Thursday, April 22, 2010

[RFC] FCC Commences Inquiry On Survivability Of America’s Broadband Infrastructure

News Release: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today launched an inquiry on the ability of existing broadband networks to withstand significant damage or severe overloads as a result of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, pandemics or other major public emergencies, as recommended in the National Broadband Plan.

"As Americans increasingly rely on broadband services for so many aspects of their lives, including public safety and national security, it is critical for the FCC to gain a better understanding of the survivability of existing networks and explore potential measures to reduce network vulnerability to failures in network equipment or severe overload conditions in emergencies.

"Although core broadband networks are generally presumed to be quite resilient, there may be weaknesses closer to the network edge. Accordingly, today’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeks comment, analysis and information on the present state of the resiliency and redundancy of broadband networks to withstand physical damage and severe network overload. This is a vitally important first step in ensuring that the FCC can take all necessary actions to ensure ongoing broadband communications in times of disaster or crisis.

"The NOI includes the following questions related to the resiliency of broadband networks:

  • What are the major single points of failure in broadband architectures?
  • What measures do communications providers already take to minimize the potential for single points of failure?
  • What provisions are made by communications providers to ensure the survivability of cell sites relied on by first responders?
  • What are the most effective and widely deployed physical security best practices?
  • Should traffic to and from critical emergency response agencies and for critical services be prioritized on the networks during emergencies?
  • What steps have been taken to ensure redundancy and diversity of physical network links to hardware?
  • Is the capacity of residential access networks sufficient to handle sudden surges or overloads in traffic during, for example, a pandemic emergency?
  • What network management practices are in place to handle overloads during emergencies?
"The FCC looks forward to reviewing the record and exploring how best to further improve and secure America’s broadband infrastructure into the future. The deadline for comments on the issues presented by the NOI will be 45 days and reply comments 75 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Action by the Commission, April 21, 2010, by Notice of Inquiry (FCC 10-62). Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. Separate Statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. PS Docket No. 10-92.

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) contact is Jeff Goldthorp, Chief of the Communications Systems Analysis Division, at (202) 418-1096.

4/21/10 FCC Commences Inquiry on Survivability of America's Broadband Infrastructure. News Release: NOI:

[RFC] FCC Launches Inquiry On Proposed Cyber Security Certification Program For Communications Service Providers

Press Release: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that seeks public comment on the proposed creation of a new voluntary cyber security certification program that would encourage communications service providers to implement a full range of cyber security best practices. This National broadband Plan recommendation serves as a first step to implementing a comprehensive roadmap to help counter cyber attacks and better protect America’s communications infrastructure.

"Enhancing the cyber security of the nation’s infrastructure is critical to the proper functioning of communications networks serving America’s financial institutions, national energy grid, medical institutions, educational system, and public safety. Yet, broadband communications networks are susceptible to malicious attack. Despite the increasing threat of cyber attacks, many communications end-users do not consider cyber security a priority. In 2008, a Data Breach Investigations report concluded that 87-percent of cyber breaches could have been avoided if reasonable security controls had been in place.

"The goals of a voluntary cyber security certification program would be to:
  • Increase the security of the nation’s communications infrastructure;
  • Promote a culture of more vigilant cyber security among participants in the market for communications services; and
  • Offer consumers (or end-users) more complete information about their communication providers’ cyber security practices and ability to better protect their personal computer hardware and online activity from cyber attacks.
"The NOI seeks comment on a voluntary certification program under which private sector auditors or the FCC would conduct security assessments of participating communications service providers’ networks, including their compliance with stringent cyber security practices developed by a broad-based public-private partnership. Providers whose networks successfully completed this assessment would then be able to market their networks as complying with these FCC network security requirements.

"Further, the NOI includes the following questions regarding the proposal:
  • The benefits and costs of such a program.
  • Whether such a program will create a significant incentive for providers to increase the security of their systems and improve their cyber security practices.
  • Whether public knowledge of providers’ cyber security practices would contribute to broader implementation by industry.
  • Whether the scope of the certification program should be open to all communications service providers or should be limited to certain types of providers. If the latter, how should this be limited?
  • What the overall framework should be for the certification criteria.
  • The composition of a certification authority and whether it should be open to all segments of the potentially affected industries.
  • The operating procedures of a certification authority.
  • Who should be responsible for establishing the requirements that auditors must meet to be accredited to conduct cyber security assessments under the proposed program?
  • What should be the appropriate certification criteria, accreditation procedures, and requirements to maintain certification once obtained?
  • Whether the network security criteria should be definitive and objectively measurable or established on a case-by-case basis.
  • The development and application of assessment standards.
  • The form and duration of the security certificate, the renewal process, and permissible uses by providers of the security certificate.
  • How appeals of certification issues should be handled.
  • Whether any Commission enforcement process should be implemented for this program.
The NOI seeks comment on other actions, including voluntary incentives the Commission can take to improve cyber security and asks about actions the Commission can take to better educate consumers, businesses and government agencies about cyber security.

Action by the Commission, April 21, 2010, by Notice of Inquiry (FCC 10-63). Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. Separate Statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. PS Docket No. 10-93.

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) contact is Jeff Goldthorp, Chief of the Communications Systems Analysis Division, at (202) 418-1096.

4/21/10 FCC Launches Inquiry on Proposed Cyber Security Certification Program for Communications Service Providers. News Release : NOI

[RFC] FCC Kicks Off Universal Service Reform

Press Release: "The Federal Communications Commission today took its first step toward a once-in-a-generation transformation of the Universal Service Fund from supporting networks providing plain old telephone service into an effective and efficient tool for making affordable, high-quality broadband communications service available to all Americans.

"The National Broadband Plan that the Commission sent to Congress last month identified the need for comprehensive universal service reform that does not unnecessarily burden consumers. Today’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) begin the hard work of implementing the Plan’s recommendations, which include cutting inefficiencies in existing support of voice services and creating a Connect America Fund (CAF) that directly supports broadband without increasing the size of the Universal Service Fund over the current baseline projection.

"The NOI asks for public comment on the use of an economic model to precisely target support for areas where there is no private-sector business case for carriers to provide broadband and voice services. The economic model developed in the Plan estimates the gap between the cost of deploying broadband services to Americans living in unserved areas and the potential additional revenue generated from the broadband investment. The NOI seeks comment on how that model could be adapted to determine efficient levels of universal service support to provide all Americans with broadband access.

"The NOI also seeks comment on how to quickly provide consumers in unserved areas with broadband access while the Commission is considering final rules to implement fully the new CAF funding mechanism.

"The NPRM seeks comments on a number of proposals to cut legacy universal service spending in high-cost areas and to shift support to broadband communications. These proposals include capping the overall size of the high-cost program at 2010 levels; re-examining the current regulatory framework for smaller carriers in light of competition and growth in unregulated revenues; and phasing out support for multiple competitors in areas where the market cannot support even one provider.

"Action by the Commission April 21 by Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 10-58). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker. Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker. Docket 10-90

4/21/10 FCC Kicks Off Universal Service Reform. News Release: NOI & NPRM:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Book: Winning the Silicon Sweepstakes: Can the United States Compete in Global Telecommunications.

Prof Rob Frieden is announcing a new book publication:
I am pleased to report that the Yale University Press has published my latest book entitled Winning the Silicon Sweepstakes: Can the United States Compete in Global Telecommunications. See Book Overview.

With comprehensive documentation, I challenge the conventional wisdom and sponsored research that claims the U.S. has best in class telecommunications infrastructure and services produced by an optimal, competitive marketplace. I demonstrate that the glide path of deregulation has handicapped the nation’s competitive advantage, and has contributed to a comparatively mediocre standing of the U.S. in both broadband and wireless markets.

I assert the need for smarter, better calibrated, light-handed regulation coupled with efforts to promote greater consumer digital literacy. Rather than rely almost exclusively on marketplace self-regulation portions of the telecommunications marketplace need a government referee able to resolve disputes and safeguard consumers.

The book asks and answers such questions as:

• How can the United States demonstrate global best practices in some information and communications technology markets, such as software and computing, but woefully lag in others, such as in wireless and broadband services?

• If the information revolution was supposed to “change everything” how did over $1 trillion in investment largely evaporate in three years?

• How can incumbent telephone companies successfully argue the need for governments to create incentives for investment in next generation networks while at the same time claiming the existence of robust competition eliminates the need for any other sort of government involvement?

• Why has the U.S. largely failed to bridge the Digital Divide despite having created subsidy mechanisms that invest billions annually in never achieved solutions?

• If the telecommunications marketplace has become so robustly competitive, where are the usual consumer benefits of lower prices, diverse choices, and responsive customer service?

• Why does it appear that incumbent ventures can belatedly embrace new technologies yet eventually extend their market power by acquiring or extinguishing most competitive threats through mergers and acquisitions? and

• Why does it appear that the next generation Internet will become less open, neutral and accessible possibly tipping the competitive playing field in favor of “walled gardens” of content and services offered by incumbents keen on disadvantaging newcomers offering the “next best thing”?

[RFC] NTIA Information Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy

Press Release "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the launch of an initiative designed to gather public input and review the nexus between privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy. In addition, Locke also announced the formation of a Department of Commerce-wide Internet Policy Task Force to identify leading public policy and operational issues impacting the U.S. private sector's ability to realize the potential for economic growth and job creation through the Internet.

"Because of the vital role the Internet plays in driving innovation throughout the economy, the Department has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation while promoting an environment respectful of individual privacy expectations," Locke said. "In these difficult economic times, nothing is more important to American prosperity than jumpstarting our engine of innovation."

Through a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) published in the Federal Register, the Commerce Department is seeking public comment from all Internet stakeholders – commercial, academic and civil society sectors and citizens – on the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world on the pace of innovation in the information economy. [Comments Due 45 Days After Fed Reg Publication]The Department seeks to understand whether current privacy laws serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values.

The Internet Policy Task Force is exploring current privacy frameworks, and ways to address the challenges of the new Internet economy and society in a manner that preserves and enhances personal privacy protection.

The Task Force is comprised of staff members from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), and will be coordinated through the Commerce Department's Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, which reports to the Secretary.

In addition to privacy and innovation, the Internet Policy Task Force will examine cyber security, online copyright protection and international barriers to moving data around the globe, and the ability of entrepreneurs, and small- and medium-sized businesses to expand their operations via the Internet.

On May 7, 2010, the Department will hold a public meeting to discuss stakeholder views and to further facilitate public discussion on privacy policy in the United States. After analyzing public comments in response to this NOI, the Department will issue a report contributing to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement on privacy.

A copy of the NOI is available at

Monday, April 19, 2010

[EVENT] FTC to Host Public Roundtable to Review Whether Technology Changes Warrant Changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule

Press Release: "In light of rapidly changing technology such as the increased use of smartphones and other devices to access the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission will host a public roundtable, “Protecting Kids' Privacy Online: Reviewing the COPPA Rule,” on June 2, 2010 to explore whether to update the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule. The Rule was enacted in 2000 and requires Web site operators to obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. Roundtable topics will include:
  • Whether the Rule should be applied to emerging media such as mobile devices, interactive television, and interactive gaming;
  • Potential expansion of the Rule to cover more items of information that might be collected from children; and,
  • A review of the parental verification methods used by Web site operators.

"For a more detailed list of topics, see the Commission's March 24, 2010 request for public comment on the COPPA Rule, at .

"The roundtable will be held at the FTC Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue N.W. in Washington, DC. It is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. Members of the public and press who wish to participate but who cannot attend can view a live webcast at

"Individuals and organizations may submit requests to participate as panelists and may recommend topics for inclusion in the agenda. The requests and recommendations should be submitted electronically to . Prospective panelists should submit a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be addressed and contact information no later than May 5, 2010. Panelists will be selected based on expertise and the need to include a broad range of views.

. . . . .

MEDIA CONTACT: Office of Public Affairs

Phyllis Marcus or Mamie Kresses
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2854 or 202-326-2070

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1910 Radio Station in Arlington Virgina (Ooooops)

Over the years I have become quite a communications history buff. History is great with echos of policy debates reverberating through the ages. This short history story comes from Arlington Virgina, my home town - and also the home town of the 1910 US Navy Radio station. Back in the day, before broadcast radio - before the Federal Communications Commission - heck even before the Federal Radio Commission -- folk were interested in "wireless" as a means for ship-to-shore communications. Marconi monopolized commercial wireless telegraph service to shipping - while the US Navy took interest in the ability to communicate with the fleet at see. The first federal agency to exercise regulatory spectrum authority was in fact not the FCC but the US Navy.

Anyway, on with this great story....

Pike 200 Minute: Arlington Radio (US Navy Radio Station 1910)