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Official FCC Blog

September, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Apps for Communities

by Brittany L. Stevenson, New Media Associate
September 30, 2011 - 07:04 PM

So, who's behind the 50+ apps that we've received so far? Curious to know some details?

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FCC and FEMA: How to Communicate Before, During and After a Major Disaster

September 21, 2011 - 11:46 AM

By Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Ask anyone who has lived through a significant disaster what that experience was like and – without a doubt – one of the things some people are likely to recall is how difficult it was to communicate from their mobile phones with friends, family and emergency services like 911 in the immediate aftermath.

Many of us were reminded of this last month, when both a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Irene struck parts of the East Coast. People immediately reached for their phones to call loved ones or 911.  Unfortunately, in some cases, loss of power made communication difficult.

The FCC and FEMA are doing everything we can to empower the public to be prepared for all emergencies (you can visit or to learn more).  But one of the lessons learned from that August earthquake was that we can do more to educate the public about the most effective ways to communicate before, during and after a disaster. 

Today, we are pleased to release a set of new, easy-to-follow tips to help all Americans prepare their homes and mobile phones for a disaster.  These tips are practical things everyone can do to better preserve the ability to communicate effectively during – and immediately after – a disaster. 

While we don’t have control over when or where the next disaster will strike, we do have control over what we do to prepare.  Check out these tips and please, take one more step and share it with your networks. Use Twitter, Facebook, email or a good old-fashioned phone call to help us spread the word – and help more Americans get ready before the next disaster strikes.

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FCC Announces Public Testing of First Television White Spaces Database

by Julie Knapp, Chief, FCC Office of Engineering and Technology
September 14, 2011 - 03:17 PM

Julius P. Knapp

White spaces are unused spectrum between TV stations and are considered prime real estate because signals in this band travel well, making the band ideally suited for mobile wireless devices. Unlocking this valuable spectrum will open the doors for new industries to arise, create American jobs, and spurr new investment and innovation. 

The availability of spectrum for unlicensed devices has fueled a wave of innovation and new businesses based on technologies such as as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DECT cordless phones, baby monitors, RF ID, smart utility meters, and many others.  This new unlicensed spectrum is powerful platform for innovation and in turn, experimental use, holding rich potential for further investment in the development of new technologies and services such as "Super Wi-Fi", wireless broadband networks, video devices, and machine to machine communications, among others.   

Today, the Commission is taking a critical step towards that goal by issuing a public notice announcing the start of the first trial of a TV white spaces database. The limited public testing of Spectrum Bridge’s database system is intended to allow the public to access and test the system to ensure that it correctly identifies channels that are available for unlicensed TV band devices, properly registers those facilities entitled to protection, and provides protection to authorized services and registered facilities as specified in the rules.

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Apps for Communities- Reminder to submit entries

by Tammy Sun, FCC Communications Director
September 8, 2011 - 01:39 PM

It’s the final days of summer and the Apps for Communities entry deadline’s been extended until October 3, 2011. Thanks for all those who’ve already submitted; our judges are looking forward to reviewing your apps. To enter, apply via the portal and add a link to your team’s fully functioning app or demonstration and the source code.  

The Apps for Communities Challenge is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission. The Challenge will offer up to $100,000 in prizes to winning application developers and is intended to bring together providers of public data, developers and traditionally underserved populations through a national contest. The challenge is an effort to drive the great technical skills we have in our country out into our local communities. A particular goal is to build new applications to improve access for people who struggle with accessing information and services online: Seniors, non-English speakers, people who are uncomfortable with technology, and others. The results of this contest can have an enormously powerful impact on local communities across the country.

This year, we’re honored to have investors, technologist, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and philanthropist who have agreed to server as judges for the competition:  Marc Andreessen, Mayor Cory Booker, Charles Best, Brad Feld, Jen Pahlka and Tom Lee.   

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Back to School in a Digital World Forum – A call for your questions

by Tammy Sun, FCC Communications Director
September 7, 2011 - 03:35 PM

Like many parents around the country, the FCC’s getting ready for back-to-school season. Tomorrow, we’re hosting Back to School in a Digital World, a forum bringing together parents, educators and experts to discuss the opportunities and challenges around technology use by adolescents. Recent surveys show that nearly three quarters of online teens use social network sites and, on average, teenagers send one text message every ten minutes during waking hours. The event will highlight questions from parents, educators and others from across the country. 

We want to hear from you. As parents, tell us your burning questions – the ones you talk most about with your friends, family, teachers and others – surrounding issues related to your child’s online and digital experiences, at home, at school, on mobile phones, tablets and other devices. The FCC has set up a crowdsourcing site to help collect some of the most common questions from parents on this important topic. Submit your questions – or vote for topics you’d like to see discussed – here:  Anyone can participate by submitting a question or voting for questions.  The forum will be webcast live on  Parents will also be able to send in questions during the forum at or tweet their questions to #fcclive. So feel free to give us your questions now, and one way or another, we’ll respond!

Back to School in a Digital World is free and open to the public. If you live in the Washington-DC area and want to attend, here are the details.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

10:00AM – 11:15AM Eastern


Columbia HeightsEducational Campus

Main Auditorium

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