Federal Communications Commission

Field Events Category

A Look at the ADA 20th Anniversary Showcase

July 26th, 2010 by George Krebs

Twenty years ago today congress passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. A week ago the FCC celebrated this milestone with an exhibition and program showcasing the advances made in assistive technology. See our video below for a look at the event.


(Video and production credit: Jenny Hou)

Broadband and Small Business (Or, how my two-year-old’s love of cupcakes matters in the broadband world)

March 10th, 2010 by Lyle Ishida

This is a photo of my two-year-old daughter, Sydney, enjoying a cupcake from CakeLove in Tysons Corner, VA.  It was a snowy January day and, having a bad case of cabin fever, my wife and I took our daughter to the mall to run around and have a treat.  Because cupcakes are Sydney’s greatest culinary joy, we made sure that there was a cupcake place in Tysons Corner to help her enjoy her day.

That’s all well and good, but what exactly does a toddler’s love of cupcakes have to do with broadband? 

The answer was found last week at the Broadband and Small Business Forum held in Washington, DC.  The forum featured remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski; SBA Administrator Karen Mills; Todd Sharp, President of Engage, Inc, and Warren Brown, owner of CakeLove.

Brown talked extensively about his experience with broadband and how technology assists him in business.  Brown and CakeLove leverage broadband for:

  • Streamline ordering and administrative functions, freeing up store employees to better serve customers.
  • Marketing CakeLove, accepting orders on-line, building support for the baking community.
  • Promote on-line couponing and building sales, interacting with the social media universe, and “go where people are” (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc). 

CakeLove is just one example of how small businesses are using broadband and the new economy to grow and prosper.  As Chairman Genachowski said, “When small businesses use broadband, it’s a double win.  Affordable high speed broadband enables small business to increase revenue by reaching a larger market and reduce costs by cloud-based efficiency tools.  More profit, more jobs created.”

In a time when America is looking for drivers of economic development, broadband’s promise looms large as a tool to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, build awareness and revenue and take their enterprises to the next level.   Warren Brown noted, “We’re not just baking cakes, we’re making digital ideas.”
Ultimately, the success of the National Broadband Plan will not only mean that every small business and entrepreneur across America can have access to this vital business tool, it will also mean that every father,  in every corner of this country, will be faced with the same dilemma that I faced in January –  when your darling child looks up to you with big, pleading eyes and asks:  Daddy, can I have a cupcake??  Pleeeaasseee????

Connecting Marlee and Mickey

February 22nd, 2010 by Blair Levin - Executive Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Nobody who was at the FCC’s broadband field hearing at Gallaudet University in November will forget the passion of Marlee Matlin

Her dedicated efforts led to captioning laws being passed nearly a generation ago.

But now, she told us, her work was being “erased.”  Closed captions were being taken out of broadcast content being shown on the Internet.  Among her many examples:  her own performance on “Dancing with the Stars!”  Her distress was palpable.

We posted a video clip of Marlee’s statement on our blog, and her passion was seen over the blogosphere.  Someone forwarded the clip to Disney.  And Disney got to work.

As a result, Disney has announced that is expanding its captioning efforts. Instead of just captioning scripted dramas and comedies, it has committed to captioning all of its long form programs that it puts on its online player at, including reality and live shows like “Dancing With The Stars.” 

Way to go, Marlee. Way to go, Disney. And way to go to the person in the blogosphere who thought to connect the two.

MIT Field Hearing on Broadband’s Role in Green Energy and the Environment

December 4th, 2009 by Nick Sinai - Energy and Environment Director

This past Monday the FCC held a field hearing at MIT to discuss how broadband can facilitate the smart grid and the energy information economy. The house was packed, the discussion lively, and there was an impressive set of technology demonstrations afterwards. We were honored to have in attendance U.S. Congressman Ed Markey, Secretary Ian Bowles of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, FCC Chairman Genachowski, and FCC Commissioners Copps, Clyburn, and Baker.

The first panel provided context for understanding the role that the smart grid, and other smart technologies, can play in the U.S. achieving its energy goals. Dr Grochow of the MIT Energy Initiative shared how MIT has been able to achieve a significant reduction in its energy consumption through building energy audits and addressing the large energy requirements of IT through fairly simple measures like turning computers off rather than having their screen saver come on.

Thanks to all the members of the first panel: Peter Brandien of New England ISO, Commissioner Phil Guidice of Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources, Dr. Jerrold Grochow of the MIT Energy Initiative, and Bruce Walker of National Grid.

During the second panel the discussion shifted to provide some examples of how vendors are using energy information to increase the reliability and efficiency of our electricity grid. CEO Adrian Tuck of Tendril, which provides an energy management system for residential users, highlighted that a standard clothes dryer is preset to dry a load in 58 minutes. Simply by adding twenty minutes to the drying time, however, the dryer will consume 50% less energy. Informed customers could decide if they needed the convenience of faster cycle or might prefer to set a longer cycle in exchange for a lower energy bill.

The panel also discussed how innovative companies use broadband to 1) carry energy information at frequent, regular intervals from end user devices to their systems or devices, 2) present energy information on in-home displays or web portals, and 3) directly control loads to lower energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Following the panel, the commissioners and audience experienced first-hand some of the new products and services of the energy information economy. Control4, iControl, EnergyHub, Opto22, Tendril and Verisae showcased a suite of products aimed at helping residential and commercial customers better manage their energy use.

Thanks to all the members of the second panel: Rick Counihan of EnerNOC, Chuck McDermott of Rockport Capital, Adrian Tuck of Tendril, and Dan Johnson of Verisae. Thanks also to the vendors who participated in the showcase.

A number of common themes emerged across both panels, focusing on the key issues and barriers to an accelerated adoption of the smart grid.

First, a number of panelists stressed a need for universal broadband coverage to allow better access to energy information, especially for low-income families that lack access to the Internet.

Second, several panelists noted that a significant part of the value of the smart grid is derived from providing end users (whether building operators or individuals) more granular, real-time energy consumption data. We heard that many smart meters that have been deployed today have this customer-facing functionality built in, but are not “turned on” to provide data to customers.

Third, there was general agreement that cyber security was a critical issue for the smart grid. Dr. Grochow provided an analogy to the Internet. Security was not seriously considered during the Internet’s infancy, and we are still trying to patch the holes decades later. He argued that a secure smart grid needs to encrypt energy data at the source.

Fourth, Chuck McDermott, a general partner at Rockport Capital, highlighted the importance of developing open standards for the smart grid. Working closely with NIST and other standards bodies, the U.S. needs to achieve an interoperable, “plug-and-play” smart grid that avoids vendor lock-in.

Fifth, Bruce Walker of National Grid discussed the growing importance of the data traversing the Smart Grid network. A ubiquitous wireless data network that reliably provides low-latency data communications during emergencies will be required. To meet these need, and to encourage standardization of networking approaches, he requested that the FCC identify broadband spectrum suitable for critical infrastructure use.

Lastly, Dan Johnson of Verisae reminded us that in the end the adoption of smart grid technologies is heavily dependent upon their business case. End users will need to see a compelling ROI to take action.

I want to personally thank Congressman Markey, Secretary Bowles, the chairman, the commissioners, the panelists, and the technology vendors for providing such an engaging and informative discussion. A number of the issues raised lent further support to what we have seen through our public notice.

As we begin to formalize our recommendations for Congress, I encourage you to view the recorded webcast and add to our discussion by leaving your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Marlee's Remarks

November 16th, 2009 by Gray Brooks - FCC New Media

The FCC held a field hearing at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 2009 as part of its effort to gather information from experts and consumers for the development of a National Broadband Plan. Among those on the first panel was Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is the spokesperson for the National Association of the Deaf for accessible broadband services and Internet media.


Low Country Broadband

October 19th, 2009 by Elana Berkowitz - Director, Economic Opportunity - Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Elana Berkowitz BBCommissioners Clyburn and Copps - both have called South Carolina home though with a bit of a Low Country/Upstate rivalry - returned home for a series of public field hearings and events on broadband. On a rainy Monday night, in the rural town of Ravenel, SC (pop. 2,288) over 100 people came to the Community Hall for a Consumer Forum on Broadband. After brief remarks from a panel that included Commissioners Copps and Clyburn, the mayors of Ravenel, nearby Hollywood (pop 4,398) and Meggett (pop 1,363), local pastors and community leaders, the floor was open to the public. In an area with more than 18% of the population living below the poverty line (vs. 12.6% nationwide) the issue of what ‘affordable service' meant while residents were ‘struggling to put food on the table' was a recurring theme. Herman Allen, a local parade float maker, came to the mic to explain that he has been losing business because of the intermittent quality of his internet service which prevented him from promptly responding to email requests from customers. He then took a moment to apologize to some folks in the crowd and mayors on the dais for emails about pending floats that had yet to be responded to!

Tuesday morning was a standing room only field hearing at Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. The broad range of panelists included advocates for the elderly, community development corporation executives, academics and wireless entrepreneurs. Commissioner Copps told the crowd, "South Carolina has been on the wrong side of too many gaps too many times … Truth is, government was asleep at the switch for too many years, thinking that somehow broadband would just magically appear-even in those places where there was no business plan to attract any business to build it.  But the good news is that change has come."

The last event of our brief trip to South Carolina was a visit to the Medical University of South Carolina to learn more about their telemedicine programs including stroke care. South Carolina has one of the highest rates of stroke in the nation. Effective stroke treatment with drugs like TPA, a clot buster, require very fast decision making and drug administration, often within only a few hours of stroke onset.  Leveraging broadband to deal with this challenge, MUSC set up a hub-and-spoke style system that connects their stroke specialists to physicians' practices in small towns in the region. MUSC provides on-call physicians available through broadband enabled online video for full consultations. Prior to the launch of REACH (Remote Evaluation of Acute Ischemic Stroke) only 39% of South Carolinians lived within 60 minutes of primary stroke care, with the 6 local doctors offices now participating in the program, 56% of South Carolinians are within 60 minutes of frontline stroke care. MUSC is also piloting telehealth projects for psychiatric care and high risk pregnancies, which have seen significant cost savings. These broadband healthcare applications have proven quite popular, saving patients a full day of travel from nearby Beaufort or Florence and the cost of gas and childcare traditionally required to see a specialist. MUSC Ob/Gyn Dr. Chris Robinson explained, "Every patient was offered the choice between telemedicine and coming to Charleston. No one chose to come to Charleston."

Live FCC Field Hearing - Mobile Applications and Spectrum

October 8th, 2009 by Gray Brooks - FCC New Media

Gray BBAs part of its effort to gather information for the development of a National Broadband Plan, the FCC will hold a field hearing in San Diego Thursday focused on the transformational change that is resulting from the confluence of mobility and broadband. Tune in today at noon (EDT) to watch the event live at  You can also watch the event live and discuss it with others at Facebook.

The hearing will provide a West Coast perspective on spectrum availability, mobile applications, and the role that they play in the development of America's broadband  infrastructure. The Commission will be represented by Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker.

Field Hearing in Charleston, SC - Streaming Live Now

October 6th, 2009 by Gray Brooks - FCC New Media

Gray BBGo to to watch FCC Commissioners Copps and Clyburn in Charleston, SC.  You can also tune in and comment on Facebook, too.  The Field Hearing is on Broadband Adoption.

For the Q&A session, send in your questions via Twitter (#BBwkshp) to be asked in the room.

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