Federal Communications Commission

Archive for July 2010

Chairman Genachowski addresses OPASTCO in Seattle

July 29th, 2010 by George Krebs

The Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) opened a conference bridge for media representatives to hear FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski address OPASTCO’s 47th Annual Summer Convention and Tradeshow in Seattle on Wednesday.  Following the FCC Chairman’s address, media were invited to stay on the conference bridge to hear a panel of national and state telecommunications association executives discuss the National Broadband Plan and what it means for rural America, its carriers and customers. 

Click here for the text of the full speech.

Click here for the audio of the full speech

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…

July 29th, 2010 by Pam Gregory

As you may have heard, the Federal Communications Commission had a blow-out celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act 20th Anniversary.  We partnered with the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce and held a big, I mean B-I-G event on July 19th.  To learn more about those events, please read this blog post.  The FCC also made two videos.  The first video is of the FCC’s own George Krebs touring the Technology Expo.  You can see from the video how crowded the Expo was, and during their tour, they stopped at several booths and asked questions about the various technologies.  The video is open captioned, and captures the fun and positive energy in the room.  When you watch it you will feel like you attended this in person!

The second video was titled “Celebrating Progress: ADA 20th Anniversary” and was shown at the program in the Department of Commerce’s auditorium.  It is twenty minutes of film clips interviewing twenty-two leaders in the disability community on their stories, before the ADA, with the ADA, and what they hope for the future.  It was amazing that so many VIPs were able to give up their time for the interview, and even more generous, opened their hearts telling compelling stories about disability access (or sometimes lack of access).  We all felt uplifted by their stories, and left on a high of what truly is possible when barriers are broken and minds are opened.  The video will be posted on our Internet site in its entirety this fall, with full footage of the leaders. 

When you get a chance, take a look at both videos—they will make you laugh and inspire you!


A Look at the Medical Technology Showcase

July 27th, 2010 by Mohit Kaushal - Digital Healthcare Director


Over the last two days we’ve partnered with the Food and Drug Administration to host a wireless medical technology showcase. With over twenty exhibitors displaying their cutting edge devices and six superb panels it has been an eventful meeting. We’ve put together a video blog looking at some of the latest devices in the medical arena. Join Chairman Genachowski, FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg and Federal Chief Technology Officer Annesh Chopra as we have a look.

A Look at the ADA 20th Anniversary Showcase

July 26th, 2010 by George Krebs

Twenty years ago today congress passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. A week ago the FCC celebrated this milestone with an exhibition and program showcasing the advances made in assistive technology. See our video below for a look at the event.


(Video and production credit: Jenny Hou)

Private and Public Stakeholders to Collaborate on Better Informing Consumers About Accessible Apps

July 26th, 2010 by Karen Peltz Strauss

On Friday, I participated in an Apps4Access event on Capitol Hill, hosted by the Committee on Disability Power and Pride, that focused on the wide array of wireless and other applications that can benefit people with disabilities.   Participants included representatives from the disability community, industry, and government, as well as apps developers.

At the event, I asked what industry can do to ensure that consumers are aware of the great number of accessibility apps that are available now and may become available in the future.

In response, CTIA - the Wireless Association volunteered to work with consumers and the FCC to figure out the best way to make this information available to consumers.  Among other things, this may include updating and expanding the wireless association's accessibility website, so that it would be a first stop for consumers searching for information about accessible wireless devices, services, and apps.  CTIA's acceptance of this challenge was conditioned on the agreement of consumers, the FCC, and other stakeholders to collaborate with industry representatives on this project.   We and all of the consumer groups in attendance at the event readily agreed to work together and committed to moving the project forward in a coordinated effort with CTIA.

This is exactly the kind of industry initiative and collaborative problem solving that we think will drive the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative that the Chairman launched last Monday, during our celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ADA.  We applaud the wireless industry's leadership and look forward to working with all stakeholders to make its commitment a reality for consumers.

Connecting America’s Stories: Empowering America’s Disabled Citizens

July 26th, 2010 by Page Schindler Buchanan

July 26th marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In two decades our nation has come a long way in appreciating the contributions and needs of those people who, in the past, were all too often left behind.

Another major innovation that has changed the lives of disabled Americans in the past 20 years has been broadband internet access.  Never before have people been so empowered to communicate, work, play, learn and enjoy entertainment – if they have broadband access.  Unfortunately in many areas it just isn’t available, or affordable.
Sara in White Swan, Washington
With Broadband made available here in the rural areas of the Yakama Indian Reservation it would help us out alot. My Sister and I are disabled and do not drive much so our entertainment is at home. Faster internet would help with education needs in our home, access to information on the web for health, research, entertainment at a low cost (web surfing), able to keep in contact with family in other states. 
The phone co keeps telling us soon for broadband, we have seen them upgrade the lines right in front of our home, but still waiting for some type of upgrades to come in to the substation to allow people further out access to broadband. It would be nice to have a faster service at a decent rate.
The Broadband Plan makes several recommendations to help get access to Tribal Lands and other rural areas, and has already set out a path to make those plans a reality.  In addition to access, it is important that people are educated on the potential that broadband hold for personal and professional purposes.
Brian in Spring, Texas
After a long and successful career as a systems architect I became disabled at the age of 42. My only hope to return to work and support my family is to be able to work remotely via broadband connection. 
The issue is two fold - first, none of the companies I could potentially work for are willing to hire remote resource / telecommute workers despite the fact that every aspect of my trade can be performed this way without modifications or added expense. Given the fact that I used to travel 100 percent for work the switch to telecommute resources would save thousands of dollars per year in travel expenses, energy, time, etc. The current business model is a huge waste of time and money. 
Secondly, though we have high speed internet the actual speeds and quality of connection are border line. We live in an area where a single provider is our only path to broadband. This allows them to provide poor service at higher than normal rates vs. areas where they have at least one competitor. This is a much larger issue than wiring connections from point A to point B. Our country could save billions if not trillions of dollars per year and unimaginable energy resources via a conversion to telecommute program.
Brian raises two important points that the plan addresses.  First, encouraging telework is an essential part of developing economic opportunity through broadband access. Congress recognizes the importance of teleworking to the new economy and is currently working on legislation that will promote it.  
Second, having competition for customers’ business, as well as clear and accurate consumer information about services, is an important component of ensuring access.  Since releasing the plan, the FCC has launched an app that allows you to test your actual broadband speed so you can compare it to what your provider promised. The app has recently served its 1 millionth test proving that the need for quality and accurate broadband service.
Click here to see a video with more information. 
Jeffrey N. in Wilton, Connecticut
I am visually impaired. I rely on broadband access to access printed content and video for viewing via adaptive devices. I also utilize broadband for remote video monitoring of my home when traveling. This in addition to the normal research, email/web, VPN to work, and social networking comprises the majority of my broadband usage. 
As we celebrate 20 years of empowerment with the American’s with Disabilities Act, we can also see a bright future 20 years from now, with broadband innovations we can’t even imagine improving the lives of all Americans, with all of their different abilities.

An ADA Celebration for the Broadband Age

July 23rd, 2010 by Karen Peltz Strauss

Monday’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a momentous occasion – and we plan on building from that momentum over the coming weeks and months.

The White House, the FCC and the Department of Commerce teamed together to sponsor an all-day event that started at the White House with accessibility-related technology announcements from all over the Federal government.

In the afternoon, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski launched the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, which will bring together consumer, industry, government, technology, and academic stakeholders in collaborative efforts to explore accessibility solutions to access barriers. The Chairman also announced the start of the Initiative’s website, the establishment of the Chairman’s Awards for Advancements in Accessibility, and other disability-related challenges and events in which the Commission will be participating.

Commissioner Copps was also actively engaged in the day’s activities, and gave remarks during a morning panel at the White House and the afternoon program at the Department of Commerce. Both Chairman Genachowski and Commissioner Copps toured some of the 40-plus accessibility and technology exhibits arranged by the FCC and on display at the Department of Commerce.

The afternoon included a moving program with musical and dance acts by the Wild Zappers (a deaf dance troupe) and Gallaudet University students, and an FCC original video chronicling personal stories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities. Watch for this video, which will soon be posted on the FCC’s website.

On Monday, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) also released a Public Notice seeking comment on the accessibility of the Commission’s activities and programs (to fulfill its Section 504 obligations) and CGB and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau jointly released a Public Notice seeking comment on accessible mobile phone options for people who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision.

The day ended with a brainstorming discussion by technology developers and persons with disabilities to identify and prioritize technology barriers to people with disabilities and to explore possible solutions to those barriers.

Today, the FCC participated in Apps4Access, an event being hosted by the Committee on Disability Power and Pride that is focused on giving consumers an opportunity to become better acquainted with wireless and other applications that are accessible to people with disabilities. Stay tuned for more about this event, as well as future blog posts on other exciting disability-related announcements and events involving the FCC.

FCC-FDA Meet Monday-Tuesday on Wireless Medical Device Innovation

July 21st, 2010 by Mohit Kaushal - Digital Healthcare Director

It’s been several months since the release of the National Broadband Plan and things are still extremely busy. The feedback on the healthcare chapter was very positive and we are now very excited to be working with the FDA and holding a joint meeting next Monday and Tuesday. The FCC has worked with the FDA for many years and we are looking forward to enhancing this co-ordination for future devices and applications.

The area of mobile health is a new and very innovative area within healthcare and holds the promise of both cost reduction and improved outcomes. Our goal is to clarify and delineate the respective areas of expertise and jurisdiction between the agencies. The meeting marks the beginning of a process through which the agencies will provide appropriate clarifications in the future based on the input gathered.

The response to the meeting has been tremendous with over 250 people signed up to attend including Julius Genachowski JD, chairman of the FCC and Margaret Hamburg MD, commissioner of the FDA, and Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer.  Over 20 of the most innovative companies in the space will be showcasing their solutions; everything from wireless medical technologies that can restore function in paralyzed limbs to technologies that can measure heart function anywhere and anytime including in a patient’s home.

There will also be a series of sessions, which will consist of presenters followed by round table discussions. I am also thrilled at the representation we have from numerous stakeholders within these sessions. Don Jones, Adam Darkins MD, Joe Smith MD PhD and Kaveh Safavi MD amongst many more will be providing their invaluable insights to the conversation. If you can't be there in person, watch online at

Broadband Key to Smarter Grids and Smarter Homes

July 21st, 2010 by Nick Sinai - Energy and Environment Director

I was honored to give the keynote at yesterday's Broadband breakfast, and took the opportunity to talk about how broadband plays an important role in smarter electric grids and smarter homes.  The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion where we discussed how IT and advanced communications has the potential to improve the grid for utilities and consumers alike.

Chapter 12 of the National Broadband Plan outlines our specific recommendations, which include two major themes on the Smart Grid:

  • Unleash energy innovation in homes by making energy data readily accessible to consumers.
  • Modernize the electric grid with broadband, making it more reliable and efficient.

Below is a video of the event:

Solving the Innovator's Dilemma: Turning Talk into Practical Results

July 20th, 2010 by Thomas Brown

I thought I'd draw everyone's attention to this op-ed  in last Friday's Washington Post by Blair Levin and Erik Garr, two former co-leaders of the team that developed the National Broadband Plan here at the FCC. The questions they raise are timely: Why are America's schools still using ink-on-paper textbooks, when digital technology offers a much better way? Why is our national discussion about broadband not focused on how to use those networks and completely rethink the delivery of key services?

Lately, we at the FCC have not just been thinking about these questions; we've also been acting to make increased innovation and investment in the broadband ecosystem a reality. In our FY 2011 E-Rate NPRM, adopted in May, we proposed rules that would make the E-rate program a more effective educational tool, spurring innovations that support teachers, parents, and students. These included a proposal to support online learning 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by allowing use of wireless Internet access service away from school premises.

And on July 26-27, the FCC and FDA will hold a joint public meeting to better understand the landscape of emerging wireless medical technologies and trends, and their potential benefits, risks and challenges from various stakeholder perspectives - patients, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and manufacturers. This collaboration will be a critical step in the development and approval of emerging wireless medical devices and applications that hold great promise for improving the quality of health care and reducing costs.

We closed the National Broadband Plan by describing the importance for America of "reducing talk" regarding broadband "into practical results." What do you think are the most important things the FCC can do to promote innovation and investment in health care, education, energy, public safety and other national purposes?

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