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The World Radiocommunication Conference

Posted February 26th, 2010 by Alexander Roytblat

The World Radiocommunication Conference (or WRC) is an international treaty-level forum held by the International Telecommunication Union (or ITU) (a United Nations agency) about every four years.  At the WRC countries decide on the sharing of frequency spectrum to allow the deployment or growth of all types of radiocommunication services such as wireless, broadcasting, satellite, aeronautical and other services.  Because WRC decisions have such wide-reaching effects on U.S. and international radiocommunication industries, the preparations for this conference begin several years in advance.  During the WRC preparatory phase, long term goals and positions that would benefit the U.S. government and commercial industry are developed. 

To identify the public interest for various items to be addressed by WRC, the FCC established a forum, WRC-12 Advisory Committee (WAC), in which the public can provide its views and recommendations to the agency.  The WAC is established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  The WAC is chaired by private sector representatives and has an open membership structure.  The FCC takes WAC recommendations in to account as it develops positions for the WRC based on the public interest standard.  In parallel, NTIA works with the Executive Branch agencies to identify their priorities for the conference.  Subsequently, the FCC and NTIA reconcile any differences and formulate joint recommendations to State Department which has overall responsibility for U.S. preparations and participation in the WRC.  This approach increases the opportunity for information exchange, and benefits everyone involved.

Posted in International Bureau Wireless Advisory Committee
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A Photo Project - Public Safety & Homeland Security

Posted February 23rd, 2010 by Jamie Barnett - Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

I'm pleased to announce that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is conducting a Photo Project and Contest so that we can collect and feature public safety pictures on the PSHSB website.   We have put a lot of effort into making our Bureau's section of FCC.gov useful for the public safety community, and believe it would be an even more effective tool if we featured live action photos of first responders performing their duties.  We are hoping for an enthusiastic response to this initiative.

While I'm on the subject of our website, I'd also like to highlight our Clearinghouse, which has been a key component of our outreach to the public safety community.  The Clearinghouse provides a centralized resource for information about emergency preparation, response and recovery, and is a searchable online repository of over 270 documents from federal, state and local sources.  These documents relate to our target groups of First Responders, Public Safety Answering Points, the Health Care Sector, and Persons with Disabilities and include best practices, grant information, sample emergency plans, as well as original content developed by PSHSB staff.  I encourage you to visit our website and Clearinghouse.  We are always looking for new materials, as well, so if you wish to submit documents to be posted, please email us at: PSHSBinfo at FCC dot gov.


Posted in Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
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ON DECK: Pending and Upcoming Litigation Involving the FCC

Posted February 19th, 2010 by Richard Welch

As we progress through the first quarter of calendar year 2010, we in the Office of General Counsel thought it might be of interest to summarize briefly the pending appellate litigation matters of significance in which the FCC is a party.

First, on January 13th in New York City, the Second Circuit held oral argument in Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC.   The case presents a First Amendment attack on the FCC’s decisions finding violations of the broadcast indecency statute and regulations for Fox’s broadcast of expletives by celebrities Cher and Nicole Richie on separate live television awards shows.  That case is on remand from the Supreme Court, which overturned the Second Circuit’s earlier judgment that the FCC had not adequately explained a change in its indecency enforcement policy.  It likely will be several months before the court issues its opinion – but, whatever the outcome, the case is a potential candidate to head back to the Supreme Court before final resolution.

Similarly, on February 23rd (just a few weeks after this year’s Super Bowl), the Third Circuit will hear oral argument in Philadelphia in CBS Corp. v. FCC, another broadcast indecency case.  At issue is CBS’s broadcast of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show in which Janet Jackson, performing with Justin Timberlake, suffered what some have described as a “wardrobe malfunction.”  CBS is challenging the $550,000 forfeiture that the FCC assessed against certain CBS-owned affiliates for broadcasting Jackson’s fleeting nudity.  The Third Circuit previously found that the FCC had changed its policy without adequately explaining why, but this case also is on remand from the Supreme Court in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fox Television Stations, described above.

And we continue to await a decision in the case of ABC, Inc. v. FCC, a challenge to the FCC’s enforcement action for broadcast of nudity during an episode of the television show NYPD Blue.  That case was argued before the Second Circuit almost exactly one year ago in February 2009.

First Amendment challenges seem to abound in the New Year and are not confined to the broadcast indecency context.  A carriage dispute between a broadcast television station and certain cable systems may give the Supreme Court an opportunity to address a constitutional challenge to the “must carry” statute in Cablevision Systems Corp. v. FCC.  Most recently, the FCC ruled that a broadcast station north of New York City should be included in that city’s television market area, thereby making the station eligible for mandatory carriage on Cablevision’s cable television systems on Long Island.  On review, the Second Circuit rebuffed Cablevision’s challenges and affirmed the FCC’s order in its entirety.  Cablevision has now asked the Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit’s judgment, chiefly on the ground that the must carry statute violates the First Amendment.  As the schedule currently stands, the Solicitor General will file the government’s response on February 26th.  The Supreme Court should announce whether it will accept the case on its docket later in the spring.

Heading down the Eastern Seaboard, the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. – in yet another case captioned Cablevision Systems Corp. v. FCC – is considering a challenge to the Commission’s decision to extend the effective date of its program access rules.  Those rules ban exclusive contracts between cable operators and cable-affiliated programming suppliers.  Oral argument was held in September 2009; we may see an opinion from the court in the near future.

On January 8, 2010, the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in Comcast Corp. v. FCC before a packed house.  In that case, Comcast challenges an FCC order declaring that Comcast could not lawfully block its Internet access subscribers’ use of peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent.  It likely will be several months before we see a decision in that high-profile case.

We also await a decision from the Third Circuit in Council Tree Communications, Inc. v. FCC.  Council Tree challenges the FCC’s revised designated entity rules, which apply to persons seeking to bid at auction for spectrum licenses.  The case was argued on December 1st of last year.

And finally, for those of you who have recently struggled with the winter weather here on the East Coast, let me try to ease your pain by reference to baseball – after all, this space is entitled “On Deck.”  Spring training is nigh!  It’s time for pitchers and catchers to report!  And Opening Day – when the spirit is lifted and life begins anew – is less than six weeks away!

Posted in Office of General Counsel

Helping Haiti: The FCC’s Work with Conatel

Posted February 19th, 2010 by Mindel DeLaTorre - Chief of the International Bureau

Prior Postings: January 14, January 15, January 20, January 28, February 5, February 17

At the FCC, we continue to be very busy on a number of fronts to continue to help Haiti regarding its communications services. 

Within the U.S. Government, our work is in coordination with USAID as you know.  But it really derives directly from our regulatory counterpart in Haiti – Conatel.  The importance and necessity of our work at the FCC is underscored by the requests of the Director General (DG), Mr. Montaigne Marcelin,  which continue to come in.

When the communications asssessment team was in Haiti in late January, we were fortunate to be able to spend a great deal of time with the DG and the staff of Conatel.  We discussed the status of the communications sector in Haiti, and several key regulatory issues like spectrum management.  In addition, on behalf of our two agencies, Mr. Marcelin and I signed an  “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Regarding Communications Regulatory Cooperation” between Conatel and the FCC, as requested by the Conatel DG. The MOU states that the FCC will provide assistance to Conatel in several areas, including: ongoing assessment of the needs of the communications sector in Haiti, spectrum management, licensing policies and procedures, human resource capacity building, as well as other regulatory issues as needed.  The cooperation between Conatel and the FCC is envisioned to be telephone and email consultation, in-country assessments and technical assistance by FCC staff, and Conatel staff fellowships at the FCC.

In this spirit of cooperation, earlier this week, FCC Chairman Genachowski and Mr. Marcelin talked directly on the telephone.  The Conatel DG expressed his continuing gratitude for, and interest in, the FCC’s assistance, which the DG also indicated in a letter that he sent to the Chairman on Wednesday.  And Chairman Genachowski assured the DG that we would continue to help Haiti regarding its communications services.  Many such efforts are underway.  For example, at yesterday's Open Commission Meeting, the Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and I gave a presentation to the full Commission regarding the FCC’s key efforts since the earthquake.  (We had given an initial presentation on January 20, but so much more has been done since then.)  The support from the FCC Chairman and all of the Commissioners for the FCC’s work regarding Haiti continues to be as strong as the Haitian people are resilient. 

Thanks for checking in.  I will keep posting updates on this blog.     

Posted in International Bureau

FCC Ethics Program

Posted February 18th, 2010 by Patrick Carney

Among the missions of the Administrative Law Division of the FCC’s Office of General Counsel are the prevention of conflicts of interest on the part of the Commission’s employees, and the prompt resolution of any such conflicts that may occur.  On his first full day in office President Obama signed an ethics Executive Order establishing some of the strongest ethics guidelines ever set for Federal employees, including those working at the FCC.   The FCC is fully committed to ensuring that these ethics rules are faithfully followed, and has a team in place that is dedicated full-time to assisting its employees in interpreting and complying with the Federal ethical standards

Our goal in promoting these high ethical standards for all of our employees is to assure the American people that the decisions made and that actions take by its dedicated civil servants are motivated solely by the interests of the public and are free of any inappropriate outside influences.  In an earlier blog, my colleague, Larry Schecker has described some of the steps that the FCC has taken and continues to take, under the authority of the Freedom of Information Act, to foster openness in government and to further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the actions taken by the Commission.  Apart from the FCC-wide approaches that Larry describes, there are several additional vehicles for promoting openness in government that are under the oversight of the FCC’s ethics advisors. 

For example, any gift that has been made to the FCC is listed in a semi-annual report to Congress and the record of all such gifts is available for public review upon request.  Similarly, the financial disclosure reports filed by senior FCC officials are available to the public upon request, as is a list of those FCC officials who are covered by the Lobbying Disclosure Act.  For more information on the ethics program in place at the FCC, please contact the Administrative Law Division in our Office of General Counsel.  We’re available at 202-418-1720, and would be pleased to talk with you about the steps we’re taking to ensure your confidence in the actions taken by your public servants here at the FCC.  

Posted in Office of General Counsel
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America’s 2020 Broadband Vision

Posted February 17th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

In a month, the Federal Communications Commission will deliver a National Broadband Plan, as it was asked to do by Congress and the President in the Recovery Act. 

This will be a meaningful plan for U.S. global leadership in high-speed Internet to create jobs and spur economic growth; to unleash new waves of innovation and investment; and to improve education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety, and the vibrancy of our democracy. 

I believe this plan is vitally important to America’s future. 

Studies from the Brookings Institute, MIT, the World Bank, and others all tell us the same thing -- that even modest increases in broadband adoption can yield hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Broadband empowers small businesses to compete and grow and will ensure that the jobs and industries of tomorrow are created in the United States. 

The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life for all Americans. 

The National Broadband Plan will describe concrete ways in which broadband can be a part of 21st century solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing challenges, including:

  • Extending the availability and lowering the costs of quality care by putting digital health tools in the hands of doctors and hospitals across the country and removing geographic barriers for patient treatment.  
  • Providing our kids with a world class, 21st century education, connecting them to the global library and giving them the digital skills they need for the future.
  • Making our electric grid smart and efficient and providing Americans with the information they need to make their homes and buildings smarter.  
  • Ensuring that law enforcement officers and first responders across the country have cutting-edge, reliable communications technologies to respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively. 

These are real benefits for real people -- like the unemployed forty-seven-year-old I met in the Bronx who got job training over the Internet to become a telecom technician. And the employees of Blue Valley Meats, in the small town of Diller, Nebraska, which doubled its workforce and saw 40 percent growth by setting up a website and selling its beef online -- once Diller got broadband. 

But right now, we are at a crossroads. For while the United States invented the Internet, when it comes to broadband we are lagging behind where we should be.

Roughly 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband, and more than 100 million Americans who could and should have broadband don’t. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of U.S. households, compared with 88 percent adoption in Singapore, and 95 percent adoption in South Korea. The U.S. adoption rate is even lower among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.

This country can and must do better.  In today’s global economy, leading the world in broadband is leading the world. 

This is where the National Broadband Plan comes in.  By setting ambitious goals and laying out proposals to connect all Americans to a world-class broadband infrastructure, we will help secure our country’s global competitiveness for generations to come.

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan will include the following key recommendations:

  • 100 Squared Initiative: 100 million households at a minimum of 100 megabits per second (Mbs) -- the world’s largest market of high-speed broadband users -- to ensure that new businesses are created in America and stay in America.
  • Broadband Testbeds: Encourage the creation of ultra high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than any Internet service in the world, so that America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow’s ideas and industries.
  • Digital Opportunities: Expand digital opportunities by moving our adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent and making sure that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school. 

The quantitative and qualitative benefits of these proposals -- and the many others that the FCC’s plan will contain -- are vast.  Connecting the country to higher speeds means more jobs, more innovation, and more economic growth.

The National Broadband Plan will chart a clear path forward -- ensuring that broadband is our enduring engine for creating jobs and growing our economy, for spreading knowledge and enhancing civic engagement, for advancing a healthier, sustainable way of life.

Pursuing the opportunity of universal broadband is, I believe, a universal goal. Our technology future is one that we can -- and must -- create together.

[Cross-posted on the White House Blog and Blogband.]

Posted in From The Chairman National Broadband Plan

And Now Haiti, Part One

Posted February 17th, 2010 by Richard Lee - Associate Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Prior Postings: January 14, January 15, January 20, January 28, February 5

In January 2005, I volunteered with World Harvest Indonesia to work in a refugee camp in Banda Aceh, Indonesia helping survivors of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.  It was a humbling experience that I hoped would never be repeated.  But in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States and once again I became a part of a major response effort.  I spent almost three months in the New Orleans area as the FCC’s on-scene team leader working to restore vital communications.  Since then many other staff in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (EB) and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) have joined me in volunteering as a Federal Emergency Communications first responder.  Since Katrina, more than 40 FCC personnel have trained and participated in disaster preparedness and response exercises related to communications restoration.  This group operates as part of the Federal Response Framework’s Emergency Support Function #2 – Communications (ESF #2), and deploys to a disaster area to assist with the communications restoration effort.  In 2008, ESF #2 trained staff from EB deployed to South Dakota and Iowa to help with communications during the Spring flooding events in those areas.  Later as the 2008 Hurricane Season got underway, FCC staff from EB and PSHSB deployed to Louisiana and Texas after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged the Gulf Coast.
The FCC also deploys technology to help with communications restoration.  Called Project Roll Call - it was developed in 2007, in partnership with FEMA.  Equipment and software used by EB for spectrum observations were modified to support the Federal disaster response by identifying the operational status of wireless communications systems following major disasters.  Over a four-hour period, Project Roll Call scans the spectrum (each scan covers a 30-mile radius) and provides operational status reports within three hours of data collection on Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR); State and Local Government emergency command and control; Commercial Wireless (cellular); and, Broadcast.  These reports assist in organizing and targeting the Federal emergency communications response.  In 2008, PSHSB expanded the Roll Call capability by including equipment and software to provide street-level cellular coverage maps for areas within the disaster zone.

At 1653 (EST) on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck 10 miles SW of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The United States and countries around the globe began organizing a massive relief effort.  On Thursday afternoon, the FCC was asked by FEMA to deploy a Roll Call team to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to support FEMA’s Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) team and search and rescue efforts.  PSHSB and EB quickly assembled a three person Roll Call team comprised of myself, Joe Husnay (EB Norfolk office), and Juan Silva (PSHSB).  Our small team deployed to Homestead Air Reserve Base on Saturday afternoon to meet up with the MERS team and await military air transportation to Haiti.

 After a few days of waiting at Homestead, we finally boarded a C-130 aircraft for the 2 ½ hour trip to Haiti.  We arrived in Port-au-Prince at 6 pm on Monday, January 18.  The airport scene reminded me of Banda Aceh airport in Indonesia.  Massive amounts of relief cargo had been off-loaded and scattered about.  People were standing, sitting, and walking around hoping for a seat on the first available outbound plane.  And it was hot and humid.  We quickly met our FEMA hosts and the driver helped us locate our bags and equipment amongst the tons of relief supplies.  We were then told to wait for transportation to the US Embassy which would be our home for the next two weeks.

We finally arrived at the US Embassy at 10 pm after spending a few hours waiting at the airport for a security escort.  Our new home was an army cot in the Embassy parking lot – but we couldn’t complain about the view because each night we fell asleep under a sky filled with a million stars – and I should add – a million mosquitoes.  Room service was great, too, as our first wakeup call was a 6.1 aftershock.  And the food?  Well, just let me say that we were introduced to a new food brand – known to the military as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), but I don’t recommend it for long term use.  Things did get better as we finally received a tent and mosquito nets after a week of camping in the open and the only Domino’s Pizza outlet in Haiti reopened.

Our workdays started around 6 am and Joe and Juan worked late each night calibrating equipment, updating software, and making repairs to broken instruments.  Over the next ten days, we conducted two Roll Call spectrum scans from different locations around the city of Port-au-Prince.  The overlapping scans were used to build an inventory of active frequency use in the disaster area and assisted us and the Government of Haiti with spectrum management and interference resolution.  We also conducted drives around the city to develop cellular coverage maps and visited damaged broadcast stations and public safety radio sites. 

Within two days of our arrival we had success in locating and meeting with the Director General of Conatel (the FCC and NTIA equivalent in Haiti).  We provided the Director General with an Iridium satellite phone which enabled him to stay in contact with FCC staff at headquarters.  We also arranged for the Director General to come to the Embassy to meet with USAID staff regarding assistance needed to maintain or restore vital communications.

During the last few days of our stay we were joined by an FCC Assessment Team which we helped by arranging transportation and security for their site visits and meetings.

We returned home safely from Haiti on Sunday, January 31, 2010, with a profound respect for the people of Haiti.  Read my next blog to learn more about the people of Haiti and how you can help them recover from this catastrophic event.

Posted in Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
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Helping Haiti: Back from Port-au-Prince

Posted February 5th, 2010 by Mindel DeLaTorre - Chief of the International Bureau


I have returned from Haiti and am back at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.  As I explained previously, our mission to Haiti was at the request of the Haitian telecommunications regulator, Conatel, and in coordination with USAID (which is leading the US Government efforts in Haiti). Though I have traveled all over the world, and have worked with communications regulators in small and developing countries like Haiti, I have never had quite the experience we had in Haiti.  Our U.S. Communications Sector Assessment Team spent a week in Haiti (a few of the members were there longer).  What we saw and what we learned was amazing.  The extent of the destruction of the communications facilities was significant.  Yet, the resilience and determination of both the Haitian government and private industry to get communications services back up and running was profound – this was despite overwhelming loss of family, friends and staff in addition to damaged buildings, roads and homes.  And nonetheless, there was a marked “uptick” in the streets of Haiti from when we arrived until when we left.  By our last full day (Saturday, January 30), the people were a little less shell-shocked and certainly more purposeful – selling fresh vegetables on the streets, cleaning up debris, re-stacking demolished walls and smiles came more easily on their faces.  To me, the people of Haiti are remarkably kind and patient and we found them to be very appreciative of any and all help.
We met with about twenty-five representatives from the telecommunications industry in Haiti.  The government meetings included Conatel, the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, and the National Police.  During the whole mission, we worked very closely with Conatel Director General Marcelin, his staff member Mr. Alexander, and representatives of USAID.  We talked to company managers and owners of the wireline company TELECO, the wireless carriers, the Internet service providers.  We also conducted many visits of destroyed or damaged facilities and headquarter buildings.  I was especially struck when we went to visit the FCC’s counterpart Conatel.  Its existing building has huge fissures through it making it uninhabitable (like so many buildings in Haiti) but it is still standing.  However, what was even more stunning was when we went to what was supposed to be the five-story new Conatel headquarters building – which now is only a pile of rubble.  Had the earthquake happened a few months later and during business hours, our Conatel colleagues would have suffered unimaginable loss.
I tried to meet up with the Telecom sans Frontieres crews who are providing free international calls in many of the refugee camps around Port-au-Prince (and now outside the city as well), but due to tremendously difficult logistical issues, I was not able to meet up with them.  I did, however, chat with their staff about the wonderful work that they are doing in Haiti – as the very first telecom responder in Haiti they have played a key role in connecting the victims of the earthquake with loved ones around the world.  You can see more about what they are doing in Haiti at TSF’s website.
I want to tell you about a special need in Haiti now – the radio and TV stations.  The earthquake affected all of Haiti’s communications infrastructure, but the damage to radio and TV stations has been particularly debilitating because they are normally staffed 24/7 so the proportional loss of life and building and equipment damage was enormous.  The  impact of the earthquake has strained the ability to spread information about humanitarian relief and other messages, not to mention music and recreational programming.  A good thing about broadcasting is that it can reach so many people at once – when it’s working.   Now more than ever, radio and TV is a critical source of information for the people of Haiti – regarding location of food and water distribution, medical services, shelter, weather, etc.    By the time we left, only six of 18 TV licensees were on the air, and their operations were intermittent.  The two licensed AM radio stations were off the air because they couldn’t afford the fuel needed to run the generators that would power their transmitters.  Of the 40 licensed FM stations, 30 were on the air, with a few able to operate between 12-16 hours per day.  Damaged facilities and equipment, limited fuel and lack of advertising revenue are really hurting the broadcasters in Haiti now.
To help improve this situation, at the FCC, we are working with U.S. broadcast organizations to facilitate any assistance possible for the Haitian broadcasters – from equipment to programming.  There is an organization on the ground in Haiti called the Internews Network.  Internews is an international media development organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people needed news and information.  It has responded to other disasters around the world and is in Haiti trying to help improve the broadcasting situation.  At the FCC, we’re also exploring ideas to see what could be done to support Haiti’s broadcast media.
Although we’ve completed our on-the-ground assessment in Haiti, that’s just the beginning.  We’re busy at the FCC writing a report about our communications sector assessment in Haiti, and are simultaneously addressing specific issues like the needs of the broadcasters.  We have a lot more work to do to help Haiti regarding its communications services – for a long time to come.  The FCC’s commitment to do so is strong and continuing.  Thanks for your interest in this important work.  I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in International Bureau

FCC to Host Public Forum on Mobile Broadband for First Responders

Posted February 5th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

 There’s a lot of excitement around the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau this week about our upcoming public forum on mobile broadband for first responders. On Wednesday, February 10th at 2:00 p.m., we’ll be hosting first responders, network operators, and policy makers for a two-hour discussion about how we can solve a problem that has plagued the public safety community for far too long.

Looking back over the past decade, there is one thing that every major disaster has in common: when police, fire, EMS, and other public safety organizations couldn’t communicate – between agencies and disciplines and across jurisdictional lines – lives were lost, and property was damaged or destroyed. While sharing photos, videos, and mapping data is now a part of everyday life for most Americans, the public safety community has largely been left behind. Despite all of the advances in mobile communications, the new generation of first responders still needs to carry a device that resembles a two-pound brick that only handles voice calls. Soon, however, all that will change.
One of the recommendations being explored by Commission staff for the forthcoming National Broadband Plan is the formation of an Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) at the FCC. As currently envisioned, ERIC would make sure that future public safety broadband networks use common interoperability standards and operating procedures. Before we can recommend the creation of ERIC, however, we consider it vitally important that we discuss the idea with the broader public safety community and with the commercial network operators who will likely be called upon to build the new network-of-networks.
The upcoming Public Forum will give the public and the public safety community a chance to collaborate with the FCC and commercial network operators on a framework for finally providing our nation’s first responders with ubiquitous and seamlessly-interoperable mobile broadband service. Next Wednesday, we invite YOU to share your thoughts on three broad topics that will be important to this effort. First, assuming ERIC is created, we want to learn how it can best be structured to meet the needs of first responders. Second, we want to learn what tasks the community thinks ERIC should tackle, in what order, and in what time frame. Finally, we’ll be looking for specific advice on how ERIC should interact with first responders in order to coordinate network development, reduce roll-out costs, and meet the differing needs of communities large and small.
The wider the participation we have for this forum, the better our final recommendations to Congress will be, so we hope you’ll join us in Washington (in the FCC’s Commission Meeting Room) or on-line!
PLEASE NOTE: Due to overwhelming interest in this forum and the limited time available, we regret that not every participant will have an opportunity to speak. To make the process as fair and open as possible, participants must request a three-minute speaking slot by emailing susan [dot] mclean [at] fcc [dot] gov by NOON on FEBRUARY 9th, 2010. The thirty-three available slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those unable to make it to DC can catch the event streamed live on the web at FCC.gov/Live and can follow our coverage on Twitter.


Posted in Events Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

The FCC and FOIA

Posted February 3rd, 2010 by Larry Schecker - Special Counsel, Administrative Law Division, OGC

The FCC’s FOIA Annual Report for FY 2009 has just been posted as required by the FOIA.  This year our report shows improvement in many areas.  And new this year, in addition to a PDF of the report, all of the statistics are available in spreadsheets (CSV format) for the public to examine and use. 

One interesting point from the report – 94% of the FOIA requests where we had responsive records were granted in whole or in part; only 6% were denied in full pursuant to one or more of the FOIA exemptions. 

The FY 2009 report shows that we have dramatically reduced the backlog of FOIA appeals.  At the start of FY 2009 we had 30 pending appeals, and we received 14 new appeals during the fiscal year.  The Commission disposed of 37 appeals (either by decision or by informally resolving the appeal), leaving only 7 pending appeals at the start of FY 2010. 

As we move forward, we aim to do even better.  We are trying to process FOIA requests even faster.  We are working to process appeals as quickly as possible, either resolving them informally or submitting the appeal to the Commission for decision.  And under the President’s Open Government Directive, we are making more and more information available on the FCC’s website.

So, let me ask – what helpful information about the FOIA could we post that is is not on our website?  Our Chief FOIA Officer, General Counsel Austin Schlick, wants to know!

Posted in Office of General Counsel Open Government
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