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Blog Posts by Eric Spry

Adding More Color to the E-rate Maps

by Eric Spry, Acting Geographic Information Officer
August 20, 2014 - 11:28 AM

Today we are pleased to release our first update to the FCC E-rate Maps of Fiber Connectivity to Schools and Libraries reflecting feedback we have received from stakeholders. These valuable data from state programs, school districts, and Internet providers across the country have helped us turn the gray, unknown, parts of the map to a known fiber connectivity status.

We are grateful for the interest these maps have already received and are pleased to release an updated version of the maps today, just one week after our initial release.  This version of the maps includes comments received and verified as of 3:30p EDT on 8/18/14 and modifies the weighting schemes to give a stronger preference to data submitted expressly for the purposes of this E-rate proceeding. 

The E-rate maps will continue to evolve and improve, along with the underlying data, available on the E-Rate Modernization Data page. We hope that stakeholders in the E-rate process will continue to stay engaged with our team by submitting feedback to for schools and for libraries.

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FCC Speed Test App: Our First Results

by Mike Byrne and Eric Spry, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
November 21, 2013 - 12:47 PM

Last week, the FCC released the first public version of the FCC Speed Test app for Android phones.  The app, available for free in the Google Play store, provides precise and nuanced data about the performance of mobile broadband networks used by consumers in the U.S.  The launch was an exciting moment for us, and we were eager to see how the app would be received.  Now, some initial results are in, and they are very promising.

Here’s some of what we saw on just the first two days following the release:

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DevEx Day: Developing Innovation at the FCC

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer, and Eric Spry, Deputy GIO, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis
May 15, 2013 - 12:14 PM

We recently experimented with a new idea at FCC: giving a small team 24 hours to create something new on their own. We called this DevEx Day (referred to as either DevEx or FedEx Day). The name is a play on the brand name FedEx, where products need to be delivered in 24 hours, combined with a developer day. This innovative approach arose from the tech industry and has expanded into other sectors. The idea is that for 24 hours, participants work on something new and different from their normal work. It is a focused day of learning new skills or honing existing ones, guided only by the participant’s interest. The day starts with each team member explaining his or her project to the group. The next day, members present their finished products, which are reviewed by the group. And like its original namesake delivery company, participants must absolutely positively deliver overnight.

This approach forces participants to focus intensively. Collegial competition adds the impetus to “deliver”. During the DevEx Day, no meetings are scheduled, no calls are taken, and email stays closed for the team.

The results were terrific. Each member of the entire team delivered working software code, and nearly all published this code on the site, using free and open source tools. Several of these projects have already guided larger projects at FCC, and all have inspired new ideas from team members and reignited creative spark. Too rarely do the people writing the code have a say in the complete “stack” of the environment they are working with. DevEx Day puts them in the driver seat; we can learn a lot from where each driver takes us.

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Opening the Hood-and Code-Behind FCC.GOV/Maps

by Eric Spry, Deputy Geographic Information Officer
March 20, 2012 - 03:33 PM

We have released a new module that drives our page.  Often referred to as open sourcing our code, we are excited to release this for wider audience use and enhancements.

Over the past year, has gone through a major transformation.   The evolution of has been described on several occasions in the following blog posts: Taking a peek under hood new, MyFCC-BetaNew Features and Enhancements-, and Understanding Maps.  We use the open source software, Drupal, to drive our site. Presently, Drupal is the CMS behind more than websites, (see: for a complete list) and more than 600,000 other sites. 

Open source technologies like Drupal allow users to add modules, features and enhancements, which plug-in to the main software.  The web experience can be easily tailored to the needs of each site's users by drawing from a wide range of contributed Drupal modules without the long development cycle of other website solutions. The result is a fast, customized website. 

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