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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Using the Additional Time for the DTV Transition

Now that Congress has, for whatever reason, extended the DTV transition, FCC and NTIA will look like the SEC at this week's hearing if they don't take advantage of the time to try to improve things. The image at top is from FCC's website today - the date of the transition has not been changed yet. Shall we start a pool on when it will be changed? Feel to post your own guess to this blog below.

I have commented in the past on the "battling DTV websites" of NTIA and FCC: www.dtv.gov and www.dtv2009.gov . While NTIA is tasked by law to give out the famous coupons, the information they give on related issues is not always the same as FCC's. I am not saying whose is better - but why can't they agree to use the same information on the details?

I was looking recently at the foreign language information available on both websites. Here is a table of what's there along with Census data:

Language Total Speakers in US Speakers Whose English Ability Rated "Not Well" or "Not at All" DTV Information at FCC Site DTV Information at NTIA Site
Spanish 28,101,052 7,931,848 Yes Yes
Chinese 2,022,143 571,123 Yes(2) Yes (2)
Vietnamese 1,009,627 326,971 Yes Yes
Korean 894,063 264,420 Yes Yes
Russian 706,242 192,294 Yes Yes
French 1,643,838 145,580 Yes Yes
Portuguese 564,630 118,723 Yes
Polish 667,414 112,487 Yes
Italian 1,008,370 111,249 Yes
Japanese 477,997 89,677 Yes
French Creole 453,368 85,598 Yes
Tagalog 1,224,241 85,217 Yes Yes
German 1,382,613 84,254

Arabic 614,582 71,128 Yes
Armenian 202,708 45,685

Persian/Farsi 312,085 43,135 Yes
Greek 365,436 37,562 Yes
Gujarathii 235,988 30,340

Urdu 262,900 26,146

Hindi 317,057 19,936

Cambodian/ Kmer 182,000
Navajo 178,000
Hmong 168,000
Yes Yes
Laotian 149,000
Serbocroatian 130,000
Yes (Bosnian)
Romanian 114,000

Amharic 82,000
Yes Yes
Samoan 57,000

Ilocano 50,000
Somali 43,000
Tongan 24,000
Dakota/Lakota 24,000

Kurdish 10,000

Yup'ik 16,000

Sudanese ?


Somali data - http://paa2006.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=61036
Both FCC and NTIA have traditional Chinese characters (PRC) and simplified characters (Taiwan)

The second column gives the total number of speakers of each language in the US and the third gives, more importantly, the number of speakers who can't speak English well. The data is based on the 2000 census and hence isn't good for recent refugees from Sudan and Somalia. It also only has English speaking data for the top 20 languages. I did not include one language on the NTIA site that I think is Laotian or Cambodian.

I suspect this data shows that if your congressman has influence, you are much more likely to get information in your language. Thus the 16,000 Yup'ik speakers get information from FCC, but not NTIA, while the 86,000 German speakers with bad English don't. NTIA also ignores Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Japanese, and French Creole which account for 517,000 people with poor English ability. If you want some clues as to why a language was chosen, check out the geographic distribution of each language and you can guess which congressman pressured which agency. For example did Ted Stevens ask for Yup'ik while no one spoke up for Armenian?

In the case of the Hmong, an interesting question is whether the older immigrants who don't speak English can read Hmong since it was only a spoken language until the late 20th century. Similarly, there are Navajos in rural areas who avoided compulsory education and don't speak English but it is not clear if they can read Navajo.

The new team at FCC inherited a real mess as they all realize. I hope they can make real progress soon. I also hope they remember to explain to the public what NCTA calls the "Second DTV Transition" this has a real potential to embarrass everyone involved unless the cable industry explains better what is happening.

1 comment:

Henry Cohen said...

"Shall we start a pool on when it will be changed?"

June 13th.