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First 24 hours

by Michael Byrne, Geospatial Information Officer
February 18, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]The launch of the National Broadband Map marks the beginning of a promising new venture: empowering consumers, researchers, policy-makers, and developers to truly understand what broadband means in America.

This idea—a powerful way to navigate huge troves of data to increase transparency and understanding—drove the production of the map. In building the map, our team had a hunch that there would be a hunger for a tool that served up this level of detail and information. The talented designers, web architects, and geospatial pros kept that in mind throughout the entire building process.

When the map went live yesterday, the response was astounding, with the number of requests to the website averaging more than 1,000 per second! Below is just a short list of the metrics we observed on our first day;

  • Total hits yesterday: 158,123,884
  • Hits served by cache: 141,068,348 (89.21%)
  • Total Bytes Transferred: 863GB
  • Peak Requests per Second: 8,970
  • Average Requests per Second: 1,095
  • Visits in the first 10 hours: over 500,000

This phenomenal response shows that the investment of time, energy, and—not least of all—Congressional funds were well worth it. The National Broadband Map clearly has a market of interest, and we’re extremely proud to see that market being well served.

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The National Broadband Map

by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative – NTIA
February 17, 2011

Welcome to the first-ever public, searchable nationwide map of broadband access.

The National Broadband Map is an unprecedented project created by NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, and in partnership with each state, territory and the District of Columbia. We created the map at the direction of Congress, which recognized that economic opportunities are driven by access to 21st Century infrastructure.

With funding from NTIA's State Broadband Data & Development Program, our state partners have gathered and worked to validate broadband data from thousands of providers across the country. Together, we developed a dataset and website that includes more than 25 million searchable records displaying where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers. Whether you are a consumer seeking more information on the broadband options available to you, a researcher or policymaker working to spur greater broadband deployment, a local official aiming to attract investment in your community, or an application developer with innovative ideas, the National Broadband Map can help. And if you don't find the answer you're looking for on the map itself, you can download the entire dataset.

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While the launch of this map is a huge accomplishment, today is just the beginning. Our partners in the states are working to expand and update this important dataset, and we will update the map with new data every six months. In the meantime, you can help. Each time you search the map, you have the opportunity to tell us about the data you're seeing. This crowdsourced feedback will be an important tool to improve and refine the data.

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IssueMap Round-up

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
February 16, 2011

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We’re really proud and humbled by the splash that IssueMap made last week. Thanks to the team at FortiusOne for rolling out a high-quality product that obviously hit the mark.

It’s exciting to see some of the cool IssueMaps that are shared over social networks. You can follow @IssueMap on Twitter to catch the shared IssueMaps published there. We’ve also put up a new Reboot page that collects a few FCC data sets and maps them on IssueMap.

We continue to hold strong to the belief that -- done right -- mapping will significantly change the way we understand data, solve problems, and tell compelling stories.

Here are some of the different angles on IssueMap:

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Demand for mobile broadband

February 10, 2011

Cisco recently released an update to its Visual Networking Index: Mobile Data Traffic Forecast report, which contains projections of data usage on mobile wireless networks over the next five years. The report is widely followed because Cisco’s role as a network equipment supplier throughout the network ecosystem – including wireline networks, cellular networks, and consumer WiFi networks – gives them some unique insights into where network trends are heading. Last year’s VNI report, which projected surging demand on wireless networks, was an input into the spectrum demand analysis we released this past fall. We were therefore interested to see how Cisco’s report changed since the prior edition.

The bottom line is that Cisco continues to foresee an enormous surge in wireless demand. Let’s take a look at their North American regional breakout. Cisco estimates that in 2010, North Americans transmitted 49 Petabytes (PB)per month over mobile networks. That’s about 4,900 times the amount of information in the printed collection of the Library of Congress. By 2015, Cisco expects this number will grow to 986 Petabytes – nearly one Exabyte, equivalent to almost 100,000 Libraries of Congress.

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National Women’s Heart Health Month

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 10, 2011

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As we celebrate Black History Month, we also recognize February as National Women’s Heart Health Month. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is hosting the Make the Call, Don’t Miss a Beat campaign to encourage women to call 9-1-1 immediately when the seven symptoms of a heart attack occur:

  • Chest pain, discomfort, pressure or squeezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
  • Unusual upper body pain, or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

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The issues surrounding Women’s Heart Health are especially important to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Every minute a woman suffers a heart attack in America, but according to a 2009 American Heart Association (AHA) survey, many are not aware of the key symptoms of a heart attack. More astounding is the fact that only 50% of women said they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack. It is imperative for the safety of women that these statistics change; 9-1-1 is the number to call during such health events.

During this month’s observance of Women’s Heart Health and in the months to follow, please encourage yourselves, your mothers, wives, aunts and sisters to educate themselves on the symptoms of heart attack and, without hesitation or procrastination, to call 9-1-1. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.

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Jammin' - A Hit for Bob Marley, a Miss for Communications

by Michele Ellison, Chief of Enforcement Bureau
February 9, 2011

Over the last several years, cell and GPS jammers have become increasingly portable and accessible to consumers on the Internet. These websites often mislead consumers, suggesting that cell jammers may be used lawfully to silence unwanted cell phone use in restaurants, movie theaters, or on the roads. And, some websites (including many based outside the U.S.) claim that individual consumers are responsible for determining the legality of their jammers.

Don't be fooled!

Because jammers are designed solely to block authorized communications, the marketing, sale, and operation of jammers is illegal in the United States. Why? Well, using jamming devices can endanger the public.

Jamming devices are indiscriminate. For example, when a cell jammer is used, the jammer's unwanted signal is often set to the same frequency as the phone signal, only stronger.

The jammer's signal can be so powerful that it cancels the signal of all phones in its range – yes, it may silence loud conversations disturbing those nearby, but it also can prevent a desperate teenager from calling 9-1-1 to report an accident, an elderly person from placing an urgent call to a doctor, or anyone else from successfully placing an emergency or other safety-related call.

Similarly, GPS jammers are often touted as "anti-spy" devices that can prevent an employer or a suspicious spouse from tracking your movements in your car. However, GPS jammers can also disable the E911 function in certain cell phones that allows emergency services to home in on 9-1-1 callers who are injured or otherwise unable to provide their location.

Given these real public safety concerns, the Enforcement Bureau has adopted a strict enforcement policy in this area. Leveraging the presence of the Bureau's Field Offices across the country, we will aggressively pursue violations wherever we find them.

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Modernizing and Streamlining the Universal Service Fund

by Haley Van Dÿck, FCC New Media
February 7, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:153:height=104,width=70]]This morning, Chairman Genachowski laid out a proposal to get broadband to rural America while cutting waste and inefficiency in two of the Commission’s largest programs.

Universal service has been core to the FCC’s mission since the Communications Act of 1934 created the agency and committed our nation to making vital communications services accessible to all.  The Universal Service Fund helped connect virtually every American to our 20th century communications grid.  But this program, along with Commission’s closely related Intercarrier Compensation rules, have become riddled with waste and inefficiency and are not up to our nation’s broadband challenge. Today, up to 24 million Americans have no access to broadband—fixed or mobile.

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At tomorrow’s meeting, the Commission will vote on the proposal to transform the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation rules from programs designed to support 20th Century voice networks to a force for expansion of 21st century fixed and mobile broadband and voice networks, while eliminating waste and inefficiency.

Read the full text of Chairman Genachowski’s speech here.

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Announcing IssueMap: Copy, paste, map

by Michael Byrne, Geospatial Information Officer
February 7, 2011

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]Everyone has seen a good spreadsheet go bad. Students, lawyers, public servants, accountants—if you’ve ever spent time with a complicated dataset, you’ve had a spreadsheet turn against you.

Maps are a data visualization tool that can fix a rotten spreadsheet by making the data real and rich with context. By showing how data -- and the decisions that produce data -- affect people where they live, a map can make the difference between a blank stare and a knowing nod. Maps are also a crucial part of a decision-maker’s toolkit, clearly plotting the relationship between policies and geographies in easy-to-understand ways.

I'm extremely proud today to announce the official launch of IssueMap, the result of a partnership between the FCC and FortiusOne. IssueMap is a long time coming. As a board member with the National States Geographic Information Council, some colleagues and I identified the need for a product that would produce maps from complicated data steps in just three steps: copy, paste, map. IssueMap is that product.

Along with FCC Deputy GIO Eric Spry, we shot a video to show this drop-dead simple tool in action. Check it out, then visit IssueMap.org and try it. You can use the social media functionality in IssueMap to share your map with your community, or even export in a KML file to mash up your map other online services. Leave links to your maps in the comments here, and let us know what you want to see from the next iteration of IssueMap.

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A First-Ever National Test of the Presidential EAS

by Lisa Fowlkes, Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 4, 2011

Yesterday we released an order that adopts rules establishing the basic framework for national tests of the Presidential Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies. Governors and state and local emergency authorities also use it — on a voluntary basis — to issue more localized emergency alerts. Under the FCC’s rules, broadcasters, cable operators, Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service providers, Direct Broadcast Satellite service providers and wireline video service providers are required to receive and transmit Presidential EAS messages to the public.

To date, the EAS has not been used to deliver a Presidential alert. While various components of the system are tested regularly, there has never been a nationwide, top-to-bottom, test of the system. In 2009, the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Executive Office of the President (EOP) (collectively, the “Federal Partners”) began planning to conduct the first-ever national test. As part of this effort, on January 6, 2010 and January 26, 2011, FEMA, along with the State of Alaska and the Alaska Broadcasters Association, conducted two “live code” tests of the Presidential EAS within Alaska. A “live code” test uses the same codes that would be used during an actual activation of the Presidential EAS. The Federal Partners are using the results and lessons learned from these tests to complete a test plan for the first ever National EAS test.

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FCC Hosts Two from Wounded Warrior Program

by Jamie Barnett, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
February 1, 2011

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The Wounded Warrior Program is an internship program developed by the Department of Defense for injured service members who are convalescing at military treatment facilities in the National Capitol Region. The program provides meaningful activity outside of the hospital environment and offers a formal means of transition back to the military or civilian workforce. Placing these service members in supportive work settings that positively impact their recuperation is the underlying purpose of the program.

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The Wounded Warrior Program is a great opportunity for convalescing service members to build their resumes, explore employment interests, develop job skills, and gain valuable federal government work experience that will help them prepare for their adjustment to the workplace. The Department of Defense Computer/Electronics Accommodation Program provides for participating service members on assignment to federal agencies. This includes electronic equipment, transportation, sign language interpreter services, and other services they require.

I’m honored to report that the Federal Communications Commission has continuously participated in the Wounded Warrior Program since July 2008. Today, the Commission has two service members serving as emergency management interns with our Public Safety team while continuing their recuperation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Sergeant Lyndon Sampang, an Army veteran of eight years, was severely wounded on March 18, 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne. Prior to his assignment to Afghanistan, Sgt Sampang had completed a tour of duty in Iraq. Sgt Sampang began his internship with us on December 7, 2010.

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