Federal Communications Commission

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Unleashing America’s Invisible Infrastructure

October 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Just last week, President Obama said that to create jobs today and lay the foundation for economic growth and U.S. competitiveness in the future, “We need … a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century.”

When most people think of infrastructure, they think of visible projects like highways, bridges or high-speed rail.

But just as vital is our invisible infrastructure – the electromagnetic spectrum that travels unseen through the air and enables all of our wireless communications networks, cellular voice and data services, as well as radio, broadcast TV, and satellite.

Wireless innovation fuels economic growth and job creation. Sales of smartphone “apps” – an industry that didn’t exist a few years ago -- topped $4 billion in 2009; our new apps economy has created many jobs and can create more. Our invisible infrastructure also supports breakthrough tools to improve education through mobile online learning and e-books, enhance health care through potentially life-saving remote diagnostics, and promote energy efficiency by supporting the smart grid.

But we are at an inflection point.

The explosive growth in mobile communications is outpacing our ability to keep up. Spectrum is finite. If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to run into a wall – a spectrum crunch – that will stifle American innovation and economic growth and cost us the opportunity to lead the world in mobile communications.

Today, many of the nation’s leading experts on wireless technologies gathered at the FCC for a spectrum summit to identify ways we can solve the spectrum crunch and unleash our invisible infrastructure to spark our economy and create a powerful engine for job creation.

I kicked off the discussion with some remarks that highlighted some of the strategies we are pursuing at the FCC to make more spectrum available and put it to its best use.

I hope you will check out my speech, and I encourage you to watch other videos from the summit, which feature national leaders like Aneesh Chopra, our nation’s Chief Technology Officer, and Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, as well as my fellow Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker.

The future is being built on our invisible infrastructure. Today’s summit identifies important ways we can work together to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century and make sure that infrastructure truly serves our country’s needs.

(Cross-posted at Reboot Blog)

Broadband and a Clean Energy Economy

May 19th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

I was pleased to host the FCC’s first Clean Technology Summit at our headquarters yesterday, with the much-appreciated assistance of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.

I believe their visits were unprecedented – the first time that a FERC Chairman or Energy Secretary had ever stepped foot in the FCC building.  Our promising new collaborative efforts reflect the critical role that communications networks will play in the transition to a clean-energy economy – evidence that we collected and analyzed in our National Broadband Plan and submitted to Congress and the President last month.

Broadband will play a major role in realizing a sustainable environmental future.  Yesterday, we were able to witness first-hand the enormous potential that advanced communications unleash.  Secretary Chu, Chairman Wellinghoff and I observed broadband-based technologies that will help build a smarter grid, smarter homes and buildings, and help empower consumers to make smarter and greener decisions with their energy consumption. A recent DOE study found that that Smart Grid can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by as much as 12% by 2030, the equivalent of removing 65 million cars off of roads today.  When consumers are empowered to interact with their own energy data, studies have found reductions in consumption as high as 15% - annual savings opportunities in hundreds of dollars for households across America. Though it often feels like the technology and possibility of tomorrow, yesterday’s summit showed that tomorrow is arriving right now.

The private sector will unleash green-tech innovation upon the country if we achieve more ubiquitous broadband deployment and empower consumers with their energy data. I applaud the Obama Administration and leaders in Congress for their commitment to the importance of the National Broadband Plan recommendations and know that together, we can build a 21st Century broadband economy.

Message to NCTA

May 13th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Cable’s story is a great American story.  It’s a tale of visionary entrepreneurs and pioneers who recognized the potential in a new technology, took big risks, and helped build an industry that in many ways has reshaped our nation.

Pioneers like Ralph Roberts, who, in 1962, thought it would be a good business idea to buy a 1,200-subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi; Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin, who had a crazy notion that people would pay for television; and Ted Turner, who saw a market for a “superstation” and later a 24-hour news network.

Taking advantage of opportunities that Congress and the FCC created, these leaders galvanized the larger cable industry to invest billions of dollars.  Cable soon emerged as America’s most popular entertainment platform, eventually attracting 62 million video customers and supporting 1.5 million jobs.

But it didn’t stop there.  A new generation of cable pioneers saw the future, and it was broadband.  Identifying a new world of technology solutions and business opportunities, and spurred by government measures that promoted the development of a competing satellite TV platform, cable innovators developed the cable modem, providing consumers high-speed access to the Internet. 

Since 1996, the cable industry has collectively invested many billions of dollars in broadband access networks, which itself has spurred telephone companies and others to invest massive sums in broadband, while also unleashing Internet companies, large and small, to invest massive sums in content, applications, and services that consumers access through broadband networks. 

Today, broadband is the indispensible infrastructure of the 21st century economy.  It is rapidly becoming our primary platform for innovation, economic growth, and enduring job creation.  A vibrant, ubiquitous, high-speed Internet — characterized by openness and freedom — is vital to our global competitiveness, to U.S. global leadership in innovation, and to our ability to design, develop, and distribute new Internet-fueled products here in the United States and export them to the rest of the world.

Broadband is vital also for helping solve pressing national challenges like education, health care, energy, and public safety – if  all Americans are connected, whether they live in rural towns, urban cities, or in between.  Broadband can give every American child real opportunity in our 21st century economy – if we ensure that all of our children have the digital tools, training, and broadband access they need.  Broadband can lead to better health care and reduce health costs – if all doctors, clinics, hospital, and patients are connected with broadband of sufficient speed to allow for remote diagnostics and the transfer of MRIs and other bandwidth-consuming information and applications.  Broadband can help accelerate a clean and lower cost energy future – if universal broadband is integrated with smart grids and powers universally accessible applications that reduce energy use.  And broadband can save lives – if our first responders finally have a mobile broadband communications network and we otherwise pursue policies to promote public safety and protect Americans in a broadband world.

Broadband is vital for free speech and for our democracy, for speakers to reach audiences without censorship and for expanding participation in the marketplace of ideas.  And broadband is vital for an improved and efficient e-government in the 21st century, providing better services to American citizens at lower costs.

I recognize and applaud the cable industry for its investment in America’s broadband future.  The existence of the cable broadband plant in the United States, in addition to the telephone companies’ infrastructure, provides us with the potential for a significant global competitive advantage. 

Still, we are not yet where we need to be when it comes to broadband.

The United States is lagging other nations according to key measures of network speed and adoption, threatening America’s global competitiveness. Some studies of network speeds place the U.S. as low as 18th globally, and the overall U.S. adoption rate of 65% compares to over 90% in some other countries.  Many communities in America are lagging even further behind in broadband adoption, including rural Americans, minorities, low-income citizens, and Americans with disabilities. More than 93 million Americans don’t have broadband at home, and 14 to 24 million live in areas where they couldn’t get it if they wanted it.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world increasingly recognizes the power of ubiquitous, high-speed Internet access to spur innovation and job creation in their countries.

One illuminating and alarming study looked at broadband and several other key metrics relating to competitiveness and innovation.  It placed the U.S. 40th out of 40 industrial countries ranked in “the rate of change in innovative capacity.” 

For the U.S., when it comes to broadband, to stand still is to fall behind.

For these reasons, I was pleased that Congress entrusted the FCC with developing a National Broadband Plan, which the FCC released in March.  The Broadband Plan ranks among the most important projects in FCC history.  Broadband networks are our 21st century communications networks.  As the Commission said unanimously in its Joint Statement on Broadband: “Working to make sure that America has world-leading high-speed broadband networks—both wired and wireless—lies at the very core of the FCC’s mission in the 21st Century.”

The National Broadband Plan is guided by a set of three principles aimed at realizing the transformative power of broadband and grounded in experience.

First, the private sector must play the leading role in extending broadband networks across our nation, and a healthy return on investment is both desirable and necessary to spur risk taking and capital investment in broadband.

The United States is one of few nations where cable is the major broadband provider. And because of the investments in DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades, cable’s networks offer fast and increasingly faster speeds in many markets.  And just as satellite TV was a positive competitive spur to cable’s development of the cable modem, the cable broadband infrastructure has been a positive competitive spur to the telephone companies’ development of fiber and other competitive high-speed networks.  The Broadband Plan sets ambitious goals of 1-gigabit service to at least one public anchor institution in every community, and affordable 100-megabit service to 100 million households.  Cable and telco broadband infrastructure are essential to achieving those goals.

As with broadband deployment, the private sector has an equally essential role to play in spurring broadband adoption.  The costs of digital exclusion are high and getting higher.  Broadband access is increasingly necessary for finding and applying for jobs, and digital skills are increasingly necessary for being eligible for jobs.  Broadband access is increasingly necessary for education, for health care, for basic safety.

I commend NCTA and the cable industry for its “Adoption-plus” initiative and for its leadership role in the Digital Adoption Coalition, a public-private partnership working to invest in making discounted equipment, service, and training available to lower-income urban and rural areas.  These are strong first steps.  I look forward to energetic implementation, to working together, and to achieving results.  Everyone wins if we can increase broadband adoption from 65% to the National Broadband Plan’s 90% goal for 2020, and ultimately to universal adoption.
The second principle is that smart, but restrained government policies can have a positive impact on industry growth.

Historically, cable has been a beneficiary of pro-investment, pro-competition policies.  In the 1970s, the government pushed through opposition from competing industries and adopted policies to remove barriers and accelerate cable television service, including creating low-cost opportunities for cable pioneers to deploy their infrastructure on utility poles nationwide.  In the 1980s, the government nurtured and incentivized cable’s growth by ensuring that competition to cable would be fair and healthy.  And in the 1990s, the government green lit cable’s entry into the local voice business, and telephone’s entry into video. These and other smart government policies fueled cable’s explosive growth, ensuring the construction of the wired broadband infrastructure we have today. 

The National Broadband Plan builds on this history with recommendations to lower the cost of broadband deployment, for example by cutting red tape around pole attachments and rights-of-way.

It also calls for a once-in-a-generation transformation of the Universal Service Fund from supporting yesterday’s telephone service to tomorrow’s broadband access service – doing it in a way that reforms and wrings savings out of the existing fund, as we put in place a new Connect America Fund that will efficiently support broadband service.

Finally, the National Broadband Plan is guided by the principle that competition in a free market is essential to drive innovation, encourage investment, and spur consumer benefits. 

A specific area where the plan includes recommendations to unleash competition and innovation is in the smart video device market.  Just as a shopping mall presents customers with numerous retail outlets, smart video devices can offer viewers a single window into pay-TV content, Internet content, and content that a viewer has already bought or archived.  Consumers want devices that can navigate the universe of video programming, from multiple sources, in a simple integrated way.  But there is not enough competition driving innovation.  Last month the FCC launched a proceeding to establish new standards and spur competition.  The NCTA’s consumer principles are playing a constructive role on policy development relating to the integration of traditional TV and the Internet experience, and I’m pleased that cable’s leaders have embraced our goal to drive innovation in this area.

I’m also pleased that last week the Commission took an important step involving selectable output controls to enable a potential new business model for content creators and cable companies, in a reasonable way that enhances consumer choice and guards against piracy. 

I believe that to spur competition we need an Internet that is both open and trusted, that meaningfully protects consumer freedom and choice, incentivizes innovation both in the core of broadband networks and on the edge, and ensures that businesses can develop business models that provide a real return on investment and protect intellectual property.

The National Broadband Plan also includes recommendations to promote transparency to broadband subscribers, and otherwise provide basic protections to consumers, innovators, small businesses, and new entrants from all regions and all communities.  And it recommends steps to address vital public safety and cybersecurity challenges raised by our country’s shift to broadband communications networks.

Since the plan was delivered to Congress in March, the breadth and depth of the support and praise has been encouraging, and a real testament to the FCC staff who worked so hard to run a fair, open, and data-driven process, and to develop ideas to drive toward U.S. leadership in broadband.  In a space where consensus can certainly be elusive, more than 3,000 companies throughout the broadband ecosystem, nonprofit organizations, and others have applauded the FCC staff’s work.

Unfortunately, the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision in the Comcast case raises serious questions about whether the legal framework the FCC chose nearly a decade ago is adequate to implement key provisions of the National Broadband Plan, including universal service reform; basic protections for consumers, innovators and entrepreneurs; public safety and cybersecurity; and others.
The court decision has not changed our broadband policy objectives one iota. But it did damage the legal foundation underneath these objectives.  I was comfortable with the Commission’s prior approach. We defended it in court; we argued that Title I gave us the authority we needed. But the court disagreed. This decision creates uncertainty, and risks compromising our common goals of pursuing world-class broadband for all Americans. 

We’ve now got to fix the legal foundation.  The design concept for the solution we’ve proposed is simple:  let’s find a solid legal foundation to move forward on key policy outcomes previously identified without doing anything more than necessary to achieve that purpose.

Last week, I proposed a narrowly tailored approach to do that.

It rejects both extremes – the extreme of doing nothing, and the extreme of imposing massive regulations on broadband.

Under this light touch approach, the FCC would invoke only the handful of provisions in the Communications Act necessary to achieve limited but essential broadband goals.  This is not about unbundling and price regulation. It’s about fixing the basic legal foundation – having a narrowly tailored path to move forward on previously identified policy outcomes.  We’re going to continue to rely on competitive markets.  

This Third Way approach is modeled on approaches that have worked and continue to work -- for example, the regulatory framework for mobile voice communications, which involves select application of a small number of Title II provisions and broad forbearance.  That approach, in place for many years, has provided certainty and confidence, and I am committed to ensuring that it provides the same certainty and confidence as applied to broadband access.  Indeed, today over 800 rural telephone companies voluntarily provide broadband access under a Title II framework that is less clearly delimited than the Third Way I have proposed.

Will this approach serve as the basis for a broad restructuring of how broadband providers do business?  No.

Will it serve as the basis for regulatory creep?  No. And we’ve suggested ways to have clear and lasting boundaries against regulatory overreach.

The American people rightfully expect a reasonable and solid legal framework to promote broadband everywhere, to protect fair competition, to protect consumers, and to preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet and its ability to remain a platform for innovation, job creation and free speech.

I will ask my Commission colleagues to join me in soon launching a public process on the issues raised by the court decision and inviting new ideas.  This process would begin with a Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Forbearance that seek public comment on our proposed approach, along with any other approaches, for restoring the pre-Comcast status quo framework.

I call on the cable industry and all stakeholders to work with us productively to secure a solid legal foundation for our broadband future, and to implement policies that will promote the kind of innovation, investment, and entrepreneurship exhibited by cable’s pioneers. 

The Comcast decision has created a problem.  Let’s approach it with the philosophy of the business community: let’s work together to solve it.  Together, we can ensure that the U.S. has world-leading broadband deployment and adoption, and that our country can realize the benefits of broadband’s transformative power to fuel our economy and improve the lives of all Americans.

The Future of Internet Policy in America

May 7th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

 Read video transcript here.

The Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework

May 6th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Broadband is increasingly essential to our daily lives. It is fast becoming the primary way we as Americans connect with one another, do business, educate ourselves and our children, receive health care information and services, and express our opinions. As a unanimous FCC said a few weeks ago in our Joint Statement on Broadband, “Working to make sure that America has world-leading high-speed broadband networks—both wired and wireless—lies at the very core of the FCC’s mission in the 21st Century.”

 Many have asked about the future of Internet policy and the FCC’s role in that future in light of the recent decision in the Comcast case.  Today I have issued a statement that describes a path forward, which will begin with seeking public comment on a narrow and tailored legal foundation for the FCC’s approach to broadband communications services.  Our goal is to restore the broadly supported status quo consensus that existed prior to the Comcast decision regarding the FCC’s role with respect to broadband Internet service.

This statement describes a framework to support policies that advance our global competitiveness and preserve the Internet as a powerful platform for innovation, free speech, and job creation.  I remain open to all ideas on the best approach to achieve our country’s vital goals with respect to high-speed broadband for all Americans, and the Commission proceeding to follow will seek comment on multiple legal theories and invite new ideas.

Hitting the Ground Running on the National Broadband Plan

April 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Almost two weeks ago, the Commission reached a major milestone in moving from planning to action on the National Broadband Plan. On April 8, we released the 2010 Broadband Action Agenda that sets out the timing and purpose of more than 60 concrete Commission proceedings and actions to take place over the next year.

This action agenda is unprecedented in ambition and transparency. And that fits the importance of the Plan’s goals of:
  • Ensuring that the U.S. has a broadband communications infrastructure that enables us to compete globally and remain the world leader in innovation in the 21st century;
  • Ensuring that every American benefits from the economic promise and social opportunity that broadband affords;
  • Ensuring that consumers are protected and empowered, and competition promoted in broadband communications; and
  • Ensuring that, in a world of broadband communications networks, our public safety and homeland security is protected.
Broadband communications is an essential element of job creation and economic growth, and can play a critical role in addressing so many of our major national challenges, from education to health care, energy to public safety.
That’s why we have laid out an aggressive roadmap for executing on key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.
At today’s monthly Commission meeting, we are initiating six major proceedings across four Bureaus that enable us to move forward on the hard work of implementing the Plan. Specifically:
  • We begin the process of initiating a once-in-a-generation transformation of the Universal Service Fund, in order to connect all Americans to broadband, including Americans who live and work in rural areas. 
  • We also launch two proceedings to lay out a new foundation for fulfilling Congress’s mandate to ensure a competitive marketplace for video navigation devices.
  • In the area of mobile, we revise our voice roaming rules to improve the ability of American consumers to receive voice service whenever and wherever they travel, while also encouraging carriers of all sizes to invest, innovate, and deploy new networks. We also seek comment on a framework for achieving the same goals with respect to mobile broadband services -- perhaps the most exciting and dynamic sector of the communications landscape.
  • And for the safety of all Americans, we launch a proceeding to ensure the survivability of broadband communications infrastructure to protect against terrorist attacks, natural disasters, pandemics, or other major public emergencies. We also consider a voluntary cyber security certification program to help protect our country’s critical communications infrastructure against a new and serious threat.
This is fast action, and of course it’s not our first action. Even before the release of the Plan, we began acting on concrete ideas to address broadband availability, affordability, and adoption for Americans, by:
  • Adopting an order to cut through red tape on tower siting to accelerate mobile broadband build-out;
  • Taking action to increase flexibility of schools receiving E-Rate funding to serve their communities with broadband access; and
  • Enabling build-out of critical healthcare networks by announcing funding commitments and giving participants in the Rural Health Care Pilot Program the additional time needed to select vendors and request commitments.
Since the release of the Plan, we also approved a transaction involving MSS spectrum that opens the door for creation of a new mobile broadband network, billions of dollars of new investment, and thousands of new American jobs. 
As an initial step towards making available 500 megahertz of spectrum for broadband use within 10 years with 300 megahertz for mobile broadband within 5 years, we issued a Public Notice announcing draft rules for WCS-SDARS and inviting public comment. 
In order to improve transparency, information, and competition in the broadband ecosystem, we launched the Consumer Survey and the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Survey to begin to collect better data than is currently available on broadband adoption, usage, attitudes, and needs by consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses.
We also launched a suite of new media tools to improve transparency to the American public, for example by allowing consumers to test the speeds of fixed and mobile broadband connections and to view how spectrum is used via the Commission’s Spectrum Dashboard
I’m also pleased that other agencies and parts of government have begun energetic processes to implement key recommendations of the Plan. I understand they are putting together their own implementation plans arising out of the National Broadband Plan.  
And the broadband team has helped to drive the launch of several important public-private partnerships that will help bring broadband and broadband training to several communities at risk of being left behind: seniors, small businesses, low-income households, and community institutions like schools and clinics. These include initiatives such as:
  • Project GOAL that promotes adoption of broadband services by older adults;
  • The Small Business Coalition that provides digital literacy and training tools to small businesses;
  • “Apps for Inclusion” to develop mobile and online applications that have a social purpose;
  • Digital Adoption Coalition, made up of industry leaders in cable, telecommunications, software, hardware, and other technology players working together with the nonprofit sector to invest in making discounted equipment, service, and training available to lower income urban and rural areas; and
  • A consortium of leading deployment and infrastructure technology companies looking to upgrade institutional connectivity to 40,000 community anchor institutions.
Like the professional process conducted by the broadband team and Commission leading up to the Plan, the processes for our implementation of the Plan will be characterized by transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability. To enable the public to monitor our activities and progress, we have put up a tracking tool on the website.
I believe it is vitally important that the Commission move forward, as it is doing today, to act on the broadband plan’s roadmap to protect America’s global competitiveness and public safety, and help deliver the extraordinary benefits of broadband communications to all Americans. 
Working to make sure that America has world-leading high-speed broadband networks lies at the very core of the FCC’s mission in the 21st century. I believe this essential mission is completely consistent with the Communications Act and I am confident that the Commission has the authority to implement the broadband plan. 
As we evaluate the recent Comcast decision, I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that our actions are rooted in a sound legal foundation, designed to foster investment and innovation, promote competition, and protect and empower consumers.
The magnitude and importance of this agenda, and the workload it creates, require a disciplined management process. The FCC staff have all exemplified the kind of strength and leadership we need to accomplish this vital work together for the country. We stand ready to support their work, and the country appreciates their efforts.


The National Broadband Plan

March 16th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Today, the FCC delivered on one of the most important directives Congress and the President have ever given our agency:  A directive to prepare “a national broadband plan [that] shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability.” 

Why is this assignment so important? 

  • First, because broadband is essential to our global competitiveness – and our ability to create jobs and lead the world in innovation in the 21st century.
  • Second, because broadband is essential for opportunity in America – for all Americans, from all communities and backgrounds, living in rural towns, inner cities, or in between. 
  • And, third, because broadband is essential to solving so many of the challenges facing our nation --  including education, health care, energy and public safety.

We need a strategic plan for broadband in America, because, notwithstanding the many exciting things happening here around wired and wireless broadband, our country is not where it should be. 
The U.S. is lagging globally in broadband adoption and speeds; certain communities within the U.S. are lagging; and the costs of digital exclusion grow higher every day as vital services are increasingly moving online. 

The good news is that we can change course, and the National Broadband Plan points the way.

The plan sets ambitious, but achievable goals, including 1-gigabit connections to every community; affordable, 100 megabits broadband to 100 million households; and raising adoption from 65% to 90% adoption, heading to 100%.

Billions of dollars in private investment will be required to achieving these goals.

At the same time, government has a crucial, but restrained, role to play. The Plan includes recommendations to:

  • Finally transform the FCC’s Universal Service Fund from yesterday’s communications to tomorrow’s;
  • Recover and unleash licensed and unlicensed spectrum so that we can lead the world in mobile;
  • Cut red tape, lowering the cost of private investment, and accelerating network deployment;
  • Promote competition and empower consumers; and
  • Tackle vital inclusion challenges, so that everyone, everywhere can enjoy the benefits of broadband.

In these challenging economic times, a focus on job creation, investment, and fiscal responsibility is also mandatory, and I’m pleased that the Plan proposes actions that are revenue neutral, even before looking at the benefits from job creation and new investment.

We now pivot from planning to action. The FCC will focus with laser-like precision on efficient and effective ways to implement the plan’s recommendations.
We’ll be doing this through a process that’s open, participatory, fact-based, and analytically rigorous. 

The broader the participation, the better the results will be.  I urge everyone to visit and get engaged.

Working together, we can unleash on behalf of all America’s people the power of a technology with the greatest potential to advance our economic and social well-being since the advent of electricity. 

America’s 2020 Broadband Vision

February 17th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

In a month, the Federal Communications Commission will deliver a National Broadband Plan, as it was asked to do by Congress and the President in the Recovery Act. 

This will be a meaningful plan for U.S. global leadership in high-speed Internet to create jobs and spur economic growth; to unleash new waves of innovation and investment; and to improve education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety, and the vibrancy of our democracy. 

I believe this plan is vitally important to America’s future. 

Studies from the Brookings Institute, MIT, the World Bank, and others all tell us the same thing -- that even modest increases in broadband adoption can yield hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Broadband empowers small businesses to compete and grow and will ensure that the jobs and industries of tomorrow are created in the United States. 

The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life for all Americans. 

The National Broadband Plan will describe concrete ways in which broadband can be a part of 21st century solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing challenges, including:

  • Extending the availability and lowering the costs of quality care by putting digital health tools in the hands of doctors and hospitals across the country and removing geographic barriers for patient treatment.  
  • Providing our kids with a world class, 21st century education, connecting them to the global library and giving them the digital skills they need for the future.
  • Making our electric grid smart and efficient and providing Americans with the information they need to make their homes and buildings smarter.  
  • Ensuring that law enforcement officers and first responders across the country have cutting-edge, reliable communications technologies to respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively. 

These are real benefits for real people -- like the unemployed forty-seven-year-old I met in the Bronx who got job training over the Internet to become a telecom technician. And the employees of Blue Valley Meats, in the small town of Diller, Nebraska, which doubled its workforce and saw 40 percent growth by setting up a website and selling its beef online -- once Diller got broadband. 

But right now, we are at a crossroads. For while the United States invented the Internet, when it comes to broadband we are lagging behind where we should be.

Roughly 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband, and more than 100 million Americans who could and should have broadband don’t. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of U.S. households, compared with 88 percent adoption in Singapore, and 82 percent adoption in South Korea. The U.S. adoption rate is even lower among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.

This country can and must do better.  In today’s global economy, leading the world in broadband is leading the world. 

This is where the National Broadband Plan comes in.  By setting ambitious goals and laying out proposals to connect all Americans to a world-class broadband infrastructure, we will help secure our country’s global competitiveness for generations to come.

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan will include the following key recommendations:

  • 100 Squared Initiative: 100 million households at a minimum of 100 megabits per second (Mbs) -- the world’s largest market of high-speed broadband users -- to ensure that new businesses are created in America and stay in America.
  • Broadband Testbeds: Encourage the creation of ultra high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than any Internet service in the world, so that America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow’s ideas and industries.
  • Digital Opportunities: Expand digital opportunities by moving our adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent and making sure that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school. 

The quantitative and qualitative benefits of these proposals -- and the many others that the FCC’s plan will contain -- are vast.  Connecting the country to higher speeds means more jobs, more innovation, and more economic growth.

The National Broadband Plan will chart a clear path forward -- ensuring that broadband is our enduring engine for creating jobs and growing our economy, for spreading knowledge and enhancing civic engagement, for advancing a healthier, sustainable way of life.

Pursuing the opportunity of universal broadband is, I believe, a universal goal. Our technology future is one that we can -- and must -- create together.

[Cross-Posted on the White House Blog and the FCC Blog.]

A Note From The Chairman...

November 11th, 2009 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Chairman GenachowskiI recently had the privilege of visiting our troops in the Gulf region, and of meeting with a number of senior officers from U.S. Central Command, stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. My goal was to better understand the complexities and challenges of military communications, and explore ways the FCC can support the mission of our military.

I couldn’t have been more impressed by the extraordinary group – from Generals to enlisted men and women. They face daunting challenges every day with a can-do spirit and a deep commitment to our country.

From a communications perspective, the military’s challenges include using multiple radio, radar, and computer networks to support real-time battle management; conducting and defending against “electronic warfare” designed to disable communications; and supporting construction or reconstruction of communications infrastructure in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

I learned a great deal from these enormously experienced officers, and we discussed a number of shared priorities, such as making the best use of scarce spectrum and ensuring interoperability, whether between members of different military services or different categories of civilian first responders. We also discussed how the FCC might benefit from military expertise, as well as the FCC’s role in supporting the military’s communications efforts – for example, with respect to commercial communications facilities used by the military, and our ability to lend expertise to nations still developing their regulatory frameworks for communications.

While at the Base, I was able to see firsthand the importance of broadband connectivity in the daily lives of our troops. I visited the Base’s innovative education and online learning center, where troops can work towards college degree and other continuing education. I spoke with an expert working to place military medical records online, with the potential of real life-saving benefits to soldiers. And I spoke with troops at the Base’s recreational plaza, where WiFi access lets them keep in touch with families and friends through VoIP and social networking tools. There was a consistent and strong feeling that Internet access was a major plus for troop morale.

It was a privilege to visit the troops, and I’m humbled by their service.

“The Open Internet: Preserving the Freedom to Innovate”

September 21st, 2009 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Julius GenachowskiThe Internet is the most transformational communications breakthrough of our time. It has become essential to the fabric of the daily lives of Americans.

More and more, the Internet is how we get news, information, and entertainment; how we stay in touch with our friends and family; how we work and start new businesses; how we -- and people across the globe -- learn about our communities and express points of view.

The Internet has also been an extraordinary platform for innovation, job creation, economic growth, and opportunity. It has unleashed the potential of entrepreneurs and enabled the launch and growth of small businesses across America.

The key to the Internet's success has been its openness.

The Internet was designed to be "future-proof" -- to support ideas, products, and services that today's inventors have not yet imagined. In practice, it doesn't favor or disfavor any particular content or application, but allows end users, content creators, and businesses of every size and in every sector of the economy to communicate and innovate without permission.

Notwithstanding its unparalleled record of success, today the free and open Internet faces emerging and substantial challenges.

We've already seen some clear examples of deviations from the Internet's historic openness. We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen one service provider deny users access to political content.

And as many members of the Internet community and key Congressional leaders have noted, there are compelling reasons for concern about even greater challenges to openness in the future, including reduced choice in the Internet service provider marketplace and an increase in the amount of Internet traffic, which has fueled a corresponding need to manage networks sensibly.

The rise of serious challenges to the traditional operation of the Internet puts us at a crossroads. We could see technology used to shut doors to entrepreneurs instead of opening them. The spirit of innovation stifled. A full and free flow of information compromised.

Or we could take steps to preserve a free and open Internet, helping to ensure a future of opportunity, prosperity, and the vibrant flow of information and ideas.

I believe we must choose to safeguard the openness that has made the Internet a stunning success. That is why today, I delivered a speech announcing that the FCC will be the smart cop on the beat when it comes to preserving a free and open Internet.

In particular, I proposed that the FCC adopt two new rules to help achieve this.

The first says broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications. The second says broadband providers must be transparent about their network management practices. These principles would apply to the Internet however it is accessed, though how they apply may differ depending on the access platform or technology used. Of course, network operators will be permitted to implement reasonable network management practices to address issues such as spam, address copyright infringement, and otherwise ensure a safe and secure network for all users.

I also proposed that the FCC formally enshrine the four pre-existing agency policies that say network operators cannot prevent users from accessing the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.

This is just the first step in what will be an ongoing process. While these goals are clear, the best path to achieving them is not, and involves many hard questions about how best to maximize the innovation and investment necessary for a robust and thriving Internet. That is why we have created

This site is a place to join the discussion about the free and open Internet. is in Beta, and we'll be adding features to enable participation in the near future. I encourage you to check it out to offer your input, or simply to read or watch today's speech.

With the help of all stakeholders, the FCC can help secure a bright future for the Internet, and make sure that the garage, the basement, and the dorm room remain places where inventors can not only dream, but bring their ideas to life.

And no one should be neutral about that.

(Cross-posted on Huffington Post)

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones