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Chairman Genachowski: The Clock is Ticking

Posted March 16th, 2011 by George Krebs

This morning Chairman Genachowski spoke on spectrum, consumers and America’s small businesses, delivering the keynote address as part of the Mobile Future Forum. He called attention to the growth of broadband in America, the looming spectrum crisis and our solution of voluntary, market-based incentive auctions to free up that spectrum. He emphasized that “we must act” to set the pace for 21st century technology and said, “there’s no other choice than for the U.S. to lead.”

Given the theme, the event was held at Voxiva, a mobile based information solutions firm recently named one of the most innovative companies in the world. Peter Rysavy of Rysavy Research released a report prior to the Chairman’s talk entitled The Spectrum Imperative: Mobile Broadband Spectrum and its impacts for U.S. Consumers and the Economy. Here's an excerpt from the Chairman's speech.

To some, it was a surprise that the Broadband Plan included major sections on mobile broadband.  At the time, many assumed that broadband was what you got when you connected your computer to the modem plugged into your wall.

…Mobile broadband is being adopted faster than any computing platform in history.  The number of smartphones and tablets being sold now exceeds the number of PCs.

The Mobile Future report released this morning puts a fine point on this.  According to their report, quote, “The clock is ticking, with rising demand rapidly closing the gap with existing supply.  The consequences of inaction are severe, widespread and wholly negative for consumers and the U.S. economy.”

The point deserves emphasis:  the clock is ticking on our mobile future. Demand for spectrum is rapidly outstripping supply.  The networks we have today won’t be able to handle consumer and business needs. 

Read the rest of the Chairman’s speech The Clock is Ticking.

Posted in Events Wireless Office Of Chairman Mobile Usf

Digital Learning in the 21st Century

Posted March 8th, 2011 by George Krebs

From Des Moines to Charlottesville school districts across the country are making sure there is a laptop in the hands of every high school student. California’s e-textbook initiative augurs the nationwide rise of digital course materials. Teachers now use web videos to reinforce the quadratic formula or impart a civics lesson. Technology is moving forward. Our classrooms and our curriculum need to catch up.

We’re joining with the New York City Department of Education tomorrow morning for an event on digital learning in the 21st century. We’ll speak on the promise of wireless and present a roundtable on the future of K – 12 education, as America begins to employ digital learning solutions. This includes the adoption of digital textbooks and the possibilities of wireless technology to enhance learning in the classroom. Wednesday’s event will explore both the benefits and the obstacles to this shift. The event will take place tomorrow, March 9 from 10:30am to 12:15pm at the NYC iSchool at 131 6th Avenue, at Dominick Street.

Sharing the stage with Chairman Genachowski at the roundtable is a handful of the nation’s standouts in education, from both the public and private sectors. This includes Sharon Greenberger, COO of the NYC Department of Education; Alisa Berger, Principal of NYC iSchool, our host; Matthew Small, Chief Business Officer at Blackbord; and other luminaries.

There’s no better school to debut this initiative and hold this roundtable than the NYC iSchool. The iSchool, which introduced its first class in September 2008, looks to set the bar for 21st century learning. The innovative high school incorporates cutting edge technology into students’ everyday learning and both its teachers and students make it a central part of their mission to harness these tools. To learn more about the NYC iSchool, check out this video.

Join us. If you’re in the New York City area tomorrow, the event is free and open to the public – though we’d appreciate your pre-registration. Send an email with your name, organization name (if applicable) and phone number to diglearning [at] fcc [dot] gov.

Posted in Events National Broadband Plan Parents

Report from CES: Your Connected Car

Posted January 14th, 2011 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

For years, a major topic at the Consumer Electronics Show has been the increasing sophistication of in-car electronics. Six-speaker sound systems and GPS mapping were only the beginning.  New cars today are often available with options that provide news, entertainment, communication, route planning, and safety – all enabled by wireless broadband.  Many auto manufacturers are pushing the envelope of car connectivity.  For instance, General Motors has the prototype EN-V – a tiny concept car that can use broadband to navigate itself and that comes when you call it from your smartphone.

At a standing-room-only session at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, attendees heard from a roster of companies that are now providing apps for cars. OnStar, a pioneer in the field, is growing its paid-subscription service to provide vehicle security and safety. Pandora, which millions of people already use for a personalized radio experience, is seeking to become as easy to use in your car as it is on your laptop or smartphone. Other companies are specializing in speech recognition, in-car systems integration, and other approaches to make a range of automotive conveniences seamless and safe.

As impressive and enjoyable as this technology can be, there’s a clear potential downside: Driver distraction. We’re still trying to figure out how to deal with the problem of texting and driving, a deadly trend that both government and industry are fighting together.  The Department of Transportation is leading the Federal effort, CTIA launched a teen safe driving initiative, and the FCC hosted a workshop and developed an information clearinghouse on distracted driving. Now these mitigation efforts are further complicated by the increasing range of electronic options that tempt drivers to take their eyes minds off the road.

The good news is that the auto industry is recognizing the risk, more openly than when these innovations were presented at CES a year ago. One auto executive on the apps-for-cars panel put it bluntly: “If we don’t do our job well in our space, we can introduce things that can kill people.” In a session on driver distraction and safety, CES brought together David Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, with experts who have monitored the behavior of drivers and the behavior of cars (a field called telematics) to analyze the problem and find solutions.

While this is still a controversial area, the speakers at CES generally agreed on a few key points that suggest the challenges that still lay in front of us. First, many believe that straightforward bans on texting while driving will not have the hoped-for effect. We have now become so used to living wired lives that it’s hard to give up connectivity in the car; as one speaker said, tongue in cheek, “driving is starting to get in the way of our social networking.” Second, it’s clear that broadband connectivity, with all the apps that it brings, is coming to most cars, and that consumers will increasingly demand it. And third, all this innovation must be managed safely for the good of consumers and of the industry itself. A wake-up call came last week when Consumer Reports denied its Recommended designation to two Ford vehicles because of their distracting voice-and-touchscreen systems.

Several major auto companies are putting their engineers to work to make their cars safe, as well as connected and entertaining. Ford is continually improving its Sync system, a popular option now available in all its vehicles, which uses voice commands to provide music, podcasts, and directions with hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The high-end Mercedes M-Brace system uses voice commands and telematics to provide phone connectivity, entertainment, and safety and security protections. Other automakers are taking similar approaches to the new world of car electronics.

All these advances will provide new options for car buyers – and new challenges for policymakers concerned about auto safety.  What do you look for in a car, and what are your views on safety and driver distraction? Please add a comment to let us know.

Posted in Events Wireless Consumers

Chairman Genachowski and FCC Staff Take In CES 2011

Posted January 10th, 2011 by George Krebs

Tablets and TVs; gadgets and tech-integrated vehicles; tech-enhanced musical instruments and heavily promoted headphones; innovative toys, energy efficient designs and wireless enabled products of all sorts. Sunday concluded a busy span of stunning technology pageantry in Las Vegas. Thousands of booths were set up and over 100,00 interested device enthusiasts arrived from all over the world for the Consumer Electronics Show , known more commonly as CES (or in this ever expanding, 140-character world, #CES).

Chairman Genachowski, all four Commissioners, and a retinue of FCC staff converged on the convention floor. They got a look at technology – from a wide range of companies – on the horizon and a sense of what’s upcoming in the innovation space. Many of the exhibits in sight shouted wireless and they shouted mobile.

On Friday, day two, the Chairman gave a speech on the need for expanded spectrum offerings and then sat down to chat with the host of the event, CEA CEO Gary Shapiro. This is what the Chairman said:

"As evidenced by the trade show floor, the consumer electronics industry is going wireless, and the future success of this industry and our innovation future depends on whether our government acts quickly to unleash more spectrum -- the oxygen that sustains our mobile devices. 

We’re in the early stages of a mobile revolution that is sparking an explosion in wireless traffic.  Without action, demand for spectrum will soon outstrip supply. 

To seize the opportunities of our mobile future, we need to tackle the threats to our invisible infrastructure.  We need to free up more spectrum."

Read the Chairman’s full speech.

As our team makes their way back to Washington, we’ll bring you their takes and some collected insights. For now, enjoy this video from the Washington Post, showing the Chairman touring the CES floor, speaking to the unbounded potential for job growth on display, and managing to get in a quick game of ping-pong using Microsoft’s Kinect.

(Cross posted on Blogband. Please leave comments there.)

Posted in Events FCC Staff Wireless National Broadband Plan Consumers Mobile
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Announcing Generation Mobile, Featuring Jane Lynch

Posted December 9th, 2010 by George Krebs

(Photo credit: LG Text Ed)

You can find them in the most innocent settings. The dinner table, the classroom, during evening homework hour or an otherwise quiet family walk. Clicking, clacking, beeping, buzzing and whirring. This maneuvering marauder? Mobile phones equipped with text messaging. These devices are exploding in use among the current generation and teens seem programmed to use them constantly.

A happy medium exists. Commonsense and responsible use of technology is within reach. To many parents the mobile culture is unfamiliar. We’re hosting a Generation Mobile forum next Tuesday bringing together teens, parents, educators and experts. During this event we’ll do our best to help parents navigate these challenging issues.

We’ll discuss cyberbullying, sexting, over use, privacy, and texting-while-driving. The Pew Internet and American Life project will present their findings from a landmark study, “Kids and Mobile Phones.”

For the Gleeks in the audience we’re pleased that actress and comedienne Jane Lynch, of LG’s Text Ed campaign, will be joining us remotely. Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes the book upon which the movie Mean Girls was based, will join FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in hosting the first panel “Generation Mobile Speaks” featuring teens, parents and educators. The second panel, “Ask the Experts About Generation Mobile” will feature experts from SafetyWeb, Facebook, Sprint and other major mobile and technology players. A full list of panelists and speakers is below.

This event is about you. We’ve lined up an impressive slate of experts for our sessions on kids, teens and mobile phones. What do you want to know when they take the stage Tuesday? We’ve filled in a couple of starter questions to stimulate ideas. Far more importantly we want to hear from you. Type in your question, wait for User Voice to generate and then click “Create New Idea” below the box. Ask your questions now.

We’re honored to be hosted by DC’s own, cutting edge McKinley Technology High School (151 T Street Northeast). The event will take place on Tuesday December 14th from 10am to 1pm ET. If you’re able to join us – free of charge – please RVSP to generationmobile [at] fcc [dot] gov. Since most of you are outside of the DC area we’ll be live streaming this exciting event online at fcc.gov/live. Participate through Twitter using #genmobile.

Stay tuned. We’ll post updates to the agenda and the speaker list as they become available.

Speakers and Panelists Include:

  • Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman
  • Jane Lynch, Emmy Winning Actress and Spokesperson for the LG Text Ed Council
  • Rosalind Wiseman, Author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, basis for Mean Girls the movie
  • Tim Sparapani, Director of Public Policy, Facebook
  • Parry Aftab, Kids Technology Expert and Creator of Stopcyberbullying.org
  • Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Research Center
  • Marsali Hancock, President, Internet Keep Safe Coalition
  • Michael Clark, Co-Founder, SafetyWeb
  • Dr. Michael Levine, Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center
  • Maureen Cooney, Privacy Officer, Sprint
  • Stephen Balkam, CEO, Family Online Safety Institute
  • K. Dane Snowden, Vice President, CTIA
  • Alan Simpson, Vice President, Common Sense Media
  • Lanita Preston, Author and mother of Frank Preston
  • Stacey A. Kopnitsky, Assistant Principal, Cabin John Middle School
  • Dwan Jordon, Principal, Sousa Middle School, Washington, DC
  • And we’ll hear from a panel of teens about how they use mobile technology

Update 12/13 1:26pm ET: Final Agenda for Generation Mobile Program

10:00 a.m.       Welcome, Opening Remarks, Live Chat with Jane Lynch

  • Welcome by David Pinder, Principal, McKinley Technology High School
  • Remarks by Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC
  • Live Video Chat with Actress Jane Lynch, LG Text Ed Council 
  • Presentation by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Researcher, Pew Internet Project

10:40 a.m.       Panel I:  Generation Mobile Speaks

  • Rosalind Wiseman, Author and Teen Expert, Member LG Text Ed Council
  • Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC


  • Tori Dugger, Senior, McKinley Technology High School
  • Jonathan Harris II, Senior, Dr. Henry A. Wise High School, Upper Marlboro, Md.
  • Erin Maines, Sophomore, Falls Church High School, Falls Church, Va.
  • Frank Preston, Junior, Howard High School, Ellicott City, Md.
  • Lanita Preston, Author and Mother of Frank Preston
  • Stacey A. Kopnitsky, Assistant Principal, Cabin John Middle School, Rockville, Md.
  • Parry Aftab, Executive Director, WiredSafety.org
  • Dwan Jordon, Principal, Sousa Middle School, Washington, D.C.

11:40 a.m.       Panel II: Ask the Experts About Generation Mobile

  • Josh Gottheimer, Senior Counselor to the Chairman, FCC


  • Marsali Hancock, President, Internet Keep Safe Coalition
  • Dr. Michael Levine, Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center 
  • Maureen Cooney, Privacy Officer, Sprint 
  • Michael Clark, Co-Founder, SafetyWeb
  • Dane Snowden, Vice President, External & State Affairs, CTIA
  • Tim Sparapani, Director of Public Policy, Facebook
  • Alan Simpson, Vice President for Policy, Common Sense Media
  • Stephen Balkam, CEO, Family Online Safety Institute

1:00 p.m.         Program Concludes

(Cross posted on Blogband.)

Posted in Events Consumers Office Of Chairman Parents Mobile

9-1-1's Next Frontier

Posted November 23rd, 2010 by George Krebs

This morning Chairman Genachowski, Public Safety Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett and a collection of FCC staff visited a state-of-the-art response facility at the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center in Arlington, Virginia. Following the vision laid out in the National Broadband Plan, the event marks the announcement of steps to revolutionize America’s 9-1-1 system by harnessing the potential of text, photo, and video in emergencies.

Our communications needs are increasingly reliant on mobile devices. In fact, 70% of 9-1-1 calls originate from mobile phones and users rely regularly on texts and multimedia messages. While a subsequent evolution of our 9-1-1 system seems a natural -- and obvious -- step for digitally aware citizen, our current 9-1-1 system doesn’t utilize the superb, possibly life-saving potential within our existing mobile devices. With videos, pictures, texts -- and other untold mobile innovations surely on the horrizon -- next-generation 9-1-1 will position public safety officials a step ahead with critical real-time, on-the-ground information.

After a tour of the high-tech operations room, Chairman Genachowski and Admiral Barnett spoke to the promise of next-generation 9-1-1. Here's an excerpt from Chairman Genachowski's speech.

"Even though mobile phones are the device of choice for most 9-1-1 callers, and we primarily use our phones to text, right now, you can’t text 9-1-1. Let me reiterate that point. If you find yourself in an emergency situation and want to send a text for help, you can pretty much text anyone EXCEPT a 9-1-1 call center.

"...It’s time to bring 9-1-1 into the digital age."

Read the rest of the Chairmans’s speech, view more photos and see the benefits of Next Generation 9-1-1 after the jump.

(This is cross-posted on Blogband. Please leave comments there.)

Posted in Events Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau National Broadband Plan Office Of Chairman

Highlights of the Spectrum Summit

Posted November 18th, 2010 by Anousone Muongpack - New Media

In late October, the FCC held a spectrum summit, bringing together creative thinkers to solve the looming spectrum crunch and ensure enough airwaves are available for Americans’ growing appetite for mobile broadband.  Key players in industry, government, academia, and the investment community offered their take on the spectrum crunch and how to solve it.  While the summit in its entirety has been available online for some time, we also put together some highlights from the event in a brief trailer, which we are making available today. Enjoy!


Posted in Events
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Our Innovation Infrastructure: Opportunities and Challenges

Posted November 15th, 2010 by George Krebs

Earlier today, Chairman Genachowski spoke at the annaul meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Atlanta. In concert with the conference's "Keeping the Focus" theme, the Chairman spoke to the primary focus of the FCC: the economy and jobs. We're serving this mission through harnessing the opportunities of communications technology and putting an emphasis on innovation.

Read Chairman Genachowski's full speech.

(This is cross-posted on Blogband. Please leave comments there.)

Posted in Events National Broadband Plan Office Of Chairman
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Wrapping up Open Developer Day

Posted November 12th, 2010 by Greg Elin - Chief Data Officer

On Monday, November 11, the FCC successfully held (we think) a first-of-its-kind event in the U.S. federal government! 

FCC Open Developer Day attracted about 100 web developers and other technology professionals to our headquarters building in Washington. We spent a day learning about open data sets and APIs, brainstorming together about how they could be combined to benefit citizens with new apps, and starting coding projects toward those goals.

One focus of FCC Open Developer Day was accessible technology. By facilitating the use of fully-accessible technologies - in line with the FCC’s support for our Accessibility and Innovation Initiative - the FCC is promoting innovation and collaborative problem-solving in the field. One exciting fact: FCC Open Developer Day marked the first time many developers in attendance sat and chatted as a group with others using assistive technologies.

The most valuable take-away from this first foray was the opportunity to build the FCC developer community. The momentum from this event will hopefully help bring the popular activity of Developer Day and "hack-a-thons" to the a federal agency. We were grateful, and a bit surprised, at the number of people who came in from out of town to this event.  It was incredibly exciting to the see the Commission Meeting Room, usually set up for formal hearings and presentations, organized in tables for eight people and laptops plugged into power strips.

Here are some cool things we got from having the event:

One day is too short to get much hacking done, so we are planning to do more developer days to make them a regular activity at the FCC.

P.S. Eager to participate in a gov-related developer day? December 4 is International Open Data Hackathon. FCC will be there. Will you?

(This is cross-posted on Blogband. Please leave your comments there.)

Posted in Reform - Redesign Events Open Government Data Developer Api Accessibility
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Open Developer Day’s First Chapter

Posted November 9th, 2010 by Steven VanRoekel - Managing Director, Federal Communications Commission

In a packed Commission Meeting Room on Monday, a coalition of tech developers and accessibility advocates made FCC history.

By organizing and hosting the FCC’s first Open Developer Day – one of the first of its kind in the federal government, and the first hosted at a federal HQ – the Commission took another big step towards realizing the full potential of the broad community of folks that FCC data and FCC tools have the potential to impact.

The success of the event proved that citizen developers are eager to engage in open collaboration with the FCC to find innovative uses for government data. Cooperative efforts like this help find efficiencies for users, open the door to new economic and creative opportunities, and stretch the value of the .gov dollar in ways we’re continuing to explore.

Open Developer Day also highlighted the ways that FCC initiatives can create efficiencies across the landscape of other government agencies – a pillar of the Gov 2.0 approach. The long-term success of these methods depends on agencies’ ability to cultivate an active community. I think this event shows us that we’ve made a great start, and we’re learning how we continue to improve on the steps we’ve taken so far.

Our own wrap up of Open Developer Day is coming, but I wanted to share this great video interview shot in our new, soon-to-be-released FCC TEC lab. O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard sat down with Gina Trapani – a Developer Day veteran herself – to talk about the take-aways from the event. If you attended in person, watched via the livestream, or participated on the #fccdevday hashtag, leave your thoughts in the comments below. Tell us what you thought worked well, or pass on your ideas for the next FCC Open Developer Day for us to read.

Posted in Events Open Government Reform - Data Office Of Managing Director Data Developer Api
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