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FCC Launches Broad Rulemaking to Protect and Promote the Open Internet

May 15, 2014 Comments off

FCC Launches Broad Rulemaking to Protect and Promote the Open Internet
Source: Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission today launched a rulemaking seeking public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today poses a broad range of questions to elicit the broadest range of input from everyone impacted by the Internet, from consumers and small businesses to providers and start-ups. The Internet is America’s most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. The Internet has become an essential tool for Americans and for the growth of American businesses. That’s because the Internet has been open to new content, new products and new services, enabling consumers to choose whatever legal content, services and applications they desire.

The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness. But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit Internet openness. That is why the Notice adopted by the FCC todays starts with a fundamental question: “What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?”

See also: Fact Sheet
See also: Blog post

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New From the GAO

March 28, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Spectrum Management: FCC’s Use and Enforcement of Buildout Requirements. GAO-14-236, February 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-236
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661154.pdf

2. DHS Asset Forfeiture: Additional Actions Could Help Strengthen Controls over Equitable Sharing. GAO-14-318, March 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-318
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662079.pdf

Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Almost a month into my new job, the fact that I’ve always been a “network guy” and an intrepid history buff should come as no surprise. Reading history has reinforced the central importance networks play and revealed the common themes in successive periods of network-driven change. Now, at the FCC, I find myself joining my colleagues in a position of both responsibility and authority over how the public is affected by and interfaces with the networks that connect us.

Prior to my appointment by President Obama, I was doing research for a book about the history of networks. The new job stopped that project. However, I believe strongly that our future is informed by our past. While awaiting Senate confirmation, I tried to distill the project on which I had been working to connect what I had learned in my research to the challenges in my new job.

The result is a short, free eBook, “Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities”. It’s a look at the history of three network revolutions – the printing press, the railroad, and the telegraph and telephony – and how the fourth network revolution – digital communications – will be informed by those experiences.

CRS — The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape

November 26, 2013 Comments off

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency with its five members appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act) and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to ensure that the American people have available—at reasonable cost and without discrimination—rapid, efficient, nation- and world-wide communication services, whether by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable.

Although the FCC has restructured over the past few years to better reflect the industry, it is still required to adhere to the statutory requirements of its governing legislation, the Communications Act of 1934. The 1934 Act requires the FCC to regulate the various industry sectors differently. Some policymakers have been critical of the FCC and the manner in which it regulates various sectors of the telecommunications industry—telephone, cable television, radio and television broadcasting, and some aspects of the Internet. These policymakers, including some in Congress, have long called for varying degrees and types of reform to the FCC. Most proposals fall into two categories: (1) procedural changes made within the FCC or through congressional action that would affect the agency’s operations or (2) substantive policy changes requiring congressional action that would affect how the agency regulates different services and industry sectors. Nine bills have been introduced during the 112th Congress that would change the operation of the FCC.

For FY2014, the FCC has requested a budget of $359,299,000. The FCC’s budget is derived from regulatory fees collected by the agency rather than through a direct appropriation. The fees, often referred to as “Section (9) fees,” are collected from license holders and certain other entities (e.g., cable television systems) and deposited into an FCC account. The law gives the FCC authority to review the regulatory fees and to adjust the fees to reflect changes in its appropriation from year to year. It may also add, delete, or reclassify services under certain circumstances.

CRS — The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape

August 13, 2013 Comments off

The Federal Communications Commission: Current Structure and Its Role in the Changing Telecommunications Landscape (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent federal agency with its five members appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 (1934 Act) and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The mission of the FCC is to ensure that the American people have available—at reasonable cost and without discrimination—rapid, efficient, nation- and world-wide communication services, whether by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable.

Although the FCC has restructured over the past few years to better reflect the industry, it is still required to adhere to the statutory requirements of its governing legislation, the Communications Act of 1934. The 1934 Act requires the FCC to regulate the various industry sectors differently. Some policymakers have been critical of the FCC and the manner in which it regulates various sectors of the telecommunications industry—telephone, cable television, radio and television broadcasting, and some aspects of the Internet. These policymakers, including some in Congress, have long called for varying degrees and types of reform to the FCC. Most proposals fall into two categories: (1) procedural changes made within the FCC or through congressional action that would affect the agency’s operations or (2) substantive policy changes requiring congressional action that would affect how the agency regulates different services and industry sectors. Nine bills have been introduced during the 112th Congress that would change the operation of the FCC.

For FY2014, the FCC has requested a budget of $359,299,000. The FCC’s budget is derived from regulatory fees collected by the agency rather than through a direct appropriation. The fees, often referred to as “Section (9) fees,” are collected from license holders and certain other entities (e.g., cable television systems) and deposited into an FCC account. The law gives the FCC authority to review the regulatory fees and to adjust the fees to reflect changes in its appropriation from year to year. It may also add, delete, or reclassify services under certain circumstances.

In the 113th Congress, three hearings have been held on FCC oversight, reform, and management and four bills have been introduced that would affect the manner in which the FCC conducts its business.

FCC Launches Modernization of E-Rate Program to Deliver Students & Teachers Access to High-Capacity Broadband Nationwide

July 22, 2013 Comments off

FCC Launches Modernization of E-Rate Program to Deliver Students & Teachers Access to High-Capacity Broadband Nationwide
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Today, the Federal Communications Commission initiated a thorough review and modernization of the E-rate program built around three goals: increased broadband capacity, cost- effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration.

E-rate was established in 1997 and represents the federal government’s largest education technology program. When Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, only 14 percent of classrooms had Internet; today it’s near 100%. To date, the E-rate program has successfully connected virtually all U.S. schools and libraries (97% of U.S. classrooms) to the Internet.

Over the past 15 years, support provided by the E-rate program has helped revolutionize schools’ and libraries’ access to modern communications networks, but the needs of schools and libraries are changing. In schools, high speed broadband access means an increasingly interactive and individualized learning environment and expands school boundaries through distance learning applications. In libraries, high- speed broadband access provides patrons the ability to apply for jobs; interact with federal, state, local, and Tribal government agencies; engage in life-long learning; and stay in touch with friends and family. The Commission’s initiative today marks the first comprehensive update of the E-rate program since 1997. According to a 2010 survey of E-rate applicants, half had slower connection speeds than the average American home and 39% cited cost of service as the greatest barrier to better meeting their needs And according to a recent American Library Association survey, one quarter of libraries still have broadband speeds of 1.5 Mbps or less, and only 9 percent of libraries have speeds of 100 Mbps or greater. In light of these findings, there is growing consensus that E-rate needs to be updated and revitalized with a renewed focus on ensuring that all schools and libraries have affordable access to high-capacity broadband.

To meet the needs of today’s students, teachers, and library patrons the Commission sets forth three proposed goals to modernize the E-rate program and seeks comment on options to advance these goals: Increased Broadband Capacity: To ensure schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st century broadband, the Commission seeks comment on a range of proposals to focus funds on supporting high-capacity broadband, including: simplifying rules on fiber deployment to lower barriers to new construction; prioritizing funding for new fiber deployments that will drive higher speeds and long-term efficiency; phasing out support for services like paging and directory assistance; ensuring that schools and libraries can access funding for modern high-speed Wi-Fi networks in classrooms and library buildings; and allocating funding on a simplified, per-student basis.

Hat tip: PW

FCC Releases Third “Measuring Broadband America” Report

February 15, 2013 Comments off

FCC Releases Third "Measuring Broadband America" Report

Source: Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission today released the results of its ongoing, nationwide performance study of residential broadband service in its third “Measuring Broadband America” report. The report continues the Commission’s efforts towards bringing greater clarity and competition to the home broadband services marketplace. This year’s report reveals that most broadband providers continue to improve service performance by delivering actual speeds that meet – or exceed – advertised speeds during the past year and that consumers are subscribing to faster speed tiers and receiving faster speeds than ever before.

The FCC released the first Measuring Broadband America Report in August 2011. That report covered data collected in March 2011 and found that most broadband providers who participated in the study were providing over 80 percent of advertised speeds during peak usage periods. The FCC’s second report, released July 2012, included data collected from participating broadband providers in April 2012, and found that ISPs on average delivered 96 percent of advertised download speed during peak usage period. Specifically, this year’s report indicates three key areas of improvement.

First, most broadband providers continue to closely meet or exceed the speeds they advertise. In the time period measured for the August 2011 report, the average broadband provider delivered 87 percent of advertised download speed during times when bandwidth demand was at its peak. During the time period measured for the July 2012 report, that number rose to 96 percent. In this year’s report, ISPs maintained their performance levels, delivering 97 percent of advertised speeds during peak periods. One provider significantly improved actual performance speeds by 13 percent from the previous report. FCC analysis indicates that the improvements of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in meeting their advertised speeds were largely driven by improvements in network performance, and not downward adjustments to the speed tiers offered.

Second, consumers of broadband providers covered by the report are continuing to migrate to faster speed tiers and receiving faster speeds than ever before. The FCC found that the average speed tier subscribed to by consumers increased from 14.3 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 15.6 Mbps. Nearly half of consumers who subscribed to speeds of less than 1 Mbps six months ago have adopted higher speeds, and nearly a quarter of the users who subscribed to speeds between 1 Mbps and 3 Mbps have upgraded to faster speed tiers.

Third, significant improvements have been made to satellite broadband technology service quality. For the first time, the report includes results on satellite technology based on test results from ViaSat, a major satellite services provider. Although satellite technology has the highest overall latency, test results indicate that during peak periods, 90 percent of satellite consumers received 140 percent or better of the advertised speed of 12 Mbps. In addition, there was very little difference between peak and non-peak performance.

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