Federal Communications Commission

Archive for October 2009

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.

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.

Policy Solutions and Recommendations for Broadband Access for People with Disabilities

October 5th, 2009 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Elizabeth Lyle BBWe are now planning to have an expanded two-hour policy roundtable on policy solutions and recommendations at our October 20 workshop.  We expect 15-20 stakeholders from the disability community, industry, academia, and government to have a high-level discussion of policy recommendations that should be included in the National Broadband Plan.  Among other things, the roundtable will discuss whether additional legislative and regulatory action is needed to address accessibility and affordability challenges; what non-regulatory actions the FCC could or should take to promote accessibility to broadband by people with disabilities; and what actions other federal agencies, state, local and tribal governments, industry and industry consortia and other national and international industry/consumer/government consortia, the disability community, consumer groups, and other non-profits should take to promote broadband accessibility for people with disabilities.

Please give us your feedback on workshop planning issues (e.g., how to structure this roundtable, suggested questions and speakers, and helpful background reading material) and policy issues.

  • What additional legislative and regulatory action is needed to address accessibility and affordability challenges?
  • Should Congress require that the same kinds of accessibility regulations that have applied to telecommunications and media in the past be applied to broadband?  How successful have these regulations been?  Are there any differences between telecommunications/media accessibility and broadband accessibility which may affect whether regulation is effective and efficient?
  • To what extent should captioning requirements be applied to Internet content, including user-generated content?
  • What reforms should be made to the Interstate TRS Fund, particularly the funding of VRS?  Should the Commission consider funding VRS equipment through a separate mechanism?
  • Is there a mechanism in which the federal government could partner with state equipment distribution programs to ensure that there was a comprehensive broadband assistive technologies program in each state?  Could universal service funds be used to supplement state funds for broadband assistive technologies?  Under what circumstances should people with disabilities be eligible for universal service funds?
  • What additional funds, including research funds, should Congress appropriate to promote access to broadband for people with disabilities?
  • What actions are necessary to promote open standards and interoperability between broadband technologies and assistive technologies?
  • What is the best mechanism to ensure that meaningful data about broadband usage by people with disabilities is collected and analyzed?
  • What additional action should other agencies take relating to the implementation and enforcement of current laws? Should DOJ apply the provisions of the ADA to companies selling products on the Internet?  Should the Department of Education do more to apply the protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to services that are provided over the Internet?  Should the accessibility requirements that are applicable to the procurement of electronic and information technology by federal agencies be more broadly required?
  • What legal and regulatory actions are needed to implement an "overarching accessibility principle"?  How would an "Accessibility Impact Statement" be effectuated?
  • What non-regulatory actions should the FCC take to promote the accessibility and affordability of broadband for people with disabilities?  What kinds of outreach activities should the Commission engage in? Are there some broadband accessibility issues that may be better addressed in an interagency forum?  When might it be appropriate for the Commission to facilitate consumer-industry agreements or participate in consumer-industry standards forums?  Should the Commission make more information available to the public about the complaints it receives related to broadband accessibility?
  • What non-regulatory actions are needed by other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to promote accessibility to broadband by people with disabilities?  Please provide more information about roles industry and industry consortia and other national and international industry/consumer/government consortia and standards setting groups can play and how effective these efforts are. What role can the disability community, consumer groups, and other non-profits play to promote and ensure accessibility?
  • What other information, including information responsive to the more specific questions in the Public Notice do you think would help us better understand potential policy recommendations related to providing accessible and affordable broadband to people with disabilities?

Please 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.

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.

FCC Hearing - watch @

October 1st, 2009 by Gray Brooks - FCC New Media

Gray BBTune in now to watch the FCC Hearing on Capital Formation in the Broadband Sector. You can find the agenda and presentations here.

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