Federal Communications Commission

Public Notices Category

Establishing Interoperability

January 25th, 2011 by Jamie Barnett - Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

The quest for true interoperability dominates our daily work within the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.  Interoperability is elusive and exacting.  It must be pursued as a full-time job with full knowledge of the factors that have defeated interoperability in the past.  As it has before, today the Commission took significant and positive steps to ensure the interoperability for the future of public safety communications.

The National Broadband Plan, submitted to Congress in March, 2010, set forth a comprehensive framework for creating a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. As part of this framework, the Plan recommended the creation of an Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) to ensure nationwide interoperability. In April the Commission established ERIC within the Public and Homeland Security Bureau, where it is already playing an invaluable role assisting the Bureau as it develops rules and requirements for public safety broadband networks. In December, the Bureau adopted ERIC’s recommendations for an initial set of technical requirements to govern the early network deployments of public safety broadband waiver recipients. In developing its recommendations, ERIC has worked closely with the Commission’s federal partners and with the public safety community—including the members of the ERIC Technical Advisory Committee. We thank these individuals and agencies for their tireless efforts.  

With today’s item, the Commission delivers further on the Plan’s vision by adopting an order and further notice of proposed rulemaking on public safety broadband network interoperability. As the Plan recognizes, broadband technologies “will give first responders new tools to save American lives.” However, the transformative potential of broadband will remain unfulfilled if first responders are unable to communicate effectively.  The technical framework advanced in this item will create a baseline for deployment to ensure that public safety personnel are able to communicate when they converge on the scene of an emergency, wherever it may strike. 

The order designates LTE as a common technology platform for the nationwide network. LTE, a 4G broadband communications standard that several commercial wireless carriers are already deploying, has emerged as the technology of choice for public safety broadband communications. Although the Commission does not usually designate technologies, the adoption of LTE for public safety broadband networks is a critical baseline in ensuring that these networks are truly interoperable.  The record on this point was overwhelming.  The public safety community was united in its comments, and it just makes good sense.

The further notice seeks comment on a broad array of issues relevant to achieving public safety broadband network interoperability. It seeks comment first on an architectural vision for the network and on whether high-level principles should be established to guide the network’s development. Another major focus of the further notice is on how to implement a public safety-to-public safety roaming regime. The ability of public safety personnel to roam onto public safety networks outside their jurisdiction is an essential component of interoperability; accordingly, the further notice seeks comment on a host of issues relevant to developing a viable roaming framework for public safety broadband networks.

The further notice addresses many technical components of interoperability, such as network identifiers and system interfaces. It also proposes that public safety equipment and devices undergo testing to ensure that interoperability is truly being achieved.  Other issues addressed in the further notice, such as performance and coverage, are important to ensuring that public safety networks achieve a baseline of operability necessary to support interoperable communications.

Finally, the further notice seeks comment on how to ensure that public safety broadband networks are fully interoperable with Next Generation 911 networks. As we move forward with this proceeding and with the Commission’s comprehensive inquiry into NG911, we must be mindful of how these two proceedings link together.   

I hope that the further notice portion of this action will elicit a wide array of detailed comments on the myriad issues it presents. We look forward to reviewing these comments and to continuing our dialogue with the public safety community, our federal partners, and other stakeholders, whose input is crucial to our developing a regulatory framework for achieving true interoperability.

CGB and WTB Release Advanced Services Accessibility PN

October 21st, 2010 by Karen Peltz Strauss

By Karen Peltz Strauss and Elizabeth Lyle

Today the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a Public Notice that seeks comment on some of the key provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which the President signed into law on October 8, 2010.

The law’s provisions are designed to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet Protocol-based communication and video programming technologies in the 21st Century.

The PN seeks comment on the requirement in Section 716 of the Act that service providers of advanced communications services and manufacturers of equipment and software used with those services ensure that their equipment and services will be accessible to people with disabilities, unless not achievable.

The Commission is required to promulgate rules implementing this provision within one year of enactment.  Given the tight statutory deadline, the PN seeks to build a record as quickly as possible to aid the Commission in its rulemaking.

The PN also seeks initial comment on ways to implement new recordkeeping obligations imposed by new Section 717 on entities subject to Sections 255, 716, and 718.  In addition, this Notice seeks comment on the obligation imposed by new Section 718 on manufacturers and service providers to provide access to Internet browsers in telephones used with public mobile services by blind or visually-impaired individuals.

Comments are due November 22 and reply comments are due December 7.  One way to submit comments is via the FCC’s electronic comment filing system (ECFS).  If ECFS is not accessible to you, you may send your comments directly to  We urge you to help us build this record.

Replies Requested: Last Call

January 14th, 2010 by Phoebe Yang - Senior Advisor to the Chairman on Broadband

As we are nearing the homestretch on developing the National Broadband Plan, we want to say how much we appreciate the unprecedented input folks have provided for the Plan.   As everyone knows, we have issued a lot of Public Notices -- 31 to be exact -- over the past five months asking for information about a lot of topics key to developing the Plan.  The input has been invaluable, and the process has been consistent with our pledge that data drive development of the Plan.

With our original Feb. 17 deadline to deliver a plan to Congress, we truncated the Commission’s normal process of following the initial comment period with a reply period for many of the Public Notices.  Of course, if time had permitted, we would have preferred giving interested parties the chance to send replies, which often provide a valuable public critique of ideas raised in initial comments.

Now that Congress has kindly granted us a 28-day extension of the plan deadline, to March 17, we are giving the public a final opportunity to reply to any of the comments they have read.  So we’re issuing another Public Notice, which is functioning as an overall last call for comments on the National Broadband Plan.  The deadline will be January 27.  But please send us your replies as soon as possible, or respond on the blog.  Yes, we got an extension, but March 17 is just around the corner – and it’s not a leap year.  Can you tell we're counting down the days?

In addition, we’re using the time to solicit public comment on key privacy issues recently raised by the Center for Democracy and Technology.  Yes, another Public Notice. The initial deadline is Jan. 22, and replies up until the last call: Jan. 27.  Thanks, everyone.

Public Interest and the Media in the Digital Age

December 17th, 2009 by Steve Waldman - Senior Advisor to the Chairman

In its December 2 Public Notice requesting comment on the uses of spectrum, the FCC asked:

Broadcasting and the Public Interest: Broadcasters have historically played an important role in advancing public interests through free over-the-air broadcast TV. What are the benefits of free, over-the-air television broadcasting, in particular with respect to public awareness of emergency information, local news, political discourse, and education?”
These are good questions at a time when the media landscape is changing dramatically.  Some innovations -- from both traditional media companies and new players -- are not only just as good as the status quo, they’re considerable improvements, and universal broadband will clearly help facilitate further innovation.  In some ways, this is a very exciting time in the evolution of media as we are seeing new delivery systems and types of content come on-line almost every day.
At the same time, we must recognize that the business model challenges now faced by the traditional media may diminish its ability to provide one its most critical functions: full time, local, professional journalism. This function is crucially important for democracy. It enables citizens to hold leaders accountable and get the information they need. Chairman Genachowski brought me to the Commission to spearhead a broad-ranging effort to look at these issues through a recently launched project on the future of the media in a digital age.
We are charged with looking at these questions, and all relevant Commission proceedings, through this lens:  what policies are most likely to insure that communities get the information and news they need? We need to ask what current trends tell us about the likely direction of news and information gathering and dissemination, and what are the implications of these trends for broadband and spectrum policy? What role can/should/will all holders of spectrum – including wireless companies and commercial and public broadcasters – play in helping keep America’s citizens informed?
We hope a full range of players will weigh in on these questions in comments in response to the Public Notice, which are due by December 21. Or you can comment on this blog.


Finding a Creative Spectrum Solution

December 8th, 2009 by Rebecca Hanson - Spectrum Director, National Broadband Taskforce

Last Wednesday, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on a variety of aspects and uses of the TV broadcast spectrum.
Until now, the discussion has been somewhat binary and predictable. Many broadcasters want to simply maintain the status quo, and many wireless broadband proponents (licensed and unlicensed) would like most or all of that spectrum to become available to them. 
In order to explore potential solutions, however, the discourse needs to become more constructive and more creative. The National Broadband Task Force has been charged with identifying and exploring ways to deliver robust broadband to everyone, and mobile broadband is an essential part of the solution. But mobile broadband won’t advance unless we can find spectrum to avoid crippling network congestion in the future. For better or for worse, broadcasters occupy one of the most attractive bands for mobile broadband applications, and we have an obligation to Congress, and to the needs of the country, to explore that spectrum’s evolutionary potential.
Thus, the real question that broadcasters should be asking themselves is “How can we best become part of a mobile broadband solution?” 
For some broadcasters, the answer may well be to return their spectrum to the FCC via a market mechanism that we are trying earnestly to design. For others, the answer may well be to find an innovative way to do what broadcasters do best – deliver video wirelessly to receivers – to solve one of the biggest challenges facing mobile broadband today – delivering video wirelessly to receivers. 
Hence our call for creative solutions. We seek ideas for market mechanisms for broadcasters who want to return some or all of the spectrum they currently use (or don’t use), and we seek innovative operational solutions from broadcasters who want to secure a place in the next evolution of our communications ecosystem.
Change is hard, but necessary, and often creates opportunities for visionary thought leadership. This is what we hope to see in the Public Notice responses, and look forward to working with the broadcast industry and others in the process of forging the most sustainable path to our wireless future.
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.

Networking the Television: Set-top Box Innovation

December 7th, 2009 by Alison Neplokh

We’re taking a fresh look at how you access video – the full “5-W” analysis – who, what, where, when, why? Who controls how you access video? What video sources are you watching? Where do you watch it? When do you watch it? Why are there so many boxes and remote controls?  Oh, and how should we fix it?

We’ve been working on fostering innovation in the set-top box market since Congress directed us to just about 13 years ago. For a while, we thought CableCARD was the key, but it’s time to take a step back and ask if we’re doing this the right way. Since video is such a big part of why people want broadband, it’s especially worth asking the questions in the context of the broadband plan. 
We think that if you can use the same device to get video and other content from the Internet as you do to get video from your cable or satellite operator, then your experience with both will be so much better. But how do we resolve the conflict between allowing video providers to continue to provide innovative video services and giving TV manufacturers a standard to build something that will work for more than a few years? Who decides what security system to use, and how to distribute the keys? Even harder, does everyone have to use the same thing? Where does guide data come from, who pays for it, and who decides how it is used and displayed? How can we get different video providers to find enough common ground to build a system that works for satellite, cable, IPTV, and Internet video?
As an engineer and a lawyer, this problem has fascinated me for years. Your computer, wireless router, network printer, gaming consoles, and many other devices all work no matter what broadband connection you have – cable, DSL, fiber-to-the-home, satellite, or a dorm/office network connection. This works because the market has settled on Ethernet as the way to connect devices on a data network, and you have a device that converts from whatever platform you use to Ethernet.   But of course, you also need dozens of protocols to really experience the Internet. Does a home multimedia network standard provide the foundation for a competitive set-top box market? Or is there some other way to allow all of your sources of video to work with all of your televisions, computers, and DVRs?  
The first question is how you want to use your video sources. Then, how do we get there?
For more details, background and context on these issues, please see the Public Notice. You can respond directly to this blog or file comments in 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 # 27.”


Future Broadband Deployment: Columbia Institute for Teleinformation Report

December 3rd, 2009 by Tom Koutsky

One of the most exciting parts of the national broadband plan project has been the opportunity, through our workshops and research projects, to hear and learn from the preeminent experts in the field.  This summer, we asked the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (“CITI”) based at Columbia Business School in New York to review and assess the projected deployment of broadband networks throughout the United States.  Robert C. Atkinson and Ivy E. Schultz of CITI have recently written and released their report, called Broadband in America:  Where It Is and where It Is Going (According to Broadband Service Providers).  
We want to take a closer look at three key conclusions in the report.  CITI says  that providers expect to be able to serve about 95% of U.S. homes with at least low-speed wired broadband service by 2013-14, and expect to serve about 90% of homes with advertised speeds of 50 mbps.  But the forecasts analyzed by CITI also indicate that perhaps five to ten million households will have “significantly inferior choices in broadband,” such as slower speeds or lack of terrestrial choices.  And CITI provides evidence that adoption of broadband will continue to lag availability for the foreseeable future.
            Assuming the study’s findings are correct, are they good news or bad news, and what would they mean for the National Broadband Plan?  A Dec. 10 workshop with the study’s authors might provide some answers.  We’ve also issued a Public Notice asking for comment on the report.  Please read the report and give us your thoughts by commenting on this blog or through the Electronic Filing Comment System, using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file. 


Consumer transparency- knowing your speed and performance matters!

November 25th, 2009 by Peter Bowen - Applications Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Do you know what kind of speed and performance you get from your broadband service today? Do you know what most Americans get? And if you knew, what would you do with that information? Who else would benefit from this information? How should broadband performance be tracked, reported and shared while protecting consumer privacy?
These are all critical questions as we tackle a National Broadband Plan. On Tuesday, the broadband team launched our 25th public notice, entitled “Broadband measurement and consumer transparency of fixed residential and small business services in the United States.” A nice, short title.
This notice focuses on the broadband services that households and small businesses subscribe to today, and how to increase transparency and track performance of those services. To that goal, it addresses three primary areas:
Consumer transparency
  • How should we think about the way that information about new and existing broadband service is displayed and communicated? 
  • Is this information comparable from one service offering to another?
  • How do we ensure privacy of consumer information?
Measurement, tracking and reporting
  • How should we augment existing data to track, measure and report broadband service performance across the nation?
  • What are the most useful pieces of performance information for consumers, researchers, service providers and regulators?
  • How should performance be measured?
  • What are the benefits and what are the costs of measurement?
Multi-unit building transparency
  • How should we increase transparency of broadband services offered for multi-unit residential and commercial buildings?

Answering these questions will help identify ways to educate broadband consumers, a goal everyone agrees is in the best interests of the country. Striking the right balance on depth of information, communication, privacy, display and cost effectiveness will be difficult, but we intend to find the right path. We need your input and thoughts on new ways of thinking that empower consumers.

Data Portability

November 23rd, 2009 by Vishal Doshi - Government Performance Analyst, National Broadband Task Force

No, we’re not talking about an android in a transporter. We’re talking about the data that pass through government systems, and the ways in which the public can make use of the data. As access to and adoption of broadband increases, the capacity for the flow of data between government and the public increases, enabling the provision of new services online. With that in mind, we’ve issued a Public Notice seeking your comments, data and analysis regarding data transparency, cloud computing, and online identity.

Data transparency: There have been significant efforts by governments and nonprofits across the country and around the world to publish government data in a central repository. These include the publication of data feeds and competitions encouraging innovative and novel uses of government data. Share your success stories and frustrations. What would you like to see government continue doing or do differently regarding data transparency?
Cloud computing: Cloud computing is often misunderstood. That is why we want to know more about cloud computing as a model for the provisioning of technology. The federal government has taken steps to adopt this model (see or this article about the CIA’s internal cloud). We want to understand the consequences of agencies moving their systems to the cloud, with a specific focus on potential costs and benefits. Please share your views. What are the costs and benefits of moving to the cloud?
Online identity: In order to provide a number of the new services enabled by increased broadband access and adoption, governments at all levels will need ways to verify people’s identities online to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and increase the integrity of government services. The federal government has begun exploring the use of Open ID technologies to provision services that require a low assurance level (pdf) – or “little or no confidence in the asserted identity’s validity.” What are the potential costs and benefits of a national strategy on this topic?
For more details, background and context on these issues, please see the Public Notice. You can respond directly to this blog or file comments in 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 # 21.”


Reforming Universal Service for Broadband?

November 19th, 2009 by Carol Mattey - Deputy Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau

Virtually everyone agrees that the current universal service program is broken.  But how to fix it – that’s the $64 million question.  Oh, make that the $7 billion question and growing.  At the same time, universal service has the potential to help provide affordable broadband everywhere.  But if we are going to make that happen, we can’t explode the size of the fund in the process.   It’s not telephone companies that pay for universal service.  It's you and me and everyone else in America that pays.   We have to decide as a nation what exactly we are trying to achieve with the universal service fund and how we can best direct those resources to benefit consumers.

As part of our data-driven process to develop the National Broadband Plan, we are seeking additional comment in a Public Notice released last week relating to various aspects of universal service and intercarrier compensation We aren’t looking for more general advocacy about the need to reform universal service or intercarrier compensation; we want solid factual analyses and data to help shape the path forward.  For instance, we want to know how changes in the universal service fund contribution methodology will impact consumers, how high-cost funding can be targeted to unserved areas, and what specific steps the Commission could take to make broadband more affordable for low income consumers.  Please file comments using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.   You should note in your comments that you are responding to Public Notice #19.  You can also post comments on Blogband, and they will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan.

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