Federal Communications Commission

Public Notices Category

Digital Democracy Public Notice

November 19th, 2009 by Kevin Bennett

 Civic participation is critical to the health and legitimacy of our democracy, and our election process, public hearings and town hall meetings are among the most direct and regular opportunities for interaction between our government and its citizens. That is why we have issued a Public Notice (PN) specifically requesting your comments, data and analysis regarding how we can bring our democratic processes into the digital age.

  • Registering to vote: How can broadband help to facilitate voter registration? For example, in Texas, Travis County’s Tax Office has implemented an Internet-based application that allows citizens to register to vote in just minutes over the Internet. What can we learn from what states and local governments like Travis County, Texas have done in this area?
  • Processes leading up to Election Day: There are many steps that come before the election polls open and close where broadband and online services can increase civic participation. Where have these been implemented? What lessons can we learn?
  • Voting: Voting is the most fundamental of civic acts. As technology transforms all aspects of society, could it transform voting as well? Some states and pilot projects have taken steps to enable secure online voting for our brave men and women fighting overseas to ensure that they are not required to give up their right to vote as a condition to defending our country. For example, Arizona enables our brave military men and women overseas to vote online by uploading completed ballots to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website. What can we learn from Arizona as well as other state and local governments and other groups looking at this important issue?
  • Online Government Hearings and Online Town Hall Meetings: The proliferation of Internet-based tools and high speed technologies enable high quality video and new venues for civic participation. Can we apply these technologies to government hearings and online town hall meetings? What examples do we have of integrating new technologies to enable citizens to better engage their government?
We hope that you will take the time to share your opinions, examples, and data with us regarding these important topics. For more details, background and context, please see the Public Notice. Please respond with your ideas to this blog post, or file your comments using our Electronic Filing Comment System, using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file. Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as “Comments (or Reply Comments) – NBP Public Notice # 20.”

What is the Effect of Broadband on Education?

November 13th, 2009 by Anita Cheng

Last week, we released a Public Notice seeking comment on the effects of broadband access on education.  We want data, analysis, and comments about how schools are using broadband and digital learning technologies.  We also want to hear your suggestions for changes to the E-rate program to improve broadband deployment to schools and libraries.  Some sample questions:
1.  What is the current state of broadband connectivity, device availability, and adoption in U.S. schools and classrooms?
2.  What are the barriers to broadband adoption?
3.  What types of broadband initiatives have schools deployed?
4.  What types of online and digital content are schools using (e.g., online textbooks)?
5.  What has been the impact of digital literacy programs?
6.  What online learning systems (e.g., online text books, resource libraries, Distance Learning Programs) have been successfully implemented?
7.  How have communication tools like instant messaging and online video conferencing supported instructional program implementation?  How have concerns of content appropriateness been addressed with regard to minor students?
8.  How can the E-rate eligibility of applicants, equipment, and services be expanded to improve broadband deployment?  For example, should we allow use of broadband facilities at schools by the general community, rather than just by school faculty and students?
9.  How can we change E-rate disbursement or the discount methodology to maximize the deployment of broadband?  For example, should we target additional E-rate discounts to schools and libraries that have slow Internet speeds to enable such entities to catch up?
For more details, background and context, see the Public Notice.  You can respond directly to this blog or file comments through ECFS Express (or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file).  Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as “Comments (or Reply Comments)—NBP Public Notice # 15.”

A National Broadband Clearinghouse

October 14th, 2009 by Matt Warner

Matt Warner OIIt's not just the FCC that's interested in figuring out the best way to use and deploy broadband.   We've learned that lots of organizations: towns and cities, state governments, small businesses, non-profits, and others are also looking at the question. Several parties have suggested that an online clearinghouse of broadband data and best practices would make it much easier for everyone to get this information easily.  Indeed, the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services has already launched its own clearinghouse at that provides an inventory of broadband projects, programs and best practices.  We welcome this contribution.   To continue the discussion about the idea of a broadband clearinghouse, the Commission has released a Public Notice seeking comment about the what, who, and how: What should the clearinghouse contain? Who is the intended audience? Who should maintain or edit the clearinghouse? And how should the clearinghouse be designed to maximize its potential benefit? Please read the Public Notice and file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Note that your comments pertain to Public Notice #10.  Or, you can post comments on this blog.  Your comments will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan

The Second and Middle Mile Challenge

October 8th, 2009 by Rob Curtis - Deployment Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative.

Many of you may be familiar with the telecom term the "last mile"-the connection between your home (or wireless device) and your broadband service provider.  Somewhat less familiar, however, are the terms "second mile" and "middle mile," the connections between your broadband service provider and the Internet.  A Public Notice (PN) that we released today seeks comment and data on the pricing of second and middle mile connections to the Internet, and we hope that its release will inform us on the crucial-if not gating role-that these connections play.

As we noted in our mid-term presentation to the FCC last week, these connections-effectively high-speed "on-ramps" to the Internet-are critical links between communities and the broadband Internet.  Our workshops have indicated that in rural areas, calling these links a "second" and "middle mile" is somewhat of a misnomer, as these high capacity, multi-megagbit per second connections can be tens, if not hundreds of miles long-and can be very costly.  As a result, any plan to ensure broadband access for all Americans must examine closely whether these on-ramps are adequately available, reasonably priced, and efficiently provided in all areas of the country.

middle mile 2

The PN seeks comment in five general areas:

  • The Network Components of Broadband Availability, which focuses upon the needs and technology options for these second and middle mile links.
  • Availability and Pricing of these high-capacity circuits, based on technology and regulatory treatment.
  • Pricing of Internet Connectivity, which focuses upon the cost of access to the Internet backbone networks and whether that pricing is higher in rural areas.
  • Economics of Deployment, which asks about the extent and cost of self-provisioning and potential pro-active steps that government might be able to do to spur more deployment.
  • Nature of Competition and Availability of Alternatives, which asks questions on the nature and extent of competition for middle and second mile connections.

If you have examples and data that could contribute to the Commission's knowledge on this subject, please read the PN and file comments using either ECFS Express or, if you need to attach a file, our standard submission page.  Please note that your comments are responding to Public Notice #11.  You can also post comments on Blogband, and they will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan.

Public Safety and Homeland Security

October 7th, 2009 by Matt Warner

Matt Warner OIWe recently released a Public Notice (PN) seeking comment regarding Public Safety and Homeland Security matters.  The PN sought comment in four areas-Public Safety Mobile Wireless Broadband Networks, Next Generation 911 (NG911), Cybersecurity, and Alerting-as each of these poses unique challenges for keeping our Nation safe.  Some of the representative questions and comment requests include:

  • Public Safety Mobile Wireless Broadband Networks: We seek comment on the specific network features and anticipated architecture that will allow the broadband network to operate seamlessly with disaster recovery capabilities nationwide, and the kind of connectivity needed with legacy and other commercial networks
  • Next Generation 911 (NG911): Are there regulatory roadblocks that may be restricting more vigorous NG 911 deployment?  Which of these are within the Commission's jurisdiction and what actions should the Commission take in this regard?
  • Cyber security: What type of computer-based attacks against government or commercial computer systems or networks (i.e. cyber attacks) are occurring or are anticipated to occur, and what are other federal agencies, commercial, and other entities doing to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks?
  • Alerting: To what extent are broadband technologies currently being used as part of public emergency alert and warning systems?  Please provide specific descriptions of their use as part of these systems, including system capabilities and limitations and examples of jurisdictions where such systems are currently in use.

Help us keep America safe by sending us your comments.  Please read the PN and file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Please note that your comments are responding to Public Notice #9.

Is There Enough Spectrum?

October 6th, 2009 by Charles Mathias - Assistant Bureau Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Charles Mathias BBLast week, the FCC released a Public Notice (PN) asking for comment about whether there is sufficient spectrum available for wireless services.  Specifically, we asked for focused comment on the current spectrum allocations available in spectrum bands and whether that amount of spectrum is sufficient for our broadband needs.

The questions we ask in the PN arose as a result of the information we have already received in response to the National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry and the discussions at the workshops we have already held.  Multiple commenters have raised the issue that the United States will not have sufficient spectrum available to meet demands for wireless broadband in the near future.  Because of these comments, we're asking for your view on the fundamental question of whether current spectrum allocations are adequate to support near- and longer-term demands of wireless broadband.  The PN requests that commenters provide detailed, fact-based responses and to the extent possible provide quantitative data and analytical justification for their arguments.

The amount of spectrum available for use for broadband devices is crucial in determining an overall national broadband plan.  With the continued rise of the use of smartphones, and the needs for spectrum associated with their use, we have to look to the future availability of spectrum and where that spectrum is located.

The questions are as follows:

  1. What is the ability of current spectrum allocations to support next-generation build-outs and the anticipated surge in demand and throughput requirements?
  2. What spectrum bands are best positioned to support mobile wireless broadband?
  3. What spectrum bands are best positioned to support fixed wireless broadband?
  4. What are the key issues in moving spectrum allocations toward their highest and best use in the public interest?
  5. What is the ability of current spectrum allocations to support both the fixed and mobile wireless backhaul market?

Some people may ask "Why is the FCC asking for information on these questions?  Don't you already have the answers?"  What we are looking for are creative, as well as practical, opinions on spectrum availability.  New technologies can drive innovation; ideas for the availability of spectrum may be found or you may have creative ideas on to use the current spectrum allocation more efficiently.

Regardless, it is important for us to hear back from all different sides in the equation.  We want your input, no matter your background or your thoughts on the subject.

The easiest way to comment is to post on this blog.  Your comments will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan.

You can also file comments with the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System, using ECFS Express for short comments, or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file or to file in other dockets.  Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as "Comments (or Reply Comments)-NBP Public Notice # 6." See the PN for information about filing your comments in other relevant dockets.

Opportunities For Disadvantaged Businesses

October 6th, 2009 by Matt Warner

Matt Warner OISmall and disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) - small entities and women- and minority-owned businesses-employ millions of Americans and produce goods that often shape the identity of our nation's localities.  Broadband can do much for SDBs.  For instance, on Amazon, eBay, and their own respective web sites, SDBs can upload bandwidth-hungry images and video that can help them sell their products internationally.  And, using, businesses can find the right person for the job by quickly sifting through a large pool of resumes.  We know that finding buyers and new hires are made easier with the vast reach of the Internet via a broadband connection.  But there is still a lot more that we need to know.

Overall, small businesses are important to the economy, accounting for over 60% of all new jobs. And minority-owned firms are growing four times faster than all U.S. firms, accounting for over 50% of the 2 million businesses started in the U.S. Given the importance of SDBs and the impact that broadband can have on these businesses, we released a Public Notice (PN) asking questions about the impact of broadband on SDBs to that their needs are met by the National Broadband Plan.  What obstacles prevent SBDs from taking advantage of broadband technology? Lack of availability?  Cost?  Digital literacy or social and cultural considerations?  How can businesses improve their operations with broadband, especially those that don't traditionally rely on it, such as car repair, dry-cleaners, bodega owners, etc.  What data exists about the impact of broadband in job creation, productivy and more in SBDs.  If there are success stories and best practices regarding SDB broadband use, then such examples could help us share ideas to make all SDBs better while providing us with success stories that we could name and use.  If we are provided data on the economic impact of various types of broadband on SDBs, then we could better know where to dedicate resources for the fiscal health of the Nation.

Please read the PN and file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Please note that your comments are responding to Public Notice #9.

Public Notices

October 1st, 2009 by Randy Clarke - Legal Counsel, Wireline Competition Bureau

Over the past several months, the Commission has held a series of public workshops -- 27 so far -- as part of the process of developing a National Broadband Plan.  Dozens of panelists have addressed a multitude of issues related to broadband including availability, accessibility, deployment, adoption, health care, security, and technology - just to name a few.  While the workshops are essential to the Commission's data-gathering process, followup questions frequently arise.  To get answers and round out the discussion, the Commission has released targeted Public Notices and we expect more Public Notices to be put out in the coming weeks.

We're trying to make it easy for everyone interested in the issues to give us their views, so we created what we hope will be a handy chart, showing what's been released and all of the deadlines.  The chart also has links to the released Public Notices to provide an easy way to access them.   We'll continue to update it as new Public Notices come out; the updated chart will always be available on Blogband.  We hope you will participate in this important process - getting your input is essential to creating the best possible National Broadband Plan.


September 30th, 2009 by Matt Warner

Matt Warner OIAt the E-government Broadband Workshop, former Fort Wayne, Indiana Mayor Graham Richard showed how digital solutions can make city government more efficient and more accessible.  For instance, when the city was considering adding to its fleet of street sweepers, it first installed a wireless tracking device on existing sweepers to see if they were being used efficiently.  They weren't.  Using information from the wireless monitoring, the city was able to create routes that were much more efficient, saving the city the cost of purchasing another truck and the staff to run it.

A Public Notice (PN) we are releasing seeks more information about how government at all levels have used or could use broadband and digital solutions to provide more efficient and more transparent government.  As illustrated by the example from Fort Wayne, Indiana, we recognize that there are likely many useful ideas for more efficient and effective government.  We need to know about them generally (e.g., what are the primary needs that broadband and digital solutions can help address in federal, state, tribal and local government).  And we need to know about the specific programs that have been implemented by governments and where these initiatives have succeeded and failed.

The broadband and digital solutions implemented now are just the beginning.  This PN will hopefully help us make broadband and digital solutions more accessible to all levels of government.  After reading the Public Notice, you can file comments using the short comment form in our Electronic Comment Filing System.  Please title comments responsive to this Notice as "Comments - NBP Public Notice # 7.  Or you can use our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  You can also comment on this blog post.  Your posts will be included in the record.

Spectrum Public Notice

September 25th, 2009 by Phil Bellaria - Director, Scenario Planning, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Phil Bellaria BBQuick follow-up to my previous post:

This week, we also released a Public Notice asking for comments on spectrum for wireless broadband.  Essentially, we'd love data, analysis, and focused comments in the following areas for mobile wireless broadband, fixed wireless broadband, and wireless backhaul:

  • How does the capacity of existing spectrum allocations compare to current and future expected demand for wireless broadband & backhaul services?
  • How should we calculate the relative value of different uses of spectrum?  (e.g., wireless broadband, broadcast TV, mobile and fixed satellite services, military, federal government, other industrial uses)?  How should we calculate the relative value of unlicensed vs. licensed spectrum?
  • Which other spectrum bands might be appropriate to repurpose for wireless broadband?
  • What mechanisms could facilitate the transition from incumbents to new users in these bands?
  • What other spectrum management practices should we consider to ensure spectrum is being used most productively?

The basic "who, what, where, when, why, how" questions about spectrum.  For more details, background and context, see the Public Notice.  You can respond directly to this blog or file comments through ECFS Express (or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file). Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as "Comments (or Reply Comments)-NBP Public Notice # 6."



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