Federal Communications Commission

Public Notices Category

Broadband Deployment and Adoption on Tribal Lands

September 24th, 2009 by Shana Barehand - and Steve Klitzman

We know that Tribal lands are among the most unserved/underserved areas of the country with respect to broadband deployment and adoption.  This is why we issued a Public Notice seeking comment on specific barriers to broadband deployment and adoption in Indian Country or Tribal lands and how they can be reduced or eliminated.  Also, we posted this blog to facilitate the exchange of information on these important issues, and encourage all parties - Tribal organizations and members as well as broadband providers, academics, state and local government authorities and the public - to submit comments on the record and postings on this blog.

We are particularly interested in:

  • Any quantitative data, studies, or analyses on the current extent of broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands;
  • Specific suggestions for solutions to the problems with broadband deployment, adoption, and use on Tribal lands;
  • Promoting digital literacy and education on Tribal lands;
  • Whether subsidizing the costs of computers, related equipment, and broadband service for low income consumers would increase broadband accessibility, adoption, and use on Tribal lands, and by how much;
  • The percent of Tribal community centers, schools and households that are passed by: a) fixed telephony; b) mobile telephony; c) cable services, and d) satellite services;
  • Any other information that would help us better understand accessibility, affordability, and usage problems regarding broadband on Tribal lands.
Please read the Public Notice and file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Please note that your comments should reference NBP Public Notice #5 (DA 09-2093).


September 23rd, 2009 by Phil Bellaria - Director, Scenario Planning, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Phil Bellaria BBLast Thursday, September 17, we held a workshop on Spectrum.  Though I may be slightly biased (and very geeky), I thought it was the coolest workshop to date.  Where else can you have well-informed people disagree so starkly on such key issues as the need for more licensed spectrum (some say we need it now, others that we still have a lot of idle capacity) and sources of that spectrum (some say the government, others point to specific commercial users)?   At what other workshop have panelists thrown out such cool terms as "White-Fi" and "self-optimizing networks," then actually been able to explain their application to the real world?

Though it's nearly impossible to capture the essence of such a rich discussion, I drew 3 conclusions from the workshop.

1.      The usage of wireless broadband services is growing at a faster rate than technological advances and other innovations to make more efficient use of spectrum.  At some point, therefore, we will face a spectrum supply-demand imbalance.

2.      There are numerous approaches to address the supply-demand imbalance, all of which are important and none of which can alone solve the problem:

  • A complete, dynamic database of current occupants, licensed and unlicensed, by time, geography, and frequency, would help bring transparency to the marketplace.
  • Building on this database, a well-functioning secondary market would facilitate movement of spectrum licenses to their most productive uses.
  • Investment in and commercialization of innovative new technologies will continue to deliver more efficient and economic usage of existing spectrum allocations.
  • We can only squeeze so much juice out of the orange, so to speak.  We will need to find additional sources of spectrum to allocate to wireless broadband services to meet growing demand.

3.      Finally, wireless broadband service is critical to solving our broadband deployment and adoption challenges - we need to start working on solving the spectrum supply-demand imbalance today, even if it won't reach "crisis" stage until some point in the future.  Coleman Bazelon, one of the panelists, summarized the importance best when he said that no other current commercial usage of spectrum delivers as much economic value as wireless broadband service (I paraphrase, of course).

Another point came across clearly during the workshop: we can learn a lot about using spectrum more efficiently from the explosion of devices and applications in unlicensed spectrum, and from non-commercial use of cognitive radios and ad hoc networking driven by DARPA for military applications.

Like any animated discussion, though, the workshop also raised more questions in my mind:

  • How much additional spectrum will we need for wireless broadband service to close the supply-demand gap?
  • By when will we need this additional spectrum?
  • From whom do we get this additional spectrum?  How?
  • What policies will enable continued innovation in spectrum efficiency and migration towards more productive uses of spectrum?  What policies would hurt?

I'm very interested to read what others think about the spectrum challenges and opportunities we face today.  I encourage you to engage in this process by continuing the discussion thread on the blog or by filing comments with ECFS Express (or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file).  You can also file comments responding to the Wireless Innovation NOI using the same docket number, 09-51.  Thanks in advance for your input!

Public Notice Seeks Comment on Ensuring Accessible and Affordable Broadband for People with Disabilities

September 18th, 2009 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Elizabeth Lyle BBToday we released a Public Notice, or PN, asking for recommendations to ensure that broadband technologies are accessible and affordable to people with disabilities.  The large number of questions in the PN makes it clear that we have a lot to do if we are going to formulate meaningful policy.  There are numerous, complex issues to discuss and distill in the coming months, and it is critical that we work collaboratively with all stakeholders to get this right.  Here is how you can help:

  • Help us plan the structure and substance of our upcoming workshop on Oct. 20. We invite suggestions on panel topics, exhibits, speakers and additional questions.  We also welcome your ideas for background material that may be helpful for us and all those participating in the workshop.  Our goal is to use the workshop time as effectively as possible to help us formulate policy recommendations.  You can give us your input by filing comments in the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) by using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Please note in your comments that they are responding to NBP Public Notice #4 or in response to a blog that we will be posting for each panel in Blogband (see more details below).  The sooner you file your suggestions, the better.
  • Respond to questions in the PN by October 6. Before we can make policy recommendations, we have to understand better the accessibility and affordability barriers faced by people with disabilities; the technological barriers and solutions; the potential of broadband to advance certain national purposes (related, for example, to health care, education, public safety, job creation/worker training, and civic participation/community development) for people with disabilities; resources existing at the federal, state, local, and tribal level that we can leverage to make broadband accessible and affordable to people with disabilities; and the effectiveness of regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms in promoting accessibility and affordability for people with disabilities.  To the extent that commenters are able to help us gather information in advance of the workshop, we can both build on this information and narrow the focus of the workshop accordingly.  We would also appreciate your help in identifying commenters who may be expert at certain issues (e.g., on barriers faced by those who have intellectual disabilities) who have not participated in this proceeding (or perhaps any other FCC proceeding) to date.  File comments as described above, and once again, please mark your submission as responsive to NBP Public Notice #4.
  • Participate in the new disability access policy blog.  As mentioned above, we are establishing a "disabilities access" category on Blogband where we will post five different blog posts to track the tentative panels that we propose for our workshop.  That is, we will have posts (and ongoing threads) on (1) Accessibility and Affordability Barriers Faced by People with Disabilities; (2) Technological Barriers and Solutions; (3) Furthering National Purposes and People with Disabilities; (4) Federal, State, and Local Resources to Make Broadband Accessible and Affordable to People with Disabilities; and (5) Policy Solutions and Recommendations.  The posts will cover the same kinds of questions that are set forth in the PN.  We know that many of the issues that we raise would benefit from having an ongoing, iterative process in which we could collaborate on these issues before and after the workshop.  We also will post new blog posts when we want to focus on a particular topic in more detail.  And, as noted above, we also invite comments relating to workshop planning in response to these posts.  Finally, if you want to initiate an idea not covered in the blog posts, we encourage you to do so by going to and clicking on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Input Sought on Sept. 30 Cyber Security Workshop

September 8th, 2009 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Jennifer Manner BBAs part of the Broadband Plan NOI, we specifically sought comments on cyber security.  In an effort to gather more data on this issue, we will hold a Cyber Security Workshop on September 30th.  While the Workshop will be here in D.C., it will of course be accessible on the web.  I am really excited to have folks join us as we and the panelists discuss the prevention and detection of cyber attacks and the restoration process in the event of an attack.  As we are still planning the workshop, I would be very interested in hearing from you what issues you think we should cover.  I look forward to reading your comments here.

Seeking Public Comment on the Smart Grid

September 8th, 2009 by Nick Sinai - Energy and Environment Director

The word "Smart" is getting used a lot today. Smart Phones, Smart Homes, Smart Building, Smart Cars, and - especially - Smart Grid. Behind many of these "smart" innovations is the addition of advanced communications capabilities to devices, equipment and infrastructure that previously couldn't communicate. That's why the Energy and Environment team on the Omnibus Broadband Initiative is asking for public comment on the Smart Grid.


The Energy and Environment team is charged with developing a plan to advance national goals to promote energy independence, increase efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The Smart Grid has the potential to help achieve these goals and more.


Just as broadband Internet enabled new and unexpected ways to communicate, work, and use data, adding advanced communications infrastructure to the electricity grid can change the way America generates, delivers, and consumes electricity.


Communications is just one part of the movement towards a smarter grid, but it's a key enabler of many Smart Grid applications. We have already observed a wide variety of communications networks and technologies being employed for many different Smart Grid applications. In releasing a Public Notice seeking public comment on Smart Grid communications, we hope to learn more about the communications networks being used in the Smart Grid:

  • What networks are suitable for which types of applications?
  • How available are these networks?
  • What could be done to make networks more suitable or more available?
  • How can the data generated by the grid be secured? How can it be used to drive efficiency and innovation?

We're looking for data, analysis and perspectives from participants across the entire Smart Grid ecosystem. We want to know what works and what doesn't, and we want the data to back it up. The data we gather through this process will be an important part of the analysis our team is undertaking. The deadline for responses is October 2, but we're hopeful that many will begin submitting facts and findings to the record right away. We'll be presenting some preliminary findings at the Commission meeting on September 29.


This is an exciting time to be working on the Smart Grid. Our team is intently focused on identifying the best ways to support and accelerate these developments. These ideas will be an important part of the National Broadband Plan.


**Please read the Public Noticeand 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 #2.

Virtually There? The Telework Public Notice

September 4th, 2009 by Matt Warner

Telework isn't just about providing a benefit to employees.  Rather, telework seems to benefit workers, employers, and society as a whole.  Case studies from the Government Accountability Office and the Patent and Trademark Office suggest that telework provides needed flexibility for an organization and its staff in emergencies while being greener for the environment.  Despite these and other potential advantages of telework and broadband's ever-expanding ability to make work geographically irrelevant, not being physically "there" may not yet be societally "there."

A Public Notice (PN) we are releasing today explores the potentially transformative aspect of broadband and telework for the purposes of the National Broadband Plan.  Before we carve out national policy, however, we need more information:  What empirical evidence exists to suggest that going from dial-up to broadband fundamentally changes the nature of telework?  What are the advantages of telework based on the data?  What are the barriers impeding telework programs from more ubiquitous acceptance and success?  Going forward, how could broadband change telework?  Answers to these questions and others raised in the PN are important to guide our focus and plan for telework in the overarching broadband plan.  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 #3.

Public Asked to Respond to Staff Workshops

September 1st, 2009 by Krista Witanowski - Workshop Coordinator

Krista W - 2The staff workshops exploring issues that are key in the development of a National Broadband Plan have provided a lot of information -- and pointed to the need for a lot more information.  Now, the public is being asked to respond to the workshops by filing comments on the record with the FCC.  A Public Notice issued today tells how to do that - but the easiest way is to use the FCC's form to file brief comments, noting the name of the workshop with your comments.  You can file more extensive comments by entering docket number 09-51 the first field of this form and including your comments in an attachment. You should also state the name of the workshop in your comments - and fill in other required fields in the form as well.  More extensive instructions are in the Public Notice.

There are deadlines. Responses to workshops held from August 6 to August 20 should be filed by September 15.  Reponses to workshops held from Aug. 25-Sept. 15 should be filed by Oct. 2.  And responses for workshops being held from Sept. 16 to Oct. 20 should be filed by Oct. 30.

Filing comments is a key way to be heard at the FCC.  So take some time now to submit your thoughts about the workshops, for the record.

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