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Reducing Barriers for Small and Minority-Owned Businesses

Posted March 17th, 2011 by Gilberto Dejesus

The business and technology landscapes can change quickly. Every three years, the FCC fulfills its Congressionally-mandated review that identifies and eliminates unnecessary rules that no longer benefit the businesses we work with.

This review also helps the commission promote policies that favor a diversity of media voices, vigorous economic competition, and technological advancement. 

Section 257 of the Communications Act of 1934 (Communications Act) requires that the FCC review and report to Congress every three years on the Commission’s (1) efforts to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers to entrepreneurs and small businesses and (2) and identify and provide proposals to eliminate unnecessary statutory barriers to market entry by those businesses.

In this 2009 Section 257 Report to Congress (2009 Report), the Commission examines regulatory actions taken to reduce market entry barriers by each rule-writing Bureau and Office within the Commission since the last triennial report.  Further, in the 2009 Report, we also make recommendations for legislative action to reduce statutory barriers to market entry. 

In addition, as our mandate requires, we also identify other barriers which, if not addressed, have the potential to limit market entry by entrepreneurs and other small businesses.  One such barrier is a general lack of data on minority participation, which could inform decisions and help the Commission gauge the effectiveness of its actions on an ongoing basis.  Another barrier is a lack of outreach to the very parties who could benefit from agency actions.  While the actions described in this report do not curtail these barriers, it is important to recognize them so that they may be addressed in the future. 

The Commission fully recognizes the role that small communications businesses play in a robust American economy.  Our efforts, as detailed in this 2009 Report, evidence the Commission’s commitment to identifying and reducing or eliminating barriers that would impede the growth of such a vital sector of the industry and the economy.  This 2009 Report contains information from each Bureau and Office that either conducts substantive rulemakings relevant to small businesses or that is directly engaged in advocating for regulatory policies, rules and regulations to support small businesses. 

However, as Chairman Genachowski noted in his statement accompanying the 2009 Report:

As important as the 257 Report is, encouraging a diversity of voices, promoting entrepreneurship and fostering the growth of small businesses aren’t just things we think about once every three years when it comes time to assemble a report. They are core principles shaping our strategic direction every day.

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Public Service Recognition Week

Posted March 10th, 2011 by Kelli Farmer - Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is a great time to educate the public about what we as government employees do, why we do it and how well we do it.  The main goals of PSRW are to:

  • Educate citizens nationwide about the many ways in which government serves the American people
  • Improve the perception and confidence of government workers and other public servants, and
  • Inspire a new generation of public servants

In past years, the FCC, with the help our dynamic Consumer Affairs & Outreach Division in our Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau has held exhibits on the National Mall alongside various branches of the military, other government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private companies showcasing the quality work done by public employees.

Due to a lack of funding, no doubt a symptom of the current financial hardship our country is experiencing, there will not be a major event held on the National Mall this year.  However, the effort to honor and highlight our dedicated, hard-working public servants won’t be diminished.  Instead, individual agencies are encouraged to hold events onsite for PSRW.

A variety of activities have been offered in the past in light of PSRW, such as:

  • Job Shadowing --which offers opportunities for young people to personally connect with and “shadow” representatives from various agencies throughout the city, inspiring future employees.
  • Jobs Day --a great opportunity for various agency representatives to talk about the types of careers offered by their agencies and what job openings they may have available at that time.

This year, PSRW will feature a Public Servant Day with the Washington Nationals.   The partnership will offer discounted tickets, which will include admission to a pre-game celebration, for the afternoon game on Sunday, May 1.  Also, the partnership has launched a video contest as part of PSRW.  The contest encourages students, government employees and others to participate by creating a short video illustrating the value of government employees and/or what our nation would look like without us.  
The partnership wants contestants to consider the essential services carried out daily by government employees on behalf of the American people and what would happen if we as public servants simply disappeared.

PSRW is a week that allows us to show exactly how hard we work for the American people and how government services make life better for all of us.
We’ll keep you posted on the specific events the FCC will be hosting to honor PSRW.

I hope you can join us for any and all events associated during this special week.

For more information about how you or your organization can participate in Public Service Recognition Week, call (202) 775-9111 or e-mail psrw [at] ourpublicservice [dot] org. Complete program details are also available at PSRW.org.

Posted in FCC Staff Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
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FCC Hosts Two from Wounded Warrior Program

Posted February 1st, 2011 by Jamie Barnett - Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

The Wounded Warrior Program is an internship program developed by the Department of Defense for injured service members who are convalescing at military treatment facilities in the National Capitol Region. The program provides meaningful activity outside of the hospital environment and offers a formal means of transition back to the military or civilian workforce. Placing these service members in supportive work settings that positively impact their recuperation is the underlying purpose of the program.

The Wounded Warrior Program is a great opportunity for convalescing service members to build their resumes, explore employment interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable federal government work experience that will help them prepare for their adjustment to the workplace. The Department of Defense Computer/Electronics Accommodation Program provides for participating service members on assignment to federal agencies. This includes electronic equipment, transportation, sign language interpreter services, and other services they require.

I’m honored to report that the Federal Communications Commission has continuously participated in the Wounded Warrior Program since July 2008. Today, the Commission has two service members serving as emergency management interns with our Public Safety team while continuing their recuperation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Sergeant Lyndon Sampang, an Army veteran of eight years, was severely wounded on March 18, 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne. Prior to his assignment to Afghanistan, Sgt Sampang had completed a tour of duty in Iraq. Sgt Sampang began his internship with us on December 7, 2010.
Staff Sergeant Thomas Kowolenko, a veteran of 17 years, is a member of the Connecticut National Guard and was injured while on a training assignment at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. SSgt Kowolenko has worked as a Network Deployment Technician for AT&T since 1987 and is also a certified firefighter. SSgt Kowolenko began his internship with us on January 3, 2011.

We’re honored to have both of these extraordinary service members working with us and are grateful for their service. We’ll keep you updated on the program and their work here.

Posted in FCC Staff Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
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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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Supporting Stability in the Online Marketplace

Posted December 13th, 2010 by Dan McSwain

Internet businesses need stability to thrive. That’s the message that emerged from a meeting held here at the FCC last week between Chairman Genachowski and CALinnovates, a group of start-ups and young businesses that are creating jobs and introducing new technology products into the online marketplace.

A resolution to the Open Internet proceeding that preserves the foundational principles of the medium is fundamental to helping new businesses grow. Watch the latest installation in our FCC Tech Cast series -- a round of interviews with the entrepreneurs themselves -- to get their first-hand take on the urgent need for action on this issue.

Posted in FCC Staff

The FCC and First Year of Open Government

Posted December 7th, 2010 by Steven VanRoekel - Managing Director, Federal Communications Commission

In the modern federal landscape, the FCC finds itself increasingly at the intersection of technology, law, and citizen participation. It’s a challenging place to be -- these arenas change quickly, and move in ways that advancements in one ripple out and can change the others. But the opportunity to make progress on these fronts has never been greater.

Modernizing the rulemaking process -- keeping up with these changes to best serve the American public -- was the focus of an event hosted by the Brookings Institute last week. As an invited member of the Digitization – Past, Present, and Short-Term Future panel , I spoke about two key benefits that new technology offers to the rulemaking process.

First, erulemaking can make government work smarter. Moving from a largely paper-based system -- the norm very recently -- to a digital system has led to a rulemaking process that’s accessible, searchable and less weighed down by troves of paperwork.

Second, moving rulemaking online has allowed the FCC to open a process that was closed for too long. Traditionally, access to rulemaking required access to the expert legal mechanisms typically out of the reach of most citizens, yet the rules we are creating are created for all and often impact people who don’t have access to legal support. We’ve made strides on this front - You may be familiar with our online comment crowdsourcing platforms, the ability to integrate blog comments into the public record, and our other moves to make the FCC process as open as possible – there’s more to come.

Something most people don’t know: the FCC is also developing ways to help citizens that lack access to the Internet participate in rulemakings remotely via voicemail, powered by increasingly accurate speech-to-text technologies. It’s another way that the spirit of open government is pushing us to tinker with the process, open up closed structures, and empower citizen experts to meaningfully engage with rulemaking.

With the help of open technologies, agencies like the FCC increasingly find themselves as repositories of valuable insight generated by citizen experts. New technology makes that information available as data outputs that are easily shared, syndicated, and mashed-up against other data sets. As part of our team’s effort to reimagine a new FCC.gov, we’re revamping the Electronic Comment Filing System that allows for bulk download, RSS subscription to particular rulemakings, and infusing our own processes more with the web services model that’s ubiquitous in the modern Internet.

An open and participatory FCC is in line with the spirit of President Obama’s Open Government Directive -- passed one year ago today -- that is creating a more open, transparent, and participatory government.

On this anniversary, we think it is worth looking back and compiling the agency’s open government accomplishments. Take a look, then add your voice in the comments and help us continue improving the FCC’s rulemaking process.

Posted in Reform - Redesign FCC Staff Open Government Spectrum Dashboard Reform - Rules And Processes Reform - Data Office Of Managing Director Data Developer Api Accessibility

Pam Gregory and Jamal Mazrui to Lead Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

Posted October 15th, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

By Joel Gurin and Karen Peltz Strauss

We are very pleased to announce that Pam Gregory will be the Director, and Jamal Mazrui will be the Deputy Director, of the Commission’s new Accessibility and Innovation Initiative. Chairman Genachowski launched the initiative at a joint White House/ FCC/Department of Commerce event in July, consistent with a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan.

The mission of the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is to promote collaborative problem-solving among stakeholders to ensure that people with disabilities reap the full benefits of communications technology. We will use many tools to achieve this objective, including the Chairman’s Award, Accessibility and Innovation challenges, workshops, field events, facilitated dialogues, and online tools such as a problem solving commons and a clearinghouse.

We have or will be launching soon accessibility challenges to developers, industry, and students related to accessible wireless apps, cloud computing and cognitive disabilities, web 2.0 accessibility, and geo-location accessibility, as Chairman Genachowski mentioned in his July 19, 2010 speech. In the near future, we will be providing more details on the Chairman’s Award for Advancements in Accessibility as well as other upcoming events.

We are thrilled that Pam has agreed to lead the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative. Pam has been working on disability issues at the FCC since 1996 and was the first chief of the Disability Rights Office. You can contact Pam at Pam.Gregory@fcc.gov.

We are equally thrilled that Jamal Mazrui will be providing leadership to the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative. Jamal has been working as a technology specialist and on disability issues at the Commission since 1999.

We would also like to thank Elizabeth Lyle for her leadership in helping to establish the A&I Initiative. We are happy that she will continue to work with us on these issues, as she takes on new responsibilities as the Special Counsel for Innovation in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

(Cross-posted at Blogband. To comment, please click here.)

Posted in FCC Staff
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A Discussion with WTOP on Consumer Telephone Issues

Posted September 13th, 2010 by Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa

On September 9, 2010, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Shirley Rooker, Director and Consumer Reporter for the ‘Call For Action’ program, at the WTOP studios. The segment aired on WFED (1500 AM) on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 10:30pm but if you missed it you can listen to the segment on the left side of their website under Of Consuming Interest.  The interview was a great forum to provide an overview of and consumer tips on Lifeline Link-Up, bill shock and early termination fees.

The first topic discussed was Lifeline Link-Up. For eligible consumers, Lifeline provides a monthly discount on basic local telephone service.  Some consumers may also be eligible for Link-up - a one-time assistance that pays for part of the consumer’s connection or activation charge for new phone service.  Consumers might not be aware that they qualify for this assistance. Since eligibility requirements for these programs vary by state, consumers should contact their local telephone service provider or public utilities company for more information on these requirements.  A consumer can always visit www.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL FCC for assistance.

Next, we discussed bill shock – the result of a sudden, unexpected increase in monthly mobile service bills. Bill shock can occur because of misunderstood advertising, unanticipated roaming, or data charges. Among the tips I provided are:

  • Understand your calling pattern. By discussing your pattern with your service provider, the carrier may be able to provide a plan that meets your needs.
  • Consider a prepaid phone if you have a low usage pattern of calls.
  • Understand your roaming charges and confirm that your phone’s screen indicates when you are roaming.

The last topic covered was early termination fees (ETF). We discussed ways to avoid ETF:  

  • Before signing the contract for a new service, ask the salesperson what the ETF will be and/or how it is prorated. 
  • Consider purchasing the handset device at full price. 
  • Ask for a trial period that allows cancelling the service without any penalties and/or ETF.

As the show was ending, we briefly touched upon tips for getting the broadband speed you need (ask about the contract and fees) and the various ways consumers can file an informal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

I enjoyed this opportunity to raise awareness on these topics and share the FCC’s tips that help empower consumers.

Posted in FCC Staff Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumers

Women’s History Month Profile: Eloise Gore

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by Page Schindler Buchanan

Since we began this blog we have been highlighting FCC staff in a series of profiles.  As March is Women’s History Month, we will be focusing on some of our female colleagues and talking to them about their experiences as professionals, and as women, working in public service at the FCC.

Eloise Gore, Associate Bureau Chief, Media Bureu
Years at FCC: 13

Eloise Gore considers herself lucky.  Beginning her career with the federal government as an intern in 1978, she benefitted from both the barrier-breaking women of the generation before her and the government’s early efforts at diversity.  As an attorney, first for the Federal Trade Commission, then the Commerce Department, and here at the FCC for the past 13 years, she recalls sitting across the table from attorneys in the private sector that at times were all white men.

In those years, in the middle-late seventies, the government was one of the places that women could go, because the government was much more accepting of women, as attorneys, as other kinds of professionals, than the private sector was… so it would be frequently the case that those of us who were in the government would be in negotiations with outside law firms and they would be all these men in suits.  And we were the only ones that had women.

She is proud of the way that women, and men, are given the opportunity to thrive here at the FCC, especially with regard to balancing their families with career.

Women who want to have families, who want to have children, are very supported particularly by the government.  Again that was something that the government did first:  to allow women a chance to go and be a mother and have day care so that they could come back and have their children near them.


One of those women is one that she noted as being one she most admires.

My immediate past boss, Monica Desai, who was the head of the media bureau during the DTV transition and she is really the exemplar of the kind of woman who can juggle having not only children, but two rather young children… she managed to pack 48 hours in a 24 hour day.  I don’t know how she did it.  And she remained calm, and nice, and pleasant, and supportive to us and to her staff.

Of course, she also admires her mother, Gerry Gore, a former advertising professional who at 90 is an active volunteer, zipping around New York City in her sports car.

I never felt that there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a girl/a lady/a woman.  You know, I always felt like everything was possible.  And I think that it’s very good to be able to convey that and I really do see that with the women – the young women and the older women – around me.

Her story is a great example of how far women have come since the FCC was founded in 1934. "I think that the government has been good for women, and women have been good for the government."

Posted in FCC Staff Office Of Managing Director
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Highlighting the staff of the FCC...

Posted January 28th, 2010 by David Fiske - Director, Office of Media Relations

The vast majority of Commission staff serve the American public each day “behind the scenes.”  Sharon Hurd, a Media Relations Specialist in the Commission’s Office of Media Relations (OMR), is one such staffer.  If you subscribe to the FCC “Daily Digest”, or are interested in information about Commission actions, the chances are pretty good that Sharon may have been involved in helping to get this information to you on a timely basis. And last spring, you could even have met her personally when she traveled around the country as part of the FCC team meeting with consumers to help with the transition to digital television.  

OMR is the arm of the agency responsible for overseeing the release of official FCC actions and decisions. Ask any agency staff member who they turn to in OMR when they need assistance in getting items released and you can be sure Sharon’s name will be high on that list. These items include a wide variety of documents from high profile policy decisions and Chairman and Commissioner speeches to routine license renewal notices. But Sharon – and the entire OMR team – know that there are a lot of consumers and interested parties who are waiting to learn about these decisions, and they work hard to help get this information out expeditiously.  

Do you subscribe to the FCC’s Daily Digest?  If not, you should check it out.  The Digest provides over 10,000 subscribers across the world with a brief daily synopsis (with hyper links) of all Commission orders, news releases, speeches, public notices, press releases and other FCC documents released each business day.  Sharon is one of OMR’s editors of this widely used summary and document source, and she works to finalize it each day in a timely manner.

Last year Sharon volunteered to be a DTV outreach coordinator and traveled to states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to help educate America’s consumers about the digital television transition.  A February 2009 article in Wheeling, West Virginia’s Intelligencer newspaper highlighted Sharon and fellow Commission employee Sandy Haase’s DTV efforts.

This summer she’ll serve the public yet again by doing outreach in another vital way -- locating households and conducting brief interviews as a census taker for the 2010 Census.  Sharon worked on the year 2000 census so she knows what to expect. “Census volunteers play an important role in making sure everyone in this country is counted,” Sharon said.  “I really do find it rewarding to explain to the people that everyone’s voice counts and they need to complete their census forms.”

Sharon joined the agency in 1982 and worked in the Labor Relations Office and Complaint and Inquiries Branch before joining the Office of Media Relations. Sharon is a resident of Waldorf, Maryland and has a son.

She said, “I enjoy my job. I feel like I am doing my part by helping consumers, businesses and even other governments agencies get the communications information they need in a quick and efficient way.”

Serving consumers is what the FCC is all about, and we couldn’t do it without the dedication, commitment and hard work of consumer specialists like Sharon Hurd.

Posted in FCC Staff Office Of Media Relations