FCC leader discusses tech issues at show

You’ve heard of universal health care and universal education. Now, the Federal Communications Commission wants to get the nation ready for universal broadband Internet access.

High-speed Web-surfing for all was just one hot topic among several in a question-and-answer session today with Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski at the Consumer Electronics Show inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. On top of discussing how to take broadband into every American household, Genachowski discussed Internet neutrality, the Fairness Doctrine and whether his agency is necessary in a digital world.

On broader broadband service, Genachowski said the commission has held more than 50 public hearings and workshops on a plan to promote universal, or "ubiquitous," access. It’s an important effort, he said, because job openings these days often appear only online, and many of those jobs require some digital know-how.

"If we graduate students who don’t have basic digital skills, we’re not preparing them for our economy," Genachowski said. "In the 21st century, the concept of literacy needs to be extended to digital literacy so that our kids know how to participate in the new economy."

Commission officials expect to deliver a broadband-access plan in March. The initiative would look at why 35 percent of consumers who have access to broadband Internet connections don’t buy the service, and investigate whether they lack money for or interest in broadband. The plan would also address deployment holes in areas without broadband infrastructure, and it would evaluate spectrum gaps that could emerge if demand for high-tech communications outstrips bandwidth and airwave supplies.

"In the move toward ubiquitous broadband, weуre going to move toward unleashing spectrum, we’re going to focus on having a vibrant media landscape that serves the public, weуre going to focus on protecting and empowering consumers and families and on making sure that our first responders and public-safety communications networks are the 21st century networks that our country needs," Genachowski said.

Securing broadband service for all Americans would carry three benefits, Genachowski said. It would serve as an economic engine to drive innovation and productivity gains. It would yield a "bucket of societal opportunities" to promote "common goals" involving education, health care, energy and public safety. And it would foster civic engagement in a "21st century democracy," he said.

Broadband wasn’t the only topic on attendees’ minds.

One audience member submitted a question about the Fairness Doctrine, a retired commission policy that required broadcast-license holders to devote air time to contrasting views on topics salient to the public interest. Some Democratic federal lawmakers advocate reviving the doctrine to balance the abundance of conservative hosts on talk radio. But "the Fairness Doctrine is dead," Genachowski said.

Another audience member wanted to know whether the commission is doomed to irrelevance, given evolving technologies. Is the "scarcity rationale" behind the agency’s radio-age genesis, when it was formed to regulate the limited public airwaves broadcasters used to reach consumers, relevant in a digital era?

Genachowski argued for the commission’s continued importance. He noted that spectrum-supply crunches and scarcity problems occupy part of every day he spends on the job. What’s more, promoting vibrant competition and the free flow of information is just as important in a digital world as it was in an analog one. And millions of Americans still get video and news over the air, so it’s not yet time to declare broadcast-era rules obsolete.

"We’re clearly in a time of transition when it comes to the media landscape," he said. "Newspapers are shutting down. Local TV news is under pressure. And the characteristics of usage are changing, too. The core goals in this area, which have been bipartisan goals of the FCC for decades, remain the same: making sure that we have an informed and educated citizenry, a vibrant marketplace of ideas, and that our kids are educated, informed and protected. How we serve those goals in the future won’t be exactly the same way we served them in the past. The goals of universal broadband do change the equation and raise new questions."

Discussion moderator Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Electronics Association, also asked about a case snatched from the latest headlines: Today’s arguments before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in a case involving the commission’s 2008 sanction of cable and Internet provider Comcast. The agency sanctioned Comcast after Comcast cut off traffic from file-sharing Web sites, and Comcast appealed the action. The case essentially weighs whether the Internet should be controlled by people who "own the pipes," or whether it should be open to everyone equally, Shapiro said.

Genachowski said he wasn’t familiar with arguments in the case, but he said he wants to keep the Internet as unfettered and democratic as possible.

"Our hope is that there is an outcome that preserves a free and open Internet, and that accomplishes the reasons we’re in this game, which are to promote innovation, to promote investment, to protect the free flow of expression, and to preserve and accelerate the kind of innovation, economic activity and job creation that we’ve seen out of this platform for the last several decades and that we need for the country to continue for the next several decades," he said.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like