FCC Requires Support for Text-To-911

Federal Communications Commission logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules that are designed to promote the widespread use of text-to-911. Currently, the availability of text-to-911 is limited. The purpose of this new rule is to keep pace with how Americans communicate. In other words, the FCC has noted that more people are using cellphones and texting now than they have in the past.

This new requirement builds on existing commitments that were made by America’s four largest wireless carries to support text-to-911 by May of 2014. The new rules require all remaining wireless carries and certain IP-based text application providers to support text-to-911 by the end of 2014.

The new text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers. It also includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers. It does not include messaging apps that only support communications among users of social media or games.

Why is it important to have a more uniform system that allows for text-to-911? The overall reasons is to help save lives. The FCC noted that Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech disabilities are widely using text messaging. It also pointed out that there can be situations where a person is in danger but is not safe to call 911. Sending a text is silent, and can be used more discretely by people who need help. Text-to-911 can also be useful when networks are congested.

That being said, the FCC doesn’t necessarily recommend that everyone use text-to-911 as a “go-to” for emergencies. They describe text-to-911 as a complement to, not a substitute for, existing 911 service. Make a voice call to 911 whenever possible. If that doesn’t work, then it is time to use text-to-911. They recommend people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities to use relay services or other existing methods to contact 911 if text-to-911 is unavailable.

Telestream Captioning Products help you meet FCC Requirements

Telestream logoTelestream is the leading provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions. They have announced that their closed captioning software products meet the new regulatory requirements, including video captioning quality and accuracy rules set forth by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

On February 20, 2014, the FCC set new, improved, rules for TV closed captioning to ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming and to resolve concerns on captioning quality. These rules apply to all television programing with captions, and address quality standards for accuracy, synchronicity, program completeness, and placement of closed captions.

The products from Telestream are fully compliant with the new FCC rules. Those who use the products from Telestream can be assured they are following all the rules. This allows them to focus on producing content for TV, web, and mobile distribution.

Telestream’s closed captioning software products provide a full set of tools to help TV programmers and distributors address the new quality issues set forth by the FCC. Its strength is in fixing the difficult synchronous and caption placement issues.

Telestream also has developed new and improved versions of MacCaption (Mac) and CaptionMaker (Windows) products. The user interface has had a more contemporary facelift and there have also been functionality improvements. New integration allows Telestream’s Vantage customers to automate many types of captioning-related workflows including file-conversions.

Support for the latest caption formats and specs, including SMPTE 2052 and WebTT with full CEA-608 compatible formatting, plus CEA-708 digital caption authoring will be included in these new versions of MacCaption and CaptionMaker.

The Master Switch

Once in a while, a book comes along that contains ground-breaking insights.  Such is the case with a book I’ve listened to over the past couple of days, the Audible audio book version of ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by author Tim Wu.

“The Master Switch” is a compelling look into the history of major information industries such as the telegraph, the telephone, commercial broadcast radio, the commercial movie business, and commercial broadcast television. The book points out an identifiable, slowly-repeating cycle obviated by the fact that these industries were able to gain and hold monopoly status. Each in turn became quite adept at retarding disruptive technological innovations that threatened their respective business models.

Today we take an open Internet for granted, but these same and other forces are looking to take over control of the Internet and turn it into a closed, much more tightly-controlled system.

The book is extremely well written and well researched. The Audible audio book narrator Marc Vietor brings the book to life in a wonderful way.

Mr. Wu does a fantastic job of laying out the often-fascinating histories of companies such as Western Union, AT&T, NBC, etc. As consumers, we think we know these companies through their consumer advertising. The real history of these companies is often quite different and very eye opening.

If you enjoy stories about technology and business, you will almost certainly enjoy “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu.

Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?

More bandwidth!  I want more bandwidth!  If I yell, can I get it?  No?  How about if I ask nicely?

Lots of us have yelled AND asked nicely.  And in a year or so, we might just be able to get it.  At least, another way of getting it.  The FCC is prepared to vote on the provisions associated with making so-called “white space” between broadcast channels available for use with super Wi-Fi, service that will be faster have more range, and be more robust than current Wi-Fi.  “Super” Wi-Fi should penetrate walls, as well, making the provision of this new Wi-Fi a huge player in the current broadband market.

It has taken two years for the FCC to complete the appropriate surveys of white space, and come to terms with broadcasters and wireless microphone manufacturers about how the space will be used and by whom.  With the new provisions approved, development can finally occur.  By 2011 CES, proof of concept devices should be on display, with actual primary devices becoming available within a year.

I, personally, can’t wait.  A wireless signal that can go two or three miles, and offer speeds of 10 to 20 mbps to the home or business?  No more worries about having to have fiber, cable, or copper installed?

Maybe I can seriously consider building that house on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere after all…

Unscrupulous Scruples: Watch where you click.

antivirus

I’ve been seeing this more and more. You have to upgrade a product – a home (free) edition or something. You press the link and it sends you to a page that talks about upgrading. In fact, everything this page screams is “We don’t have the free version, you must buy an upgrade to continue”.

But if you scan the page, you see on the bottom in small print “No thanks. Register the Free version”.

Another case in point: I was searching for Drivers for a friends computer. I got to the companies webpage and selected what I thought was the driver. Instead, it shuttled me to download a program that would then collect information on my PC and find the right drivers.

It was not malware, but more of Bloatware. And that program wasn’t afraid to do the same thing – ask to install more Bloatware.

This practice is on the verge of misleading. You have to really scan pages to make sure you are selecting the right option.

Case in point #2: There is a great website out there that helps webmasters. We won’t get into the name, because this is not a witch hunt. I will say that when you purchase something on their site, you are taken to a page that looks like you have to press an “OK” button. However, this button is not to OK the purchase, but to add additional services. By scanning down the page, you find the “No thanks – Continue” option stuffed in the bottom part of the page.

In advertising creation, you learn a little trick. When an eye hits an ad, they instinctively start in the middle and work clockwise around the ad. Therefore, you put your “Hook” in the middle and the other items on the sides, including the name of the product.

What these sites have done is made the ad, but then put the “No thanks” in a spot where upon first glance, the eye will miss.

I just bought my ticket for Blogworld / New Media Expo. I used a discount site to purchase the plane ticket and hotel. After making the initial purchase, I was inundated with options I should look at. I suppose it’s so the discount site can offer lower fares. Once again, I had to carefully scan for the “No Thanks” option, although those other buttons looked like they were part of the processing.

Recently, people have been finding extra charges on their credit cards. They went to an online shopping site and chose the great deal of the day. They then pressed a button that looked legitimate to sign up for monthly deals (or something like that). Of course, those deals came with a price.

I really think that the FTC needs to start recognizing these little nuances in websites. It would be like if you went to the grocery store and the clerk started asking “Should I also add in a gallon of milk?” even if you didn’t grab milk.

As for this upgrade – I understand you need to make money off the product, but being sneaky about doing it is only going to make me go somewhere else. Put the “No thanks” in a more visible area. The consumer will buy your product if they don’t feel they are getting swindled.

VOIP callers will Pay Universal Service Fee Taxes

Well I know what this means for Vonage customers, your bill is about to go up, and you will now be contributing to keep small rural telephone companies in business. You will be paying to support companies that are still trying to surcharge for touch tone services. The very companies you are routing around you will now indirectly have to give money to them.

What isn’t clear is how this is going to affect those of us that use Skype. I am sure they will have to comply as well, but seeing Skype calls terminating to land lines in the United States is free at the moment, it may not be a big deal till they end the promotion.

Since the FCC is going to charge that tax the FCC should put that money in a special fund to help build public owned infrastructure that the phone companies can not control. We are being taxed to support these phone companies that are about to divide the Internet into tool booths, in order for companies like Vonage to have access to their networks in order for their data to pass unrestricted through their networks.

This is shameful beyond words. [news.com.com]

FCC will support TV a la carte pricing

If TV executives where not shaking in their boots they need to be a upcoming FCC decision could change the landscape of programming options to pro-consumer. If I could pick and choose the channels I want to pay for on my cable box. The first thing to go would be all the home shopping networks, followed by all sports channels with a couple of exceptions. I would remove all of the cartoon networks, music networks and all channels that have any form of infomercial on them. I figure by the time I was done I would probably remove about 100 channels of crap and have left over several dozen channels that actually have programming on them. Since signing up for Netflix, HBO, Cinemax and Showtime have not been watched so I might as well cancel those anyway. If the FCC moves on this decision the TV industry is going to change overnight! [CNN]