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FCC Unlocks Government Data With New Online Tools

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Released: September 7, 2010

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



September 7, 2010
Jen Howard, 202-418-0506


Washington, D.C. -- At the Gov 2.0 Summit today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman
Julius Genachowski and Managing Director Steven VanRoekel announced a suite of new tools designed
to unlock FCC data and drive innovation across the public and private sectors.
"Today's announcement marks a major step towards our goal of reimagining the dot gov experience to
better serve the 21st-century citizen," said Chairman Genachowski. "These new online tools will
empower innovators and developers across the country to leverage government data in ways never
imagined, creating immense value for the American public. This is an important part of institutionalizing
change in government."
The suite of tools released by the FCC includes a number of APIs (Application Programming Interface) --
interfaces that enable communication between independent databases -- for use by developers across a
broad range of industries, including federal, state, and local government. The FCC also announced the
creation of a developer community ( designed to help drive future releases
through feedback and collaboration.
"These tools are designed to maximize the value of government data for citizen shareholders," said
Steven VanRoekel, FCC Managing Director. "Their release is part of a larger effort aimed at running a
dot gov more like a dot com, with the same kind of agility, responsiveness, and innovation we expect
from leading commercial websites."
The datasets and tools released by the agency include the results of the FCC Consumer Broadband Speed
Test, which has tallied more than 1 million tests taken since the release of the tool in March. The FCC
developed and released an API that unlocks the results of those tests and enables citizen developers to re-
purpose the data in innovative ways.
The agency also released a tool that can match geographic location with government data aggregated at
the census block level, the first tool of its kind developed by a federal agency.
The announcements are part of an agency-wide process to fundamentally redesign the agency's primary
web presence at
Below is a quick digest of each service.

Consumer Broadband Speed Test API

This API returns the Consumer Broadband Test speed test statistics for a U.S. county given the passed
latitude and longitude. The statistics are grouped into wireline and wireless and are the number of tests,
average download speed, average upload speed, maximum download speed, and maximum upload speed.

This data is calculated nightly and includes all tests to date performed through the consumer broadband

Census Block Search API

This API returns the U.S. Census Bureau Census Block number given a passed latitude and longitude.
The API also returns the U.S. state and county name associated with the block. Just about every major
dataset in the U.S. federal government uses some form of census geography. The lowest level of that
geography is the census block. This geography is highly nested, such that removing coded values from
the right hand site aggregates to the next highest geography (e.g. from block to tract, and from tract to
county). Providing this search allows developers to build applications which foster connectivity from
their individual location to the full array of federal databases based on census geography.

FCC Registration Number (FRN) Conversion

Filers with the FCC must get a registration number (aka FRN) whose company names, parent names, and
subsidiary names often change from state to state and region to region. The FCC is providing this API to
increase the value of the transparency of broadband providers offering service in each state. Providing a
single place for understanding the complex naming of these providers will benefit consumers. This API
has two method calls: getList and getInfo. GetList call takes the parameters of a state's abbreviation or
state FIPS code, and a yes-or-no for multiple-state indicator, and returns all the broadband providers in
that state. GetInfo call takes FRN number of a broadband provider, and returns information about the

FCC License View

The FCC issues licenses for use of the nation's airwaves and other purposes. License View API provides
snapshots such as the number of licenses across different services, how many licenses different entities
have, and how many licenses are up for renewal in the near future. The APIs represent a step toward
reform of the licensing systems and improvement in how the FCC makes licensing information available
to the public.


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