devxlogo

Federal Communications Commission

Definition

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a U.S. government agency responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. Established in 1934, the FCC works to ensure that communication services are accessible, reliable, and fairly priced for all citizens. The commission also enforces communication laws and regulations, grants licenses for broadcasting, and manages the allocation of radio frequency spectrum.

Phonetic

The phonetic spelling of “Federal Communications Commission” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is: ˈfɛdərəl kəˌmjunɪˈkeɪʃənz kəˈmɪʃən

Key Takeaways

  1. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the U.S. government that regulates and oversees the communications industry, including radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.
  2. The FCC’s mission is to promote the development of competitive, efficient, and accessible communications infrastructure and services for the benefit of all Americans, while ensuring a diversity of viewpoints and maintaining public safety through enforcing regulations such as the Emergency Alert System.
  3. The FCC grants licenses and enforces rules to prevent harmful interference and protect consumers, ensuring that communication networks and services remain accessible, reliable, and reasonably priced for the public.

Importance

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an important technology term because it serves as the primary regulatory body overseeing communications industries in the United States.

Its mandate includes the responsibility of ensuring that radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communication systems operate efficiently and effectively, serve the public interest, and promote competition.

The FCC plays a critical role in shaping policies, rules, and enforcement actions that protect consumers, manage spectrum allocation, encourage the growth of telecommunications infrastructure, and foster innovation in media and technology.

This federal agency, therefore, is essential in maintaining a suitable environment for the development and advancement of communications and technology sectors in the United States.

Explanation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent governmental agency in the United States, established to regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. It plays a vital role in ensuring that the American public has access to reliable, diverse, and efficient communication services.

The FCC’s purpose is essential in fostering a safe and competitive environment in the rapidly evolving world of communication technologies. By setting policies, licensing radio frequencies, and enforcing regulations, the agency safeguards the interests of both consumers and businesses in the communication industry.

One of the significant functions of the FCC is to promote competition in the market, which helps to drive innovation, encourage better customer service, and lower prices. To achieve this, the FCC monitors mergers and acquisitions in the communication industry, as well as overseeing the allocation of scarce resources such as radio spectrum and telephone numbers.

In addition, the agency enforces strict rules for preventing and addressing communication-related issues, such as protecting user privacy, ensuring public safety, and preventing unwanted communications like robocalls and spam. By fulfilling these roles, the Federal Communications Commission plays a critical role in shaping the development, growth, and deployment of communication technologies in the United States.

Examples of Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a government agency responsible for regulating interstate and international communications via radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in the United States. Here are three real-world examples involving the FCC and its role in the field of technology:

Net Neutrality: In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the net neutrality rules that had been implemented in

These rules dictated that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet equally, without favoring or blocking specific websites, services, or content. The decision ignited an intense debate over the potential implications of repealing net neutrality, and several states have since pursued their own net neutrality legislation in response.

Spectrum Auctions: The FCC regularly holds spectrum auctions, which allow broadcasters and wireless carriers to bid on spectrum licenses for radio frequencies. These auctions play a critical role in ensuring fair distribution of limited spectrum resources, promoting competition, and ensuring efficient use of spectrum for wireless communications. For example, the 2017 Incentive Auction reallocated valuable low-band spectrum, which was previously used for television broadcasting, for the deployment of advanced wireless services like 5G.

Emergency Alert System (EAS): The EAS is a national public warning system that enables the President of the United States to communicate with the American public during national emergencies. The FCC, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), enforces the EAS rules and tests the system on a regular basis. Additionally, the FCC mandates that all broadcast, cable, and satellite providers ensure their systems are compliant with EAS regulations to maintain the effectiveness of public notifications for various emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist threats.

Federal Communications Commission FAQ

What is the Federal Communications Commission?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates interstate and international communications. It was created by the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure a fair and efficient communication system in the country.

What does the Federal Communications Commission do?

The FCC’s primary responsibilities include regulating and licensing radio and television stations, as well as wireless communication devices such as cell phones. They also oversee the management of the electromagnetic spectrum, cable systems, and satellite services. The FCC is tasked with ensuring that broadcasters serve the public interest and advancing the goals of public safety and infrastructure development.

Who can file a complaint with the FCC?

Any individual or organization who believes they have experienced a violation of FCC regulations can file a complaint. These may include concerns related to broadcasting, telecommunications services, or equipment. Complaints can be submitted online, by phone, or by mail.

How does the licensing process for radio and television stations work?

Applicants interested in operating a radio or television station must submit an application to the FCC, which includes information about their intended programming, technical specifications, and ownership details. The FCC reviews the application, taking into account any public comments received, and determines whether granting the license would serve the public interest.

What is net neutrality and how is it related to the FCC?

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet equally, without blocking, throttling, or prioritizing specific websites or content. The FCC is responsible for enforcing net neutrality regulations, which aim to ensure equal access to the internet for all users. However, the FCC’s stance on net neutrality has shifted over time, with changes in regulations and legal challenges affecting its enforcement.

Related Technology Terms

  • Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • Broadcast Licensing
  • Net Neutrality
  • Spectrum Allocation
  • Emergency Alert System

Sources for More Information

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents

More Terms