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Understanding Maps at the Federal Communications Commission

by: Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer

February 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM


Last October, the FCC quietly deployed a new section to  The section,, translates complex policy into understandable stories for consumers.   Our maps are a fresh approach to internet mapping and help to advance our goal of open government.  Here’s a little insight to the why and how are doing this... 

At the FCC we rely on data to manage and understand complex issues.  We have extensive enterprise data and lengthy legal descriptions of each of their current landscapes, changes in regulations, and effect of these changes.  In many cases, our data on any one of these topics contains millions of records of database licenses or regulatory actions.  Descriptions of our actions are primarily available through public notices, rule makings and formal orders.  

We are always working to ensure that all consumers are able to understand our work to unleash the opportunities of broadband for all Americans.  That’s where good mapping can make a big difference. 

A great example is the recent FCC Order establishing the Connect America Fund. This fund (see expands the benefits of high-speed Internet to millions more consumers in every part of the country by transforming the existing universal service fund , which is focused on voice service, into a new Connect America Fund (CAF) focused on broadband and voice.  This is a major step forward for our economy and global competitiveness.  Our maps enable consumers to view and understand how this policy could impact them.  In the Connect America Fund, we are using data from the National Broadband Map (

FCC maps are quickly becoming among the most visited pages on our site, and they have already been embedded in other sites.   Stay tuned to see more maps, and tell us what you think.  




Updated: April 12, 2012 - 11:56 AM
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