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Telecommunications

  • How To Find Your Lost Android Device

    Find Your Phone

    Everyone has had it happen, you check your pocket and your phone isn’t where you normally put it.  You immediately go into a panic because in this day and age people use their phones for everything from shopping to banking or as their digital camera.  So either you are thinking, Oh my God my banking info or oh my God how will a replace all those pictures of little Jimmy. Continue reading

  • How Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Works

    The average phone use may never have heard of VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, but chances are they have already used it by placing a long distance call. Phone companies often use VoIP to reduce their bandwidth and streamline calls. And major carriers like AT&T and the FCC are already investing in VoIP plans.
  • The Breakup of Bell

    When Alexander Graham Bell’s patents expired in 1894, competition for telephone service in the United States began. Small local telephone service companies sprang up all over the U.S. By 1907, 51% of the local telephone service was owned by Bell competitors.

    Bell, then AT&T, began quietly and swiftly purchasing these small local telephone service companies. Before anyone realized, AT&T had become a monopoly. The government was considering stepping in, when AT&T made an agreement to prevent the loss of what they had established.

    In the Kingsbury Commitment, AT&T agreed to sell its holdings in Western Union and allow local phone service companies to interconnect with their network. They also had to agree to stringent requirements on the acquisition of any more small companies.

    In 1934, the Communications Act formed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the telecommunications industry. But, the increase in regulations for telephone companies only served to strengthen AT&T’s stronghold, as it became even more difficult for competition to join the market.

    Finally, in 1974, the U.S. Department of Justice took action with an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. A settlement finally ended the lawsuit in 1982. The Bell System had to split up its local exchange service operating companies. AT&T thus lost 70% of its value, left to operate long distance services and with plans to go into the computer business.
  • Television and the FCC

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been regulating telecommunications since its founding in 1934. The Communications Act of 1934 established the FCC to bring order to chaos, to license those entities and individuals that meet regulatory requirements, and to monitor the use of radio technology.

    The Television Branch of the Video Services Division is responsible for regulating and providing licenses for commercial and noncommercial broadcasts. They cover both UHF and VHF stations. It took amending of the original Communications Act of 1934 to accommodate television into the regulated industry of telecommunications.

    The FCC stays on top of current issues in media. All regulated entities must not only prove that they are legally, financially, and technically qualified for licensure, but also that the operation of their station would be in the interest of the public.

    One such issue has recently come up, and is under review by the FCC. Have you ever found it annoying when you are sitting and watching TV, when suddenly the commercials come blaring on, startling you, your kids, and even your dog with the spike in the volume?

    Commercial makers set it up this way so that when people leave the room during the commercial brake, to get a sandwich or take a restroom brake, they will hear the commercial advertisements roaring down the hall. Currently, the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act is under review by Congress. This act would eliminate the loudness of the commercials, authorizing the FCC to prevent companies from changing the volume of the commercials.

  • Telecom Regulations; A Brief History

    Alexander Graham Bell not only invented the telephone, but also founded the Bell Company, with the help of his colleagues, which provided phone service. Together, with the patents Alexander held for his technology, they managed to achieve a calling rate across the United States of 37 per 1,000 people of the population. This took 20 years to achieve, however.

    So, when the patents expired in 1894, competitors were waiting at the gate to take advantage of the huge gap between potential customers and actual customers of phone service. Thousands of would-be-phone companies jumped into action bringing the number from 37 per 1,000, in 1895, to 391 per 1,000 in 1910.

    Bell’s competitors owned 51% of local telephone service by 1907. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) saw an opportunity and began quickly buying up many of these small competitors, growing at an alarming rate.

    The federal government noticed and was preparing to take action against the burgeoning monopoly. In order to pacify the government and still maintain its stronghold, AT&T sold $30,000 of its stock in Western Union and agreed to allow all the remaining competitors to interconnect with its established network, in a contract called the “Kingsbury Commitment.”

    This was the beginning of telecommunications regulation. However, as the government began to increase regulatory barriers to market entry, it only further benefited the monopoly of AT&T because it made it even more difficult for any companies to compete with the well-established giant.

    In 1934, the government took its greatest step in regulating telecommunications. The Communications Act of 1934 effectively created a new agency called the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Today, the FCC continues to monitor and regulate all telecommunication services of the non-federal variety, keeping an eye on the largest companies as well as providing opportunities for the smallest.

  • Proprietary Broadcasting

    Before the recent advent of open broadcasting standards, a technology that allows a variety of different equipment from various manufacturing sources to communicate in the same technical language, and thus work together effectively, there was only proprietary broadcasting. Proprietary broadcasting technology meant that broadcasting companies had to select one manufacturer to buy all of their equipment from.

    The entire set of equipment had to be originally made, in the process of manufacturing, to communicate with all its various functions and parts. This did not allow for choices between manufacturers for different machines and components.

    With proprietary broadcasting technology, broadcasting manufacturers had limited technology available. They had to make modifications to get the technology to work with real-time television needs. The broadcasting companies were also frustrated because they could not customize their equipment, or buy some equipment from one manufacturer and some from another.

    The proprietary broadcasting technology was also limited in its performance. Computer hard drives had to be altered to achieve the broadcast specs required. Equipment designers had to create proprietary file formats and file systems to allow for video playback in real time. These problems made proprietary a high-cost, low-performance technology.

    Recently, a huge development in broadcasting and computer technology has changed the need for proprietary broadcasting. With new open broadcasting standards, equipment from different manufacturers can communicate effectively with each other. Thus, broadcasting companies can select from the best each manufacturing company has to offer, and form an ideal setup for their needs, with better technology at a lower price.

  • Open Broadcasting Standards

    Proprietary broadcasting has, until the recent past, been the only available broadcasting standard. This meant that only those companies with enough funding to develop and maintain this pricey technology could compete. Proprietary technology meant that a broadcasting company had to choose one manufacturer for their entire set of equipment, or it would not work together.

    Now, thanks to a great deal of hard work by creative engineers, who have combined a high-level knowledge of computer and broadcast technology, open-standards based equipment is now available. The price tag is much lower, making this technology much more accessible to the smaller broadcasting companies.

    These new fast and effective file systems, file formats, and generic disks come with a smaller price, in part, because of the improvement in technology. Also, competition keeps the prices down, because now a variety of vendors can be utilized for these open-standards technologies.

    Many non-profit associations worked with standards-setting committees to drive the development of open standards equipment, with the result that interchange languages allow the transportation of audio and video transmission throughout the broadcast plant, with complete interoperability.

    Now, whether the equipment came from one manufacturer or another, they all, in essence, speak the same language. They can communicate, or transfer information, one with another regardless of who made which part of the equipment. This means that broadcasters can now put together their ideal setup, using a variety of the best equipment from the best manufacturers, and it will all work together as though it were from one unified source.

  • The Influence of the FCC

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a part of everyday life, in the United States. It is the large, Congress-appointed entity that came about through the Communications Act of 1934. It is responsible for regulating all telecommunication, whether interstate or international. This includes radio, wire, satellite, cable, and television transmitting.

    It may seem like it affects only big business, but it is interesting to take a look at how it indirectly affects every individual every day, in the mundane tasks we take for granted. Almost all electrical and electronic equipment transmits radio frequencies and is thus regulated by the FCC.

    When the toll fee for your morning commute is automatically deducted from the small plastic box on your windshield, and you don’t even have to stop the car, it is a FCC regulated transmission. Paying for your gas with a card at the pump is also regulated.

    Sending a job to the printer in the other room, from the computer in your bedroom, is a transmission. Even the radio controlled monster truck your son asked for is FCC regulated.

    The microwave emits waves that required it to be monitored by the FCC. The keyless entry you love on your new car is also. Blockbuster Video, located in your home town, is able to scan your membership card and see if you have a free rental (because of the information that is transmitted from corporate).

    The cash register at the store, the home alarm system you let your brother-in-law talk you into, and even your garage door opener- they are all FCC regulated, keeping you protected and ensuring proper use of radio wave technology throughout the United States.

  • FCC Regulation of CB and Amateur Radio

    The FCC regulates all telecommunication services, from the smallest to the largest. Out of necessity, therefore, the FCC is called upon to regulate and license even amateur radio and CB radio systems.

    CB is the acronym for Citizens Band Radio Service. It is simply a two-way private communication service, used for either business or personal activities. It only has a useable range of about one to five miles.

    The FCC only requires licensure for the manufacturers of the CB units, as long as they are unmodified. The FCC certifies the units as they are produced, so consumers are allowed to purchase them and use them without contacting the FCC. Check the CB unit for the FCC certification label.

    For amateur radio, individual users can learn about radio, how to build a radio, practice intercommunication, and learn about the technology of radio, with the help of FCC’s website links. They provide information about the aforementioned functions as well as the Sequential Call Sign System, vanity call signs, and other forms of communication through radio.

    In order to operate an amateur radio station, however, even if it is run from a garage or home studio, the FCC requires an application for licensure. The would-be radio operator must first receive an amateur operator license from the FCC, before proceeding into the world of radio transmission.

    In addition, in order to receive the license grant, one must pass an examination administered by a team of volunteer examiners. This will determine the operator class. The FCC thus ensures that even the smallest of radio stations is regulated.

  • FCC Licensing

    The FCC licenses such a variety of telecommunications services, it has had to develop an easier, faster way to serve the needs of individuals and companies all over the United States that need to license everything from television broadcasting services to amateur radio.

    There are five online licensing systems on the FCC website. The first is the Universal Licensing System (ULS). This system is for universal application filing. It walks the user through the licensing process step by step. The applicant must explain the application purpose and list the radio service code.

    The Broadcast Radio and Television Electronic Filling System (CDBS) is specifically for the filing of broadcast radio and television applications online. The FCC processes these applications and posts the information publicly, through the CDBS Public Access Link.

    The Cable Operations and Licensing System (COALS) is offered by the Media Bureau’s internet based system for Cable Operator and Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD) applications. These applications, and online changes that are made by the applicants, can also be viewed publicly on the Cable and CARS databases.

    The International Bureau Electronic Filing System (MyIBFS) is an online application system for international signaling point code (ISPC) and space stations, among other forms of telecommunication. It covers earth stations that communicate with space, as well.

    Finally, the OET Experimental Licensing System is on a designated website that allows people and companies to file requests for Special Temporary Authority, for experimental telecommunications technologies such as exhibits and demonstrations. The goal of these online licensing systems is to streamline the process of obtaining licensure through the FCC.

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