Kickstarting the New Year

It is the first week in January, and that means it’s time for the yearly pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. Every year, this celebration of technological ingenuity gives us a glimpse of what the future will look like. If there’s one overriding pattern of this year’s show — as well as the past several shows – it’s that everything will be online later on, from our clothes to our cars, every sector of our economy and modern society will be changed by ubiquitous online connectivity. At the FCC, we are focused on seizing the new opportunities created by our wired and wireless broadband networks in most facets of American life. The Commission’s January meeting agenda will reveal the diversity of these efforts, with items to enhance both public basic safety and civic engagement.

For decades, broadcasters have got kept what are now known as “public files, ” which disclose community-relevant information such as political advertising sold and data on ownership and the same employment opportunities. But there’s a catch. For too long, the public could barely access the “public” file. It had been maintained only on paper in file cabinets at the actual radio plus TV stations. In the Internet age group, that didn’t make any feeling, so , in 2012, the FCC adopted rules moving television station’s papers public files online, in a main, Commission-hosted database rather than maintaining document files locally at their major studios. TV broadcasters completed their particular transition to the online file in July 2014. In December 2014, the Commission proposed to extend this work by expanding the online public document database to include cable, DBS, broadcast radio, and satellite radio companies.

We are circulating a Report and Order to my colleagues to finalize that changeover. This proposal does not include new disclosure requirements and would reduce long-term costs for industry. This particular modernization of the public inspection file is plain common sense. The development of the Internet and the expansion of broadband infrastructure have transformed the way society accesses information today. Most significant, the public will gain greater transparency and easier access to the information contained in the public files.

To enhance public safety, We are circulating a second proposal to improve the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the national public warning system. We all propose strengthening EAS by advertising participation on the state and nearby levels, supporting greater testing plus awareness of EAS, leveraging technological improvements, and bolstering EAS security. The particular goal is to promote community readiness and ensure that Americans are best served by the warnings and alerts they will receive during emergencies.

To maximize the benefits of high speed for the American people, we not just need to facilitate innovation in locations like public safety and social engagement, but also to make sure all Americans have advanced communications capabilities. The Commission has a statutory mandate in order to assess and report annually upon whether broadband is being deployed to any or all Americans in a reasonable and well-timed fashion. At our January open meeting, we will take up consideration of our latest Broadband Progress Report.

The report’s topline finding is that consumers require access to both fixed and cellular broadband in today’s world. More, while the nation continues to make significant gains in broadband deployment, 34 million Americans still lack entry to fixed high-speed broadband. Rural Us citizens – especially in Tribal Lands — are being disproportionately left behind, with approximately 40 percent of these populations deficient broadband access, compared to 4 % in urban areas. That’s not good enough.

The record maintains the fixed broadband acceleration standard, set last year, of twenty five Mbps downloads/3 Mbps uploads, whilst leaving to future reports the actual specific mobile broadband benchmark ought to be. Hopefully, this report will catalyze a discussion on how we can do better.

From the DE TELLES showrooms to our own living rooms, we all see evidence that wired plus wireless broadband is changing the way we live. As we enter the brand new year, I look forward to working with our colleagues to explore new ways to funnel the power of communications technology to improve the lives of the American people.


January 7, 2016 — 4: 30 pm

Tom Wheeler | FCC Chairman

It’s the first week within January, and that means it’s period for the annual pilgrimage to Vegas…

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