Federal Communications Commission

Access to the Underserved: Keeping Up with the Times

  • As currently structured, E-Rate in past years has only been able to support Wi-Fi in 5% of schools and 1% of libraries. In 2013, no money was available for Wi-Fi. I am circulating an E-Rate Modernization Order for consideration at our July meeting that will close this Wi-Fi gap and provide more support for high-capacity wireless broadband for every school and library in America. By acting now, we can deliver digital learning benefits to 10 million students in the next funding year, compared to 4 million students under the status quo.
  • While we need to upgrade the connectivity of our schools and libraries, too many parts of rural America lack broadband connectivity altogether. This is in stark contrast to urban and suburban America, where many consumers have access to broadband at speeds in the hundreds of megabits per second. The simple fact of the matter is that the free market has failed to provide basic broadband connectivity to more than 15 million Americans. While we have already take steps to close the gap, there’s more work to be done. The proposed Order will fund a limited number of trials of alternative approaches to solving this problem using the Connect America Fund (CAF).
  • A third area where the Commission is poised to act to enhance access for the underserved is with closed captioning. Americans living with intellectual and physical disabilities stand to benefit the most from broadband-enabled technologies, but disproportionately find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. I have proposed to my colleagues that we require captioning for video clips that end up on the Internet. Those who hear with their eyes should not be disadvantaged in their ability to access video information on the Internet.

Office of Engineering And Technology Seeks Comment On Measurements Of LTE Into DTV Interference

The Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) seeks to supplement the record in the incentive auction proceeding by inviting comment on measurements of wireless Long-Term Evolution (LTE) interference into digital television (DTV) receivers conducted by OET engineers. The OET seeks comment on this matter.

Remarks of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai On E-Rate Before The Federal Communications Bar Association

As you know, the E-Rate program is part of the Universal Service Fund. It provides about two billion dollars each year for schools and libraries to connect to the Internet.

E-Rate has had its share of successes. But the program is seventeen years old and badly in need of an overhaul. Indeed, there’s a broad consensus on the need to modernize the program.

First, parents across this country understand that we can’t prepare children for the world of tomorrow in a classroom of yesterday. Second, improving educational opportunities for our nation’s kids shouldn’t be a partisan or ideological issue. My proposal has five main elements. First, we should streamline the program.

Second, we should target next-generation technologies.

Third, we should allocate E-Rate funds more fairly and predictably.

Fourth, we should increase transparency and accountability.

And fifth, we should be fiscally responsible.

“The Video Marketplace: A Modern Viewpoint”

I want to discuss the incredible vitality of today’s video marketplace and how the FCC needs to modernize its rules to reflect current realities.

Digitization and the Internet have driven a proliferation of new platforms for consumers, especially in the last decade.

To win subscribers, video providers are seeking to offer more types of content in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. And programming production and distribution businesses have started converging to meet the growing demand for high quality original programming.

To realize the full benefits of this dynamism, the FCC should acknowledge the fierce competition that exists and it should get rid of regulations that no longer make sense.

I will make the analogy that the FCC is poised at this pivotal moment just like the proverbial ostrich. This bird is known for being stubborn and sticking its head in the sand. Instead of speeding forward to recognize the marketplace realities, I worry the FCC is desperately clinging to existing rules that were written prior to the digital revolution, prior to Wi-Fi, and prior to the Internet.

FCC Plans $34.9 Million Fine Against Chinese Online Retailer Of Signal Jamming Devices

The Federal Communications Commission plans to issue the largest fine in its history against CTS Technology, Limited, a Chinese electronics manufacturer and online retailer, for allegedly marketing 285 models of signal jamming devices to US consumers for more than two years.

The FCC applied the maximum fine allowed to each jammer model allegedly marketed by CTS, resulting in a planned fine of $34,912,500. “All companies, whether domestic or foreign, are banned from marketing illegal jammers in the US,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders.

Operating a jammer is also illegal, and consumers who do so face significant civil and criminal penalties.” CTS operates a website that markets consumer electronics to individuals in the United States, where it allegedly misled US consumers by falsely claiming that certain signal jammers were approved by the FCC.

In addition to the planned $34,912,500 fine, the Commission is ordering CTS to cease marketing illegal signal jammers to US consumers and provide information to the FCC about any persons and entities in the United Sates that purchased its devices.

Internet Traffic Exchange: Time to Look under the Hood

It has become clear from consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission -- and even in some comments consumers have filed for the Open Internet Notice of Public Rulemaking -- that consumers are frustrated by recent trouble with their Internet experience for certain services and content providers.

The recent disputes between Netflix, Cogent and Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon are an example of this issue. We need to get to the bottom of this.

The release of the Measuring Broadband America report provides even more evidence that there are problems here worth examining. This annual report measures broadband speeds in a sampling of subscribers to 14 ISPs across the country serving over 80 percent of broadband consumers.

The data in this report confirms that we need more information, and we’re taking a number of additional steps, including:

  • Releasing the full raw data set to the public so others can analyze our findings.
  • Taking steps to better understand the issues; including taking a deeper look into causes of congestion and by analyzing network impact on video service providers such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix and others.
  • Working to develop tools that measure and validate how these types of congestion issues affect the consumer experience. We expect to have instituted additional testing methodologies providing more information on network congestion and peering by winter 2014.

[Knapp is Chief and Johnston is Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division at FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology]

Remarks of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel Federal Communications Commission Workshop On Prevention Of Mobile Device Theft

The thought of losing or misplacing our devices is scary. More frightening, still, is having them stolen.

But theft of mobile phones is surging. One in three robberies now includes the theft of a mobile device. When you add in the cost of lost personal and financial data and identity theft, it can cost American consumers as much as $30 billion a year.

By introducing legislation and speaking up they are shining a light on this problem -- and pressing for solutions.

As a result, we have a commitment from manufacturers and wireless providers to support anti-theft solutions in new phones. These solutions should be available at no cost to consumers. They should help wipe sensitive data from devices remotely and render them inoperable by bad actors.

FCC Releases Fourth "Measuring Broadband America" Report

The Federal Communications Commission released the results of its ongoing nationwide performance study of residential broadband service in its fourth “Measuring Broadband America” report.

The report continues the Commission’s efforts towards bringing greater clarity and competition to the home broadband services marketplace. The 2014 report reveals that most broadband providers continue to improve service performance by delivering actual speeds that meet or exceed advertised speeds, but some providers showed significant room for improvement, particularly with respect to consistency of speeds. This report highlights five evolving trends:

  • Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to deliver the combined upload/download speeds they advertise, but a new metric in 2014 -- consistency of speeds -- shows there’s still work to be done.
  • Download speeds performance varies by service tier, with some ISPs delivering less than 80 percent of advertised speeds.
  • Fiber and Cable technologies continue to evolve to higher speed offerings, but DSL is beginning to lag behind.
  • Consumers continue to migrate to higher speed tier.
  • Upload speeds vary sharply.

Network congestion study:
The study uncovered network congestion at certain interconnection points during the report’s reporting period. Although that data is not included in the findings of the report, the FCC will make this data fully available with the report for the public to review and analyze. The FCC is also taking steps to better understand the issues that presented themselves, including by analyzing network impact on video service providers such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix and others and requesting more information from ISPs and video providers about peering issues. We are working to develop tools that measure and validate how these types of congestion issues affect the consumer experience. We expect to have instituted additional testing methodologies providing more information on network congestion and peering by winter 2014.

Media Bureau Announces the Effective Date of the Television Joint Sales Agreement Attribution Rule

On April 15, 2014, the Commission released a Report and Order in the 2014 Quadrennial Regulatory Review -- Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the Report and Order, the Commission adopted an attribution rule for television joint sales agreements (JSAs), establishing that same-market television JSAs for more than 15 percent of the weekly advertising time for the brokered station are to be counted toward the brokering station’s ownership totals, just as the Commission has long done with respect to radio stations. To avoid disruption of current business arrangements, the Report and Order provided a two-year compliance period -- from the effective date of the Report and Order -- for parties to same-market JSAs in existence as of the release date whose attribution results in a violation of the broadcast ownership limits to come into compliance with the broadcast ownership rules. The effective date of the Report and Order is 30 days after it was published in the Federal Register on May 20, 2014; thus, the effective date of the television JSA attribution rule is June 19, 2014, and the two-year compliance period will end on June 19, 2016.

Wireline Competition Bureau Releases Connect America Cost Model Illustrative Results Using Higher Speed Benchmark

The Federal Communications Commission Wireline Competition Bureau has released number of locations that would be eligible for the offer of model-based Connect America Phase II support if the proposed speed benchmark of 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream (10 Mbps/1 Mbps) is used to determine the presence of an unsubsidized competitor.

Because the Connect America Phase II budget remains the same under either scenario, the extremely high-cost threshold would decrease from $207.81 to $172.51 if the 10 Mbps downstream speed benchmark were used. Approximately 824,000 price cap carrier locations have an average cost above this $172.51 extremely high-cost threshold, whereas approximately 577,000 price cap carrier locations are above $207.81.

The results have been produced using the adopted Connect America Cost Model (CAM v4.1.1), with a new solution set to reflect 10 Mbps/768 kbps coverage. The Bureau also is releasing a list of census blocks comparing the census blocks and number of locations that would be eligible for the offer of model-based support using 3 Mbps/768 kbps to determine broadband coverage versus using 10 Mbps/768 kbps.