with local leaders at Detroit’s Holly Ford Innovation Institute to discuss the impact of this digital divide within their community and identify possible solutions.

We spoke about ongoing efforts at the FCC to help close the broadband gaps in cities like Detroit. We discussed the Commission’s modernization of E-rate to support high-speed wired and wireless connectivity in our colleges and libraries and the establishment of the Connect America Fund, which will commit $9 billion over six yrs to expand broadband to almost 7. 5 million rural customers. Looking ahead, we spoke about the need to reboot the Commission’s Lifeline program for the Internet age, which will help connect low-income Americans.

But our main message to the people of Detroit was that the FCC cannot solve this problem on its own. There are multiple barriers in order to broadband adoption: from cost, in order to digital literacy to the fact that many People in america do not see the Internet as highly relevant to their lives. If we ever wish to achieve universal broadband in the United States, we are going to need a concerted effort from private sector leaders, the public interest community, and government officials at all levels.

Naturally , Detroit is also known as Hitsville, Oughout. S. A. and local legend Aretha Franklin nicely summed in the need for collective action, “Without one another, there ain’t nothing people can perform. ” It is best for us to come in order to terms about the costs of digital exclusion and work together in order to near these gaps. We are grateful towards the people of Detroit who turned out today to explore solutions in their community and look forward to engaging along with others across the nation to achieve online connectivity for all.

Decision Time on the Incentive Auction

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Today wraps up an important week for the Incentive Public sale with the release of two vital items: the Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid costs for broadcast stations.

Earlier today Chairman Wheeler called this a “watershed moment” just for auction participants, and he’s specifically right. Broadcasters and potential forward auction participants now have in their fingers all of the information they will need to determine whether to participate in the public sale. We have set 6 p. m. on December 18, 2015 , as the date by which interested broadcasters must file their own applications; forward auction bidders must file by 6 p. m. on January 28, 2016 .

After years of planning and deliberations, this thing is real. The Application Treatments PN is the “How to Apply” manual for reverse and forward auction participants. It explains learn how to complete and submit the programs, and provides a detailed schedule of pre-auction bidder education and training activities. It contains detailed attachments covering matters such as the technical details regarding the procedure for determining the spectrum clearing focus on, the algorithms for the reverse plus forward auction bid processing determination procedure, and the bidding units just for determining upfront payments and minimal opening bids in the forward public sale. Concurrently with the Application Procedures PN, additional data and information related to the incentive auction, including the last interference “constraints” and the associated supporting files, have been made available on the Public sale 1000 website (http://www.fcc.gov/auctions/1000).

Today’s release of opening bid prices for broadcasters completes the particular package. For each eligible station, the particular Incentive Auction Task Force has furnished prices for each of the possible bid options available to a station: the option for the station to relinquish its license in full, the option for a UHF station to move to a high-VHF channel, or the option for a UHF or high-VHF station to move to a low-VHF station. Over the past year, we have met with many broadcasters across the country who wanted to better understand the auction and the opportunities this presents. As of today, each potential individual knows the price at which we would begin the bidding for their stations. Now it’s decision time.

What happens next? As we noted within August, the Task Force and the Sales Division will continue our bidder education efforts, which will include a number of webinars, practice sessions, and mock auctions that will begin even before the application deadlines. Once applications are filed, FCC staff will review all of them for accuracy and completeness. Upon March 29, 2016, broadcasters that filed an application from the December 18, 2015, deadline which is deemed complete will make their initial bid commitment as well as the auction will begin. In the intervening months, as Chairman Wheeler indicated nowadays, Task Force and Commission personnel stand ready to assist potential buyers as they prepare to participate in this historic auction.

Your own Feedback is Building a Better FCC. gov

Friday, October 9th, 2015

You spoke; we listened. Since our last update on our FCC. gov modernization project, we built a brand new Beta (i. e. test) edition of FCC. gov based on your own input, and we need your comments again. Building upon the foundation associated with extensive user research done recording – and coupled with additional insight we will receive during this Beta period – the new FCC. gov will be more useful and accessible to FCC stakeholders.

Check out the Beta site at https://prototype.fcc.gov and please tell us what you believe. What works? What doesn’t? And don’t get worried: you can still access the old content and features at FCC. gov while we perfect the new site.

What’s New?

The new Beta site is Drupal-based and responsive, which means the display will optimize based upon the device you are using to view the site such as PC, mobile phone, or capsule.

The Beta website is also connected to our document databases, EDOCS and ECFS, via application programming interfaces (APIs). The APIs allow real-time EDOCS and ECFS updates to display in ‘Headlines’ and ‘Most Active Proceedings’. FCC applications will also be updated and increasingly cloud-based, similar to our new Consumer Help Desk.

All of the content that resides on the current FCC. gov has already been migrated to the new, Drupal-based site. We are currently integrating this article into new information architecture, which means additional and improved ways of being able to access and interacting with all the information currently available upon FCC. gov.

Finally, with considerable help from FCC’s Bureau and Workplace staff, we have created a new taxonomy that will be used to classify web content. This will allow us to use Drupal features that make search easier, allow for better content discoverability across the site, and automate lists of content on a variety of topics.

Next Steps

We are looking for your feedback, and motivate you to keep an eye on the Beta site for bi-weekly code updates, new content, and blog updates featuring what’s changing.

Based on the additional feedback we all receive during the website’s extended Beta period, we intend to complete the switch to the new site fully later this fall with more details to be shared in the weeks ahead.

On behalf of everyone at FCC, thanks for all of the comments we’ve received to date. You can carry on submitting input for consideration and any bugs you find on https://prototype.fcc.gov/ via a web form or email.

Securing RF Devices Amid Changing Technologies

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

This summer, the particular Commission opened a rulemaking proceeding with the goal of modernizing our approval process for radio devices to help us keep pace with the accelerating introduction of an ever-expanding breadth of wireless devices and items into the marketplace.

The proposed rules will help the Percentage not only better address the facts of device manufacture and make use of today but plan for the range policy of the future. As Chairman Wheeler has announced, this month the particular Commission will consider a rulemaking for the use of higher-frequency bands for cellular and other uses that will “focus on developing a flexible regulatory framework that will enable maximum use of higher-frequency bands by a wide variety of providers, ” including “hybrid shared models” to promote more versatile use in higher bands.

But flexible use requires producers, users, and the FCC to be a lot more vigilant in monitoring and avoiding harmful interference – and that’s where this new rulemaking proceeding plays a critical role. The rulemaking will establish for all device home loan approvals a policy that the Commission has followed for individual device categories during the last few years of requiring manufacturers in order to certify that a device cannot be customized by the installation of third party software in a manner that causes those devices to create harmful interference.

For instance, in 2014 the Commission adopted a written report & Order in the U-NII proceeding establishing new rules for devices operating in the 5GHz band to deal with interference with FAA Doppler weather radar systems caused by modifications in order to RF devices. The Commission followed a rule requiring manufacturers in order to implement security measures to ensure that “third parties are not able to reprogram the device to work outside the [RF] guidelines for which the device was certified. ”

In that proceeding, the particular Commission declined to specify the particular technical solutions that a manufacturer might use to secure the device against modifications that could cause interference and particularly declined to require that producers “lock down” or otherwise render a tool inoperable if third party firmware can be installed. In fact , a number of manufacturers filed comments in that proceeding explaining exactly how some of their products already include protection measures that prevent RF modifications without banning third party firmware installation.

Shortly after adopting the rules, OET staff issued guidance in order to applicants for equipment certification. The document included a series of questions (many proposed by commenters in the proceeding) intended to identify, among other details, “how the device is protected from ‘flashing’ and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT” that would modify the particular RF parameters in a way that would take the device out of compliance and trigger harmful interference. This is consistent with the particular rule itself as well as the Commission’s preference not to prescribe specific security options or prevent a device from functioning in the event third party software is installed.

Nevertheless, our 2014 guidance on the 5 GHz rules has prompted some question as to whether the intent of the current proceeding would be to ban third party firmware installation on devices, particularly for Wi-Fi routers. To be clear, it is not: like the U-NII rules we adopted, the proposed rules do not require device makers to prevent installation of third party firmware or otherwise favor specific security solutions.

Quite the contrary, the particular proposed rules would require producers to select the security method they deem appropriate to prevent modifications that take the device out of compliance. They would further build a process by which third parties could seek approval for software modifications that alter the RF parameters in manners that do not conflict with a device’s certification. The goal of these proposed guidelines is to establish accountability in the certification process that reflects the facts of how these devices are used – plus modified – today.

The cornerstone of a flexible make use of spectrum regime is interference avoidance and, this requires that devices work within their authorized parameters. The proposed rules aim to create a certification procedure that recognizes this goal with out creating burdensome red tape for producers and headaches for users while also allowing innovative solutions simply by 3rd party vendors. It’s critical that individuals get the details right, and we anticipate fielding comments in the record this particular fall.

Thinking Globally, Acting on Mobile

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

One of the Commission’s biggest difficulties is to make sure our rules plus policies evolve to reflect major changes in the communications and technology surroundings. Two of the biggest developments of the digital age are that the economy has gone global and everything is going cellular. Today, I’m circulating two items to boost U. S. competitiveness within our global economy by removing barriers to private investment and unleashing mobile innovation.

Few sectors of our economy hold more promise for economic growth, job creation and U. S. management than mobile communications. The cellular apps economy is a “made-in-the-USA” phenomenon that has already created more than 750, 000 U. S. jobs. Greater than 99 percent of smartphones worldwide run U. S. operating systems, upward from about 20 percent last year. And one of the biggest edges for that U. S. is that we were the first in line to deploy LTE wireless networks at scale, making America the test mattress for early 4G innovation. Roughly half of American mobile subscribers experienced 4G connections at the end of 2014, in comparison to 13 percent of subscribers in Europe and 10 percent in Asian countries.

To maintain our management position, we need to continue looking to the future and act now to facilitate the next generation – the fifth generation – of mobile technology. The fifth generation of mobile networks could leverage both low-band plus high-band spectrum to provide significantly greater wi-fi broadband speeds for consumers.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking I am circulating today is a crucial step toward creating an environment for this next generation of wireless to develop, take hold, and explode across the United states of america.

This NPRM proposes a framework for flexible range use rules for bands over 24 GHz, including for cellular broadband use. Promoting flexible, dynamic spectrum use has been the bedrock that has helped the United States become a globe leader in wireless.

We are leveraging regulatory advances plus propose to use market-based mechanisms that will allow licensees to provide any service – fixed, mobile, private, commercial, plus satellite – depending on the band, and permit unlicensed uses to continue to increase. We are proposing to create a space that leverages the properties of this high band spectrum to simultaneously meet the needs of different users.

At the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference, one of the agenda items will set the bands to be studied for the future WRC-19. The bands we suggest in this NPRM are consistent with the particular U. S. position, and we are committed to working with both domestic plus international partners on developing guidelines for these bands and on conducting specialized sharing and compatibility studies.
We are not only thinking globally to make sure that we can export U. S. advancement, we want to make sure U. S. markets have clear rules of the road for foreign investment.

Thanks to the leadership and thoughtful program suggested by Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the second item being circulated nowadays is a proposal that builds for the 2013 Broadcast Clarification Order simply by modernizing the processes for broadcasters to demonstrate compliance with foreign possession rules. In particular, the NPRM seeks comment on simplifying the foreign possession approval process for broadcast licensees by extending the rules and treatments that currently apply to other classes of licensees to broadcast licensees.

As a result, the proposed rules will update the filing and review process – many so it is better adapted to the current company environment – while at the same time preserving the particular Commission’s case-by-case public interest evaluation and national security protections.

Collectively, these actions can unleash innovation and investment plus help promote continued U. T. leadership in our global economy.