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Statement of Patrick S. Finn on the FCC’s Order to Modernize and Reform the E-Rate Program

“The FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, has taken a vital first step toward E-rate modernization and reform today.”

It’s critical that we modernize and reform the E-Rate program to connect all classrooms across the country to high-speed wireless broadband within five years.  Today’s order, which provides an additional $2 billion toward Wi-Fi networking in classrooms over the next two funding years, represents a significant down payment on this goal.  Importantly, the FCC is prioritizing connectivity for students and teachers in the classroom via Wi-Fi for the next two years, with the intention of continuing that funding into the future. It will also help connect rural schools, while mitigating bureaucracy and red tape that impact the ability to quickly deploy the technology schools and libraries need.

To compete and succeed in the global marketplace, our students and teachers need to have access to the world’s libraries, scientific discoveries, and innovative educational tools at their fingertips.  That’s where E-rate comes in. E-rate is the foundation for Internet access in public schools and libraries across America. Read More »

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Winning Back the Weather Radio Channels Adds Capacity to 5GHz Wi-Fi Spectrum

In my last blog on 5 GHz spectrum, I discussed the recent FCC ruling that permitted outdoor access points to use the U-NII 1 band (5150-5250 MHz).

But the story doesn’t  stop there. As mentioned last time, there are significant technical challenges to using the 5 GHz band. It is not cleared spectrum. It contains incumbent uses that are important for national security and public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that Wi-Fi not create harmful interference to these incumbent systems. Cisco will not settle for less.

On the topic of interference, a particularly interesting component of the same  FCC ruling that opened the U-NII1 band for outdoor AP’s is that it also re-opened the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) band (channels 120, 124, 128) with new test requirements for DFS protection. Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before diving into what this means:

What is TDWR?

In brief, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) “is a Doppler weather radar system used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States.” TDWR uses the frequency band from 5600-5650 MHz which is why wireless network equipment needs to be proven to “do no harm” to TDWR. If you’re curious for more information on TDWR, then please click here and/or here.

A Brief History

Many of you reading this will recall that the FCC closed the use of the TDWR band several years ago as the result of numerous reports of wireless equipment creating interference with TDWR. Read More »

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What, Why, Where, When, How: The New FCC Ruling Around 5 GHz

You don’t need me to tell you to know that we are in the midst of a technology revolution.  It’s mobilizing the internet.  And it’s transforming the way billions of people around the globe collaborate, communicate, and connect to the internet.

•           The education customers I work with are incorporating video and mobile applications into their curriculum with up to a 100 students in an auditorium accessing the Wi-Fi network simultaneously.

•           Healthcare customers are relying on Wi-Fi to connect patients, devices and provide nurses instant access to medical records.

•           Manufacturing customers are increasingly using Wi-Fi to enable workers on the factory floor to have real-time video conversations with experts anywhere in the globe.

What do these things have in common?  They all depend on Wi-Fi for connectivity.  In these areas, and so many more, Wi-Fi has become a central way that people access the Internet.

The FCC released a historic decision on April 1, 2014 (adopted March 31)with regards to the use of 5 GHz spectrum. Although there were many technical aspects included within this decision, one of the most interesting was making the 5150-5250 MHz U-NII 1 band available for outdoor WLAN use. Read More »

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Connecting Every School in America To High – Speed broadband

September 5, 2013 at 7:55 am PST

In every school district in America today, educators are faced with a simple, yet critically important, question.  How do we obtain, implement, and integrate transformative technology into all of our schools and classrooms?

Some districts have embraced technology and put mobile and collaborative devices in the hands of students.   In The Katy School District in Texas, for instance, performance on math tests increased from 70th to 90th percentile following adoption of mobile technologies and devices. Similarly, in the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, the district increased levels of competency in all subject areas from 60 percent to over 85 percent, and graduation rates increased by 22 percent.

But in too many schools and school districts today, the promise of connected classrooms is just that – a promise, and not reality.

That’s why it’s so critical that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) modernize and streamline the E-Rate program.  E-Rate is the cornerstone of America’s effort to provide digital education to students.  Since the program’s inception 15 years ago, E-Rate has connected more than 100,000 schools and libraries to the internet. It has a proven track record of success.

Read More »

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U.S. Broadband Deployment: Where the FCC Should Focus

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

At a time in the United States when political opinions seem to fly to the extremes, with no middle ground, it’s no surprise that the FCC’s recent report on broadband deployment evokes a similarly polarized reaction.

Of the five commissioners who authored the report, three (including chairman Julius Genachowski) seem to believe that 95% penetration of fixed broadband by any technology (see graphic) is cause for alarm, citing the lack of broadband in rural areas and tribal lands. Two of the three commissioners filed dissents to the conclusions of the report.

Read More »

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