Federal Communications Commission

Behind the Scenes Category

Broadening Development of Universal Service Policy for Broadband

June 14th, 2010 by Sharon Gillett

It’s an axiom that broadband breaks down barriers, an axiom that is true at the FCC as well.  Take Universal Service, the program meant to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable telecommunications services.  The program has long focused on telephone service, and its policies have been developed by the Wireline Competition Bureau.

But the National Broadband Plan recognized that Universal Service needs to be updated to provide all Americans with access to the communications technology of the 21st Century: broadband. The Plan also recognized that broadband may be delivered by a variety of technologies, including wireline, cable, wireless and satellite.  So it only makes sense to involve multiple bureaus – not just the Wireline Bureau – in the process of overhauling the program. 

That’s why Chairman Genachowski has launched the Universal Service Working Group, which will facilitate collaboration between the bureaus on the FCC’s broadband universal service agenda.  I will lead the group, which will include representatives from the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Managing Director, the Office of Strategic Planning, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the International Bureau (satellite) and my bureau, the Wireline Competition Bureau. 

I look forward to collaborating with this group to develop a truly comprehensive approach to Universal Service reform for the broadband age.  You can  a meeting with Universal Service Working Group staff regarding Universal Service issues related to the broadband action agenda using this online form.

A Fortunate Plan

March 15th, 2010 by Andrew Nesi - Special Assistant

Over the course of the last 7 months, we’ve ordered from our friends at Jenny’s Asian Fusion at least once or twice a week. Now, when I call, Jenny herself answers and, recognizing my phone number, yells “ANDREW!” and asks how things are going over at 445 12th St. SW. 

Our team’s first blog post discussed fortune cookies we had gotten at the first of these dinners.  So I hoped to have this post, just before the plan is delivered, to lead with a fortune, too. 

Unfortunately, last night’s fortune read “You love sports, horses and gambling but not to excess.”  This was accurate enough, particularly around bracket time, but isn’t particularly relevant to the task at hand.

My boss opened one, too, which told him, “You will have no problems in your home.” This seemed unlikely, given the number of hours he’s spent at work since Thanksgiving.

So I ate another.  “Good things are being said about you,” it said.

Finally, it works.

Today, we got a letter signed by major technology companies that commended my teammates “for the extraordinary public process implemented to develop this plan. Your team has worked countless hours, solicited unprecedented volumes of feedback from all stakeholders, and determined that data, not ideology, should guide their analysis. This process has demonstrated that there are still significant policy obstacles that could stifle innovation and investment in the future.”  It urged the FCC “and others in government to move quickly to implement its most essential recommendations.”

Another letter, last week, came from a series of telecom companies.  It discussed a number a number of prominent issues, and commended our efforts to “lay a spectrum foundation” and “revitalize the Universal Service program.”

Now, my mom always told me not to care what others think. And the plan itself should be judged by what it does for the country, not what people say about it.

But the letter is a testament to the extraordinary product we’ll release tomorrow. It’s a testament to the work my teammates have done in the past months. It’s a testament to the contributions we’ve gotten from Americans in every corner of the country, from D.C. to Alaska, Charleston to Austin.

Of course, we’re not so naïve so as to believe every person will agree with every recommendation in the plan. 

But the plan is a document of which we’re all proud.  We’re excited to share it with our now-distant family and friends, our counterparts in industry and elsewhere in government, and most importantly, with people around the country.

And, of course, Jenny gets a copy.

The International Experience

December 21st, 2009 by blogband admin

 By Jordan Usdan, Attorney-Advisor, Broadband Task Force

 The FCC is making a determined effort to understand the global broadband ecosystem and to extract relevant lessons from the international broadband experience.  These efforts have included holding two workshops in partnership with the FCC’s International Bureau: International Lessons and Global Broadband Connects America and the World; visiting or teleconferencing with regulators, academics and companies in over a dozen countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America; and posting for comment the Berkman Center’s study of broadband throughout the world.  Today the FCC is releasing a companion video with this blog post of short snippets of our trip to Europe.

The task force’s international team recognizes that dozens of countries have already pursued national broadband strategies, with some countries already on their third or fourth effort.  These national efforts vary widely, from nationwide publicly funded fiber build-outs to explicit policies against government deployment subsidies.  A few things do hold true across borders: governments and companies see Internet connectivity as an essential infrastructure with great promise; the world still looks to the United States for policy and technology leadership; and broadband enables a global ecosystem where technologies, services and content can be accessed at high speeds anytime and anywhere.



Chairman Genachowski Meets With Mayor Bloomberg

November 19th, 2009 by George Krebs

Chairman Genachowski sat down with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today as part of a concerted effort to listen and learn about communications challenges and opportunities from municipalities and states around the country.

The Chairman and Mayor Bloomberg discussed the value of broadband deployment and adoption, the importance of interoperable communications networks for the public safety community, and economic challenges in the media landscape.


“We appreciated the opportunity to talk about using broadband technology to advance innovation in government. We've tried to do it in New York, and were delighted to talk to Chairman Genachowski about his ambitious goals for the country,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Chairman Genachowski said, “Mayor Bloomberg has shown tremendous leadership in promoting innovative technology solutions for New York City’s government and its citizens. It was a pleasure to speak with him today, and I look forward to working with him to ensure that New Yorkers benefit from broadband’s full potential.”  

New Staff Bring Deep Experience to National Broadband Plan

November 10th, 2009 by Eric Garr - General Manager, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce Blogband readers to some of the great leaders we’ve hired for the broadband team in recent weeks.
Dr. David S. Isenberg has joined the broadband team as an Expert Advisor, and will be working on how physical infrastructure choices facilitate or impede policy options.  David is best known to the telecom policy world as the author of the 1997 essay, The Rise of the Stupid Network.  When Dale Hatfield was Chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology, he called The Rise of the Stupid Network “one of three works that changed my perception of the telecommunications industry."
David wrote The Rise of the Stupid Network during his 12 years at Bell Labs and AT&T Labs, where he was named "Distinguished Member of Technical Staff."  He holds a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in Biology.  For the past five years he's produced a Washington, D.C. technology policy conference called F2C: Freedom to Connect. He lives in Cos Cob, Connecticut and Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and he'll be helping us look into the future in terms of next generation architectures.
Dr. Mohit Kaushaul joined the FCC over a month ago to head up the newly formed digital healthcare team.  He was previously at a venture capital fund in Boston focusing on the healthcare sector, and back in the day was an ER physician.
At the FCC, he will direct a team that is focusing on the convergence of connectivity, technology and healthcare. He will be looking at the potential promise of broadband to both cut costs out of the health care system and improve outcomes for people. He is also focusing on analyzing the current connectivity of healthcare in the US, covering both wired and wireless infrastructure. In addition, his team is also evaluating the current and future healthcare applications that run on the connectivity infrastructure.

Mohit is excited about the vision of a world where much more data in healthcare is captured, which, when coupled with novel applications, could result in better health care outcomes at a fraction of the cost.
Also joining the task force is Dr. Douglas C. Sicker, who will be Expert Advisor to the task force on Research and Development issues. His team will develop a set of research recommendations to enable the United States to be a global leader in broadband networking in the years 2020 and beyond, as well as to further broadband R and D in the US over the next decade. 
Doug is Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program within the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is a highly respected tenured professor engaged in network systems research and writing. Previously, Doug was previously Director of Global Architecture at Level 3 Communications and served as Division Chief in the Network Technology Division of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Telecommunications at the University of Pittsburgh. We’re glad to have Doug back at the FCC.
Finally, Carol Mattey also returns to the FCC as Senior Policy Advisor to the team, focusing on Universal Service issues.  Until recently, Carol was a director in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Regulatory & Capital Markets consulting practice, providing a wide range of consulting and regulatory compliance services to clients in the technology, media and telecommunications industries. She came to Deloitte in 2005 after over 10 years at the FCC, where she was Deputy Bureau Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau from 2000-2005, and Chief of the Policy and Program Planning Division before that.  As Deputy Chief of the Wireline Bureau, Carol managed the ongoing administration of the Universal Service Fund, managed rulemaking proceedings to promote investment and innovation in broadband, and led initiatives to coordinate public policy with state regulators.  She holds a J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania, and B.A. from the University of Virginia.  We welcome Carol’s return; her experience will be invaluable to the team.

Slide Show

September 29th, 2009 by Andrew Nesi - Special Assistant

Andrew Nesi BBI trust that people will respect the content of our Commission meeting update today, but if nothing else, they'll have to respect our pretty slides.

My name is Andrew Nesi, and I'm a recent graduate of Notre Dame and Special Assistant on the National Broadband team. I think I have the best entry-level job in Washington. Sometimes, my work is administrative-I'm now the world's leading expert on ordering Chinese food for 50, including Atkins-dieters, vegetarians, and a lovable Brazilian named Carlos. Other times, my work is more substantive; helping others work through their analysis for the plan.

This weekend, though, my job had a singular focus: the 150+ slides we'll be using during today's Commission meeting run through my computer, and those of a few other junior team members. With the exception of about four hours worth of way-too-nervewracking Notre Dame football on Saturday night, I've spent most of my waking hours over the last week with this presentation. It's like a young child--it's both my pride and joy, and the bane of my existence.

Now, I haven't been to many FCC Commission Meetings--they don't do so well in that coveted males, age 18-34 Nielsen demographic--but I've heard repeatedly that we're about to attempt something very different than the Commission has seen in recent memory.

The meeting will be four hours long. We'll have more than 20 presenters, with presentations ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. We'll cover each component of our current work-updating the Commissioners on the work we've been doing for the past few months.

We'll discuss the data we've collected--and the data we've tried to collect, but haven't. We'll provide our best evaluation, albeit incomplete, of the current state broadband deployment and adoption. And we'll report our preliminary insights into the potential implications of universal broadband on a wide variety of National Purposes. You can see the whole agenda here.

Excited yet? We are. We hope it will be unlike anything the Commission has ever seen. And not just because the slides are pretty.

Eugene Huang: 9/29 FCC Open Commission Meeting

September 28th, 2009 by Eugene Huang - Government Operations Director

Eugene Huang discusses the upcoming FCC Open Commission Meeting and the report being presented by the National Broadband Task Force.


September 28th, 2009 by Blair Levin - Executive Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Blair LevinWhen our Staff Workshops started, some critics immediately concluded that the nature of the participants demonstrated that the FCC just listens to communications industry giants. If we're going to be criticized now (which we undoubtedly will be) the numbers suggest we may be in danger of the critique that we haven't heard from enough industry giants.  So far, academics have comprised over 13 percent of all participants at the workshops, followed by consumer and public interest groups (9.3%).  The largest industry group was equipment makers, comprising a little over 8% of the participants, followed by alternative wireless services at nearly 6 %.

This past week, we had our first field hearings, with more coming.  They will certainly tip the scales again - toward the public.

Our goal for these workshops and hearings was to gather new data and fresh insights so we could break out of Beltway policy stalemates.  I think we are doing that.  But we recognize that all the workshops, field hearings and other efforts to gather input will only pay off if we can put together a coherent, comprehensive program to address the concerns Congress discussed in the authorizing legislation.  That is not easy, as it requires doing more on limited resources; always difficult math.  So while the numbers from our workshops suggest the way we are approaching things, the numbers that we really have to stay focused on are those about broadband deployment and adoption.

Participant Type

Number Represented

Percentage Represented






Consumer & Public Interest
















Alt wireless




Government - Federal




Government - Local




Think Tanks
















Government - State




























Government - International








Total Represented



*Other - Consists of multiple, publishing, other, retail, legal & health care categories

Four Hours

September 17th, 2009 by Jennifer Flynn - Adoption Manager

You've seen the workshops and the flurry of fact-gathering for the National Broadband Plan. And that is continuing even as we start pulling information together for a September 29 Commission meeting on the Plan. During that meeting, we'll provide the Commission with a comprehensive look at what we have found to date in a mid-project progress report. Because we have a lot of facts and data to report from a number of discrete teams, we have blocked out four hours on the Commissioners' busy schedules for the meeting.

What do all those facts tell us about the status quo? What do the facts say about the distance between where we are and where we want to be? Who's been in our shoes before and what can we learn from their experiences? What hurdles do we face, and how can we remove or navigate around them? What existing advantages can we benefit from, and how can we maximize them? What can we create or suggest that is new to improve broadband deployment, adoption, and usage, in light of national purposes, as envisioned by the Recovery Act? We'll take a stab at these and other questions during the meeting.

Don't expect a full picture yet. This a short list of conceptual questions we're in the process of trying to answer across a broad range of subject matter relevant to drafting a National Broadband Plan. Four hours understandably sounds like four hours, but there's a lot of ground to cover.

More Avenues for Online Participation

September 14th, 2009 by Haley Van Dÿck - FCC New Media

Haley Van Dyck 2We are excited to introduce the latest round of new media roll outs that will help increase the participatory elements of the FCC's online operation and facilitate open discussion on the National Broadband Plan.

In addition to participating in the Broadband Workshops online and engaging in discussion on Task Force blog posts, you can now share your ideas on the National Broadband Plan through our new IdeaScale page.

broadbanddotgov header

IdeaScale is a crowdsourcing platform that allows users to publicly share and discuss ideas, as well as vote on their favorite ideas and topics presented.

This platform will provide a place for comprehensive and robust discussion of the sometimes controversial issues facing the task force, and will allow the fruitful conversations that have developed from the workshops to continue long after the panels have adjourned.

Our goal is to tap the distributed expertise of the American people through an open and earnest discussion on the best options for broadband in this country. We realize that government does not monopolize the best ideas, which is why we are making public engagement a priority.

I hope you take this opportunity to share your ideas and help advise the task force as it prepares to submit a plan to Congress by February 17th.

In another effort to bring 21st century communications to the agency and increase online citizen participation, you can now find the FCC on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as well. We have also added over 40 new RSS feeds from the FCC, ranging from Commissioner's Statements to announcements of Public Notices.

These are just a few updates from our New Media Team's first month at the FCC. There will be many more to come.

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