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FCC Lauches ‘Reboot’ Web Site to Spur Discussion of Agency Reform and Data

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday launched http://reboot.fcc.gov, a new interactive website attempting to foster public discussion on how to best improve the agency.

The site includes many opportunities for public input on a variety of facets of FCC operations, including greater release of FCC data, the development of new systems such a the “Consolidated Licensing System,” and the redesign of the main agency website, http://FCC.gov.

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WASHINGTON, January 11, 2010 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday launched http://reboot.fcc.gov, a new interactive website attempting to foster public discussion on how to best improve the agency.

The site includes many opportunities for public input on a variety of facets of FCC operations, including greater release of FCC data, the development of new systems such a the “Consolidated Licensing System,” and the redesign of the main agency website, http://FCC.gov.

The site is broken down into five sections: systems, rules and procedures, data, engagement and redesign. The home page also offers links to the RebootBlog – this reform efforts blog – plus all current FCC initiatives and upcoming events. Each section also includes the ability for users can comment, post suggestion and then vote on suggestions, Ideascale model.

Following FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s introductory message, the second post on the RebootBlog tackles the issues of redesign. David Kitzmiller, Internet Working Group Chairman, admits that “although web guidelines and cooperation between content providers has proved successful… the usability of the site design has not improved along with it.”

Their main task on redesigning the website is to create a user-centric design: “People expect page elements to be in certain standard places on webpages …content is king and intuitive navigation is the key that unlocks it,” said Kitzmiller.

Kitzmiller said he was tasked with discovering what people come to the website to accomplish and then organizing the content along those lines. Statistics based on research and collected data are used to help determine the FCC’s top tasks and prominence of which they are featured on the website.

Without data, said Kitzmiller, the agency cannot be sure whose needs the site aims to fill.

As for systemic reform, the agency has already launched a new version of its Electronic Comment Filing System 2.0 in October. The new version allows users to file multiple documents to multiple rulemakings in a single submission, has enhanced search features, and allows users to explore data results in more efficient Excel and PDF formats.

Special Counsel for FCC Reform Mary Beth Richards said that through “reboot” feedback, the agency can continue an ongoing conversation towards further enhancements of a potential ECFS 3.0 system.

Richards also is looking for feedback on consolidating the numerous license applications systems, including a Universal Licensing System, Consolidated Database System, and International Bureau Filing System.

The “rules and procedures” section of the site seeks comment and input on increasing the transparency of the current ex parte systems and streamlining FCC internal processes.

FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick said that the FCC places a high priority on reforming rules and practices to improve openness and efficiency. In an effort to maximize the number of proceedings that use the commissions electronic filing system and make proceedings easier and more efficient, Schlick proposed an example of having documents served electronically rather than through the mail, which would save money and time. He continued, “Many state courts have similar e-filing systems. The FCC should be at least as user friendly and accessible to the public as the courts.”

Another fundamental part of the reform process that Reboot seeks to address regards agency data. Chairman Genachowski said that ensuring the openness of data that underpins FCC decisions is a key dynamic in fulfilling a fact based data driven agency. To meet these ends the Commission is launching FCC.gov/data – an online clearinghouse for the public data of the FCC. The FCC.gov/data link currently has information that is searchable by data type and by individual bureau.

Paul de Sa, Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy, said that he wanted the “character of the project to revolve around standards of machine readable, open file formats as well as syndicated feeds and bulk downloads.” Current discussion sections already include; what data sets would users like to see published on FCC.gov/data, how can the FCC better employ such data, and how can the data released on FCC.gov/data be better formatted in order to be more useful to the public?

Reboot.fcc.gov has launched at a point in time where the FCC has been working extensively to foster new levels of public participation, as well as finalizing the national broadband plan that Congress delegated to it.

The FCC has improved access to live events through their broadband workshop series and FCC Live platform. They have also worked toward digitizing agency material for enhanced searchability and have established a new an active social network presence. Steve VanRoekel, agency managing director, pointed out the over 30,000 comments that were generated in the first month following the launch of the first FCC blog, and their easy to use crowd sourcing platforms.

“These examples are just the beginning of our efforts to bring 21st century communication to the FCC as we begin to explore new avenues of participation through eRulemaking, look to find new ways to increase public engagement offline, and work to make the current systems more accessible to all users” said VanRoekel.

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

Broadband Data

TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China

Broadband Breakfast briefly breaks down the topics to be discussed at the TPRC conference.

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Photo collage of experts from TPRC

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 – The TPRC research conference on communication, information, and internet policy is right around the corner and it is set to address some of the most pressing issues facing Big Tech, the telecom industry, and society at large. We cover some topics you can expect to see covered during the conference on September 22 to 24.

If the recent election cycle and the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that the threat of misinformation and disinformation pose a greater threat than most people could have imagined. Many social media platforms have attempted to provide their own unique content moderation solutions to combat such efforts, but thus far, none of these attempts have satisfied consumers or legislators.

While the left criticizes these companies for not going far enough to curtail harmful speech, the right argues the opposite— that social media has gone too far and censored conservative voices.

All this dissent has landed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996—once a staple in the digital landscape—in the crosshairs of both Democrats and Republicans, as companies still scramble to strike a compromise to placate both sides of the aisle.

Definition of broadband

The future of broadband classifications is another topic that will also be touched on during the conference. This topic quickly became relevant at the outset of the pandemic, as people around the country began to attend school and work virtually.

It became immediately clear that for many Americans, our infrastructure was simply insufficient to handle such stresses. Suddenly, legislators were rushing to reclassify broadband. Efforts in Washington, championed primarily by Democrats, called for broadband standards to be raised.

The Federal Communications Commission’s standing definition of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload appeared to become unpopular overnight, as calls for symmetrical service, like 100 x 100 Mbps speeds, and even gigabit speeds became a part of the conversation.

Many experts were quick to strike back, particularly those operating in the wireless community, arguing that the average consumer does not need 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds, let alone one gigabit, and such efforts only amounted to fearmongering that would hurt the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved communities.

These experts contend that shifting the standards would diminish the utility and viability of any technology other than fiber, as well as delaying when unserved communities (as they are currently defined) can expect to be served. Broader topics surrounding rural broadband and tech-equity will also be prominently featured—addressing many of the questions raised by Covid-19 across the last year and a half.

Future of spectrum

Finally, the quest for spectrum will be discussed at the conference.

As ubiquitous 5G technology continues to be promised by many companies in the near future, the hunt is on to secure more bandwidth to allow their devices and services to function. Of course, spectrum is a finite resource, so finding room is not always easy.

Indeed, spectrum sharing efforts have been underway for years, where incumbent users either incentivized or are compelled to make room for others in their band—just like we saw the military in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band, and more recently between the Department of Defense and Ligado in the L band.

Even though these efforts are ongoing, there is still disagreement in the community about how, if at all, sharing spectrum will impact users in the band. While some argue that spectrum can be shared with little, if any, interference to incumbent services, others firmly reject this stance, maintaining that sharing bandwidth would be catastrophic to the services they provide.

On China

China is also going to be a significant topic at the conference. Due to the competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship, many regard the race to 5G as a zero-sum game, whereby China’s success is our failure.

Furthermore, security and competition concerns have led the U.S. government to institute a “rip and replace” policy across the country, through which Chinese components—particularly those from companies such as Huawei—are torn out of existing infrastructure and substituted with components from the U.S. or countries we have closer economic ties with. The conference will feature several sessions discussing these topics and more.

Register for TPRC 2021

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — BroadbandNow Presents a ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

As part of its efforts to provide the latest research on the social, economic and political issues contributing to the digital impact and the impact of broadband on everyday life, BroadbandNow is launching a new survey among broadband leaders enthusiasts. Think of this as a “consumer confidence” survey for broadband.

Recently, there have been many changes regarding broadband at the federal, state, local and industry levels. BroadbandNow and Broadband Breakfast aim to launch the survey at a presentation during Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, a mini-conference at the Broadband Community Summit in Houston, Texas, from September 27-30, 2021.

Join us on September 15, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online preview of the survey with John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow, and Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast.

Panelists for the event:

  • John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow
  • John B. Horrigan, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute on Broadband & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • John Busby is the Managing Director of BroadbandNow.com, where millions of consumers find and compare local internet options and independent research is published about the digital divide. Prior to BroadbandNow, John held senior leadership positions at Amazon and Marchex. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute on Broadband & Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Horrigan has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers. BroadbandNow relentlessly collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability to provide the most accurate zip code search for consumers.

See also:

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Data

New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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