Broadband.gov
Federal Communications Commission



National Broadband Plan Category

Business Broadband Survey Data Note

November 29th, 2010 by Steven Rosenberg

Broadband is transforming the way businesses – large and small – function, communicate and grow. Always-on broadband connections enable e-commerce, facilitate fast business- to-business transactions, allow transfers of large amounts of data around the world, and make it possible to connect offices across the globe.

To understand more about the business broadband market, we conducted a survey of 3,506 American managers, owners or IT directors at businesses with 5 or more employees.  The survey focused on the different kinds of broadband connections businesses subscribe to, the ways businesses use broadband, attitudes toward broadband-enabled applications, and potential barriers to adopting the technology. 

The survey finds that nearly all businesses report having a broadband Internet connection in at least one location (95%).  Businesses most commonly use their broadband connections to buy products and supplies online, for research and online advertising. The results also indicate that most businesses (85%) are not planning to upgrade to faster speeds in the next year, with cost listed as a leading reason not to upgrade. For those businesses that are planning to upgrade, running new applications and improving communication with customers were the most cited reasons for doing so.

The FCC continues to focus on the role of broadband in stimulating private investment, creating jobs, and supporting our global competitiveness. The results of the survey released today will help the Commission ensure that it has the right policies in place to help achieve those goals.

Read the survey results.

9-1-1's Next Frontier

November 23rd, 2010 by George Krebs

This morning Chairman Genachowski, Public Safety Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett and a collection of FCC staff visited a state-of-the-art response facility at the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center in Arlington, Virginia. Following the vision laid out in the National Broadband Plan, the event marks the announcement of steps to revolutionize America’s 9-1-1 system by harnessing the potential of text, photo, and video in emergencies.



Our communications needs are increasingly reliant on mobile devices. In fact, 70% of 9-1-1 calls originate from mobile phones and users rely regularly on texts and multimedia messages. While a subsequent evolution of our 9-1-1 system seems a natural -- and obvious -- step for digitally aware citizen, our current 9-1-1 system doesn’t utilize the superb, possibly life-saving potential within our existing mobile devices. With videos, pictures, texts -- and other untold mobile innovations surely on the horrizon -- next-generation 9-1-1 will position public safety officials a step ahead with critical real-time, on-the-ground information.

After a tour of the high-tech operations room, Chairman Genachowski and Admiral Barnett spoke to the promise of next-generation 9-1-1. Here's an excerpt from Chairman Genachowski's speech.



"Even though mobile phones are the device of choice for most 9-1-1 callers, and we primarily use our phones to text, right now, you can’t text 9-1-1. Let me reiterate that point. If you find yourself in an emergency situation and want to send a text for help, you can pretty much text anyone EXCEPT a 9-1-1 call center.

"...It’s time to bring 9-1-1 into the digital age."

Read the rest of the Chairmans’s speech, view more photos and see the benefits of Next Generation 9-1-1 after the jump.

(This is cross-posted on The FCC Official Blog.)

The Gold Rush in Kansas

November 22nd, 2010 by Pam Gregory

They’re going for the gold in Kansas, with plans to make broadband available to everyone in the Sunflower State.

I recently was fortunate enough to witness this gold rush first-hand by attending the Kansas Broadband Summit, where current state of broadband deployment was discussed, as well as the plans for future deployment of broadband services. Stanley Adams, the broadband planning manager for the state’s Department of Commerce reported that Kansas received over $250 million in broadband deployment grants and loans from the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA), which is part of the Department of Commerce and the Rural Utility Service (RUS), which is part of the Department of Agriculture. That’s a lot of amount of money for a smaller state, but Kansas has a significant rural population, and its leaders are aiming to make broadband available to all.

I learned a lot from the Kansan stakeholders who attended the conference. Their plan is comprehensive, covering everything from detailed mapping, to provider validation, and even adoption plans. And like any time you get a room of stakeholders engaged, new ideas were sparked on how to improve the plan. As an FCC staff person, it was a thrill for me to see and feel the excitement of a state actually implementing its broadband plan. And as with the beginnings of California’s gold rush in 1879, the new broadband gold rush in Kansas promises great benefits to the state citizenry . ,“From a business standpoint, it [broadband] means increased opportunities for entrepreneurship and new small-business development,” Kansas Lt. Governor Findley said. “How many entrepreneurs out there have the next big-idea, but have no way to share it?” Kansans know that broadband is just as valuable as gold, and know the wealth it can bring.

Stanley Adams and Duncan Friend, both Kansas employees leading their state’s broadband initiative, invited me to speak on a panel about disability access. They said that they wanted Kansas’ broadband to be accessible and usable to all of its citizens, especially Kansans with disabilities. The audience’s questions on accessible deployment were universally thoughtful and insightful—they all saw the importance of an accessible broadband plan and knew such a plan would collaterally help other populations, such as seniors, non-native English speakers, educational and medical institutions, and the business community. The panel was so popular that we gave a repeat presentation later that same day.

To implement its plan, Kansas has partnered with Connected Nation, a 501(c)(3) organization. Tom Feree, the chief operations officer of Connected Nation said, “We exist because we believe that states, communities, families and individuals can realize great economic and social advantages when we accelerate broadband availability in unserved areas and increase broadband use in all areas, rural and urban, alike.” His statement again reminded me of the promise of 1849 gold rush, which lead to the building of our nation’s railway system, which in some ways is being replaced by fiber optics today.

Kansas has prioritized Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) such as K-12 schools, libraries, healthcare centers, public safety entities, colleges and universities and other government and non-governmental organizations. I can’t help but wonder how many of those “other” organizations are entities that serve people with disabilities. The chief technology officer of the Kansas School for the Deaf, Joe Oborny, attended knowing how much is at stake in Kansas’ broadband plan. The ability for students to use video for calls, video conferences with excellent teachers of the deaf, and to connect with the state and nation are critical to a successful educational institution.

As I look back on the conference, I am confident that the leadership will follow through with its commitment for an accessible broadband plan. The stakes are too high not to. Soon after my return to Washington, Kansas contacted me asking how to develop more partnerships with the disability community, which demonstrates to me that they mean what they say in Kansas: All Kansans will be able to access broadband. For that, I give them a gold medal.

SBA: National Broadband Plan is Key to Small Business Growth and Jobs

November 18th, 2010 by Sharon Gillett

A report to Congress released by the Small Business Administration this week tells us something that makes sense: broadband makes small businesses more productive, which leads to more jobs and greater economic growth. One study cited by the report calculates growth in broadband penetration over a two-year period created about 300,000 jobs.

The report also raises some problems we are familiar with: broadband is less available to rural businesses, and when it is available, it can cost more.  Small businesses everywhere want lower prices and increased value.

Happily, the report proposes a solution that we are not only familiar with but that we wrote: the National Broadband Plan.  To quote, the report recommends that policymakers “Stay the course on national broadband planning and implementation of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.”

We’re not just staying the course. We’re moving full speed ahead. Here are a few examples of how we have advanced the small business broadband agenda detailed in our National Broadband Plan:

  • Launching with SBA a public-private partnership to help accelerate small business growth through the use of broadband technologies.
  • Examining the market for business broadband services to determine the status of competition and whether our policies in this area can be improved.
  • Beginning reform of the Universal Service Fund to help provide broadband in areas where it’s lacking.
  • Revising our rules governing access to infrastructure like utility poles to remove barriers to deploying broadband networks.
  • Clearing more spectrum to unleash wireless broadband.
  • Launching our data innovation initiative that will enable consumers and businesses alike to get more information about the broadband options available in their communities.

Broadband leads to small business growth and jobs, and as the SBA report notes, the National Broadband Plan is the roadmap for reaching our broadband goals.

Our Innovation Infrastructure: Opportunities and Challenges

November 15th, 2010 by George Krebs

Earlier today, Chairman Genachowski spoke at the annaul meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Atlanta. In concert with the conference's "Keeping the Focus" theme, the Chairman spoke to the primary focus of the FCC: the economy and jobs. We're serving this mission through harnessing the opportunities of communications technology and putting an emphasis on innovation.

Read Chairman Genachowski's full speech.

(This is cross-posted on The Official FCC Blog.)

What the National Broadband Plan Does for National Priorities

November 10th, 2010 by Thomas Brown

Yesterday, Senior Advisor to the Chairman on Broadband Phoebe Yang and members of the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative presented to the Federal Communications Bar Association on recent progress on some of the “national purposes” recommendations in the Plan. These “national purposes” include issues like health, education and energy.

You can check out their presentation here.

Generating Civic Capital: FCC’s Open Developer Day

November 5th, 2010 by Thomas Brown

The National Broadband Plan called on government to “leverage broadband to experiment with new ideas and technologies to extend opportunities for engagement.” In that spirit, we’re excited to highlight the FCC’s Open Developer Day, coming up this Monday, November 8.

All of us at the FCC, and especially our Chief Data Officer, Greg Elin, have been focused on the power and possibilities of making more data available to citizens, tinkerers and developers; Open Developer Day will be yet another demonstration of that focus. As Greg highlighted in a blog post last week, the event will bring together citizen developers and engineers from Yahoo! to develop a clearinghouse Web application intended to make it as easy as possible for people with disabilities, families, and support professionals to find information about accessible technologies. It will also support the Plan’s recommendation that the FCC “create an ongoing web presence to allow participants to share information about public and private accessibility efforts and discuss accessibility barriers and inaccessible products.”

(To RSVP for Open Developer Day, click here.)

We hope that Open Developer Day will inspire other federal agencies to hold their own Open Developer Days and apply similarly innovative approaches to tackling public challenges. Joshua Tauberer, who founded the congressional transparency website Govtrack.us in his spare time (!), has said that “open data is civic capital.” Platforms for effectively using open data are civic capital too, and we look forward to seeing what our participants on Monday generate.

More Thoughts on Unleashing our Invisible Infrastructure

October 28th, 2010 by Thomas Brown

As Chairman Genachowski noted in an earlier post, "the future is being built on our invisible infrastructure" - the electromagnetic spectrum that has enabled innovations like the smartphone and Wi-Fi. Recently, senior leadership at the FCC provided their thoughts on the National Broadband Plan's efforts to unleash this invisible infrastructure to audiences at a Law Seminars International event in Washington, DC and 4G World in Chicago, Illinois. Their remarks, after the jump.

Read their remarks here.

Crunching the Numbers Behind the Spectrum Crunch

October 21st, 2010 by Rob Alderfer

By Robert Alderfer and Tom Peters

The explosive growth of mobile communication is fueling our economy, creating jobs and spurring innovation at lighting fast speeds. But, it is also taxing our nation’s spectrum.

Spectrum is the finite national resource that makes all forms of wireless communication possible. Data usage over wireless networks is rapidly increasing as more consumers surf the web, check email, and watch video on the go, and more mobile device such as smart phones and tablets enter the market. This new demand for mobile spectrum is rapidly pushing us towards the point of running out of open spectrum.

The National Broadband Plan put numbers on the looming spectrum crunch, and made it clear that the time to act is now. The plan recommended that 500 megahertz of new spectrum be made available for broadband, including 300 megahertz in the next five years. The President has issued a call to action for wireless broadband. Clearly, new spectrum for wireless broadband is important to ensuring that we lead the world in mobile.

Today, the FCC is releasing a white paper entitled, “Mobile Broadband: The Benefits of Additional Spectrum.” This technical and economic forecast of mobile broadband market trends sets forth future spectrum needs in a concrete, data-driven fashion.

Today’s forecast demonstrates that the amount of mobile data demanded by American consumers is likely to exceed capacity of our wireless networks in the near-term, and that meeting this demand by making additional spectrum available is likely to create significant value for the economy. In addition, new mobile broadband spectrum will support innovation in other important areas – such as breakthrough tools to improve education through mobile online learning, enhancing health care through potentially life-saving remote diagnostics, and promoting energy efficiency by supporting the smart grid.

Some of the key findings in the white paper are:

  • Within the next five years, the spectrum deficit is likely to approach 300 megahertz.
  • This spectrum crunch will be driven by significant growth of mobile broadband traffic, on the order of 35 times recent levels.
  • Mobile broadband growth is likely to outpace the ability of technology and network improvements to keep up by an estimated factor of three.
  • Meeting this need may create $120 billion in spectrum value, with hundreds of billions more in total value to the economy as one considers broader macroeconomic effects.

The National Broadband Plan noted that making new spectrum available has historically taken between 6 and 13 years. Today’s forecast of the looming spectrum crunch makes clear the need for timely action to realize the wireless economy of the future.

So, take a look at the paper, and give us your feedback. What’s the best way for the nation to meet the growing need for mobile broadband spectrum?

(Cross-posted at Reboot Blog)

Broadband Tools for Advanced Surfers

October 19th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

The demand for the beta version of the FCC fixed and mobile broadband tests have exceeded expectations with over 1.5 million tests taken since March.  While we ready the next versions, we wanted to inform users of other network testing tools available on the Internet.


These tools, which aren’t managed or approved by the FCC, allow users to do such things as test Internet Protocol Version 6 connectivity, determine whether traffic from certain applications is being throttled, and run an advanced overall network health diagnostic test.  And users can do all of this while contributing valuable and anonymous data to the academic research community.  Here are some advanced tools you might find useful and interesting:


IPv6 tests (accessible here and here)
These Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) tests allow you to determine whether your network connection is IPv6 capable.  Internet Protocol (IP) is the packet-switching and routing system for the Internet.  The current IP version (IPv4) was created in 1981 and is limited to around 4 billion unique addresses, most of which have already been assigned.  IPv6 allows for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion unique IP addresses, which should last for a good while.  IPv6 also allows for better security and support for advanced applications.  The White House has released a memo to government agencies about the deployment and use of IPv6, which you can read here; for more information about IPv6 and what you need to know, see IPv6 Act Now.


Glasnost application throttling tool
The Glasnost test is managed by the Max Planck Institute and enables users to check whether traffic from an application is being rate-limited (i.e., throttled) or blocked.  Glasnost works by testing and comparing users’ connection speed for different application flows to determine if a network provider is limiting the traffic for a particular type of traffic.  The tests can also detect whether application flows are shaped based on their port numbers or their packets’ payload.  For those short on patience, be aware that this advanced tool takes approximately 8 minutes to test a connection.


Netalyzr
Netalyzr is a National Science Foundation funded project that tests a wide range of network characteristics, such as TCP and UDP connectivity, buffer measurements, and DNS policy.  Netalyzr is designed for users with sophisticated knowledge of network technology and runs an advanced test on your Internet connection with an attendant detailed report.  The New Scientist magazine has published a guide to help users understand their Netalyzr results.


We encourage users of the FCC Consumer Broadband Tests to also consider these advanced tools.  As a reminder, the FCC does not manage or control any of these tools.


What do you think of the advanced tools blogged about above?  What other tools do you find useful around the Internet?  We’re always interested in hearing from readers so let us know what you think.



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