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New Tools Allow Developers to Leverage Spectrum Data

Posted January 14th, 2011 by James Brown - Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

James BrownToday the Federal Communications Commission released two new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) on our developer page at fcc.gov/developer.  The new APIs leverage data from the Spectrum Dashboard and provide the developer community with direct access to these assets.

Managing spectrum is one of the FCC's primary responsibilities. These APIs are tools that unlock our substantial databases related to spectrum ownership, spectrum use, and spectrum capabilities at different locations.

Below is snapshot of the two APIs.

  • Spectrum Bands: This API returns a description of how spectrum bands are allocated and for what uses within the 225 MHz to 3700 MHz frequency range.  This information includes the lower and upper frequencies of each band, the radio services operating within the band, whether the band is allocated for federal or non-federal use, and whether the band permits unlicensed operation.  The API returns data falling within the frequency range specified as the search criteria.
  • Spectrum Dashboard Licenses: This API returns an overview of who owns spectrum across the country within the 225 MHz to 3700 MHz frequency range in radio services deemed appropriate for mobile broadband use.  The API returns the call sign, licensee name, common name, radio service code, radio service description, channel block, channel block frequency, market code and market description.

When we released the first set of APIs back in September, we did so as part of our Data Innovation Initiative efforts towards better data transparency and open government.  We continue with those efforts by releasing the second set of APIs today.

Your feedback has been essential to improving these API releases and making them more valuable to developers in the wild (see previous conversations here and here). Let us know what uses you might have for APIs like these, recommended tweaks, or suggest APIs you want to see in the future.

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Wireless Open Government Spectrum Dashboard Reform - Data Data Developer Api

Join us for the Spectrum Summit

Posted October 20th, 2010 by George Krebs

By John Leibovitz

At last week’s Commission meeting, Chairman Genachowski announced that the FCC will be hosting a Spectrum Summit to bring together creative thinkers to solve the looming spectrum crunch and ensure enough airwaves are available for Americans’ growing appetite for mobile broadband.

The Summit is now here – it kicks off at 10 am tomorrow (Thursday) -- and will be carried live at FCC.gov/Live.  And we’re very pleased that C-SPAN has agreed to join us as well.  You’ll be able to find video archives there and in the FCC’s video archive on the web.

It promises to be an interesting day.  Mobile broadband demand is growing at an astounding rate, and we’re bringing together some the key players in industry, government, academia, and the investment community to discuss how we can best help spectrum supply keep up.

Check out the agenda here, and tune in tomorrow!

Posted in Events Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Wireless
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Data Innovation Initiative: Spectrum Auctions - Data, Benefits Abound

Posted August 6th, 2010 by Robert Alderfer

Data is important to the success of the FCC in carrying out its responsibilities.  One such responsibility is management of wireless spectrum, including the FCC’s spectrum auction program.  Spectrum auctions are widely recognized as the most efficient, effective, and transparent means to assign initial commercial licenses to use the nation’s airwaves.  They help to ensure that spectrum resources are put to their best economic use – and wireless service has taken off as a result.  

CTIA, the Wireless Association, estimates that there are now over 285 million wireless subscribers in the US, generating revenue of over $150 billion annually.  And, FCC spectrum auctions have generated $52 billion in revenue since the program’s inception.  When one considers the additional tax revenue from a growing industry, as well as the “consumer surplus” of wireless services, the benefit of auctions look even more significant as a means to facilitate wireless growth.  

So what does it take to generate these economic benefits through auctions?  In addition to hardworking staff, it takes data.  Auction participants provide data in their applications, they provide feedback on auctions, and they provide information necessary to ensure compliance with auction rules.  Without this information, the auction program could not be successful.  For example, auction participants are required to disclose to the FCC any “attributable interests”, or partners.  This promotes transparency, protects against collusion among bidders and ensures appropriate competition for spectrum resources.  It also prevents gaming of the rules, such as certain preferences provided to small businesses that enable them to compete.

Auctions also generate enormous amounts of data.  For every spectrum auction, we publish who bid on what and how much at each stage.  This can mean thousands of data points in any given auction, which is useful for researchers, industry-watchers, and consumers alike.

The Data Innovation Initiative is about doing business in a smarter way.  The Wireless Telecommunication Bureau's Data Review WT Docket No 10-131 is a Public Notice seeking comments on how we can improve data related to auctions and other functions. In the context of auctions, this means taking a second look at the information we collect to support the program, and maximizing the public benefit of auction data.  For example, by modernizing our reporting requirements, we may be able to save participants several thousand hours per year overall.  Through tighter integration of our auctions and licensing data, we could more easily track auctioned licenses and provide insight on what happens to them in the secondary market.  And, by clear reporting of the vast amount of data we have gained in prior auctions, we can provide the public with a window into the world of auctions.

We are eager to hear from those who have participated in FCC auctions or have expertise in auctions and spectrum to share on how we can do improve our auctions-related data.  Follow this link to file comments WT Docket No-131. Official comments are due by August 13.

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
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Mobile Wireless Competition Report

Posted June 10th, 2010 by Ruth Milkman - Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

On May 20th, the Commission released its Mobile Wireless Competition Report, the 14th in a series of annual reports to Congress, which reviews the state of competition in the wireless industry. 

This year’s report expands our analysis of what is traditionally called “Commercial Mobile Radio Service” into a larger understanding of competition across the full mobile wireless “ecosystem”, including voice, messaging, and broadband services, as well as “upstream” segments (e.g., towers, spectrum, backhaul) and “downstream” segments (e.g., devices and applications).  The broad perspective of the report reflects the increasing importance of mobile wireless broadband, as mobile devices that can access the Internet – such as smartphones – are gaining enormous popularity. 

One of the main goals of the FCC staff in preparing this year’s report was to bring as many relevant facts to the table as possible.  In many cases, we’ve looked at trends from two or three different angles to reveal a fuller picture of how wireless marketplace is evolving.  And, for the first time, we are making much of the data in the report available in machine-readable format for researchers and data practitioners. (Some data used in the report is from proprietary sources such as financial analysts which the Commission does not have the permission to re-distribute in machine-readable form.)

One example of an industry trend examined in the report from multiple data points is the growth of mobile data traffic, arising due to the increased adoption of smartphones and data consumption on new mobile devices that access the Internet.  For instance, Cisco estimates that global mobile data traffic grew 157 percent from 33 terabytes in 2008 to 85 terabytes in 2009.  The chart below, from independent industry analyst Validas, shows how greater device functionality leads to greater mobile data utilization.

Estimated Mobile Data Usage by Type of Device


And Morgan Stanley data clearly shows that smartphones are becoming a more significant element of the wireless market. 

Smartphone Adoption Rates in the United States 2008-2009

In addition, industry revenue from data services is growing, as the below FCC analysis of industry data shows (available in our release of data).

Total Mobile Wireless Industry Revenues

The wireless industry is evolving, and our approach to this annual report has evolved in kind to provide a more complete picture of wireless competition.  We hope this data-driven approach will prove to be a useful resource for consumers, analysts, and policy makers. 

We’re interested in your feedback – what does this data say to you?

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reform - Data

Your input matters - Consolidated Licensing System (CLS) outreach continues

Posted May 21st, 2010 by Dorothy Stifflemire

Following our first CLS Public Workshop on May 6th we are actively continuing our efforts to get customer input.  On May 18th we were invited to hold a CLS brainstorming session at the Spectrum Management Association Conference in Arlington, VA.   

This was a very active session reinforcing many of the insightful suggestions we received at the earlier workshop.  The participants at this session included: licensee, third party filers, and other federal government agencies.  Many of the participants offered a unique perspective and very valuable feedback. 

The suggestions ranged for recommendations for improving the access, and search capabilities to our licensing data, to collecting additional technical data in CLS.  Participants also offered suggestions on cleaning up the data in the Commission Registration System (CORES) and recommended creating linkages between the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) Database and CLS.

The recommendations did not stop there; we went on to discuss enhanced mapping capabilities as well as the need for user testing, training and manuals as we move forward with the new system.

When addressing participants at the CLS Public Workshop on May 6th Mary Beth Richards, Special Counsel to the Chairman on FCC Forum reinforced that we need to hear from you.  She asked participants “to please be forthcoming, and creative, and that we look forward to hearing from you.”  It was obvious at this session that our customers are up to the task. 

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
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Workshop on Expanding Disability Access with Wireless Technologies

Posted May 12th, 2010 by Ruth Milkman - Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Wireless technologies present tremendous opportunities to benefit all Americans, including those with disabilities.    At the FCC, we are excited about these possibilities for innovative communications services, applications and devices.  We want to better understand how such technologies can bring more access to more people, and how the FCC can help ensure new technologies as inclusive as possible.  

On Thursday, May 13th, the Commission will be exploring these issues during a workshop called “Expanding Disability Access with Wireless Technologies.”  I hope that everyone who is interested will join us in the Commission Meeting Room or via the web from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  If that time doesn’t work for you, the workshop will also be available online afterwards.  

The first panel will focus on current access challenges.  We will be discussing mobile communications access issues facing people with disabilities and disparities in technology access.  During that session, we will be asking our panelists to give us their thoughts on questions such as:

  • What are the key disabilities access challenges that need addressing?
  • How is current technology trying to meet these challenges?
  • What emerging technologies will better meet these challenges?
  • Are there current regulatory barriers that deter technological innovation or negatively affect emerging technologies?

Our second panel will explore technology trends.  During this session we will discuss ways in which new technologies can offer opportunities to overcome challenges in access to mobile communications.  We will be looking at issues such as:

  • How can the FCC encourage the development of technologically advanced accessible products? 
  • How can we stay informed about emerging wireless technologies, and help ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered during the design and initial development stages of these technologies? 
  • How should we share best practices, understand consumer needs, and foster innovation across wireless industries?
  • What specific solutions might address the development expense of assistive and adaptive technologies?

We will also have several technology demonstrations so that people can experience examples of advanced mobile communications devices that are designed to provide access to people with disabilities.

Click here for more information on the upcoming workshop.

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Consumers
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Panel to Discuss Future of Spectrum Dashboard 2.0

Posted May 10th, 2010 by James Brown - Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Last week the FCC announced the eleven panelists for the Spectrum Dashboard public forum this Wednesday, May 12th.

With wide experience in the public and private sectors, the panelists will share their perspectives on the Spectrum Dashboard - how they currently use it and what they would like to see in a Spectrum Dashboard 2.0, anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2010. 

The forum is scheduled for this Wednesday, May 12 from 10:00am to 1pm (EDT) and is open to the publi.  For those attending in person, the event will take place in the FCC’s Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.  Note that attendance is limited by available seating, but the event can be viewed online at http://www.fcc.gov/live or using Webex.

Meet the Panelists

  • Byron Barber, NTIA, Office of Spectrum Management, Chief, Strategic Planning Division
  • Abhinab Basnyat, Senior Research Associate, The Brattle Group
  • Christopher Bjornson, Attorney, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Co-Chair, FCBA Access to Government Committee
  • Michael Calabrese, Vice President & Director, Wireless Future Program, New America Foundation
  • Tim Donavon, Director, Legislative Affairs, Rural Cellular Association
  • Joe Hanley, Vice President of Technology, Planning and Services,  Telephone and Data Systems, Inc.
  • Brian Higgins, Partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP
  • David Redl, Director, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA, The Wireless Association
  • Michael Saperstein, Director of Government Affairs, PCIA, The Wireless Infrastructure Association
  • Peter Tannenwald, Member, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C.
  • Peter Tenhula, Vice President & General Counsel, Shared Spectrum Company     

For information on attending, please contact Cecilia Sulhoff at (202) 418-0587 or Cecilia.Sulhoff at FCC dot gov with your name, title, organization affiliation, and contact information.  It is recommended that individuals arrive thirty minutes prior to the start of the forum to pass through security.  There are two options to attend the forum online: 

  1. For audio/video coverage of the forum with open captioning over the Web, use www.FCC.gov/live.
  2. For video coverage of the forum with open captioning over the Web and the ability to ask questions during the forum, use http://fccevents.webex.com.  Note:  This option requires participants to access the website in advance to receive a password for logging into the forum and to receive a toll free number to hear the audio portion of the forum


Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Spectrum Dashboard
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Help Update the Spectrum Dashboard

Posted April 22nd, 2010 by James Brown - Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

This week the FCC announced that a public forum will be held on May 12, 2010, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm to discuss potential enhancements to the Spectrum Dashboard in anticipation of release 2.0 of the Spectrum Dashboard in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Anyone interested in providing feedback on the list of potential enhancements below, suggesting additional potential enhancements, or participating at the forum by sharing your experiences with using the Spectrum Dashboard should contact me by April 30, 2010 at James.Brown at FCC dot gov or (717) 338-2621.  Final details of the forum will be announced approximately one week before the forum on this blog and in a public notice.

Potential Enhancements to the Spectrum Dashboard

Enhance license information:

  • Add spectrum leases, including the common name for lessees.
  • Modify how cellular licenses are depicted in the Spectrum Dashboard by cutting off Service Area Boundaries (SABs) at the Cellular Market Area (CMA) boundaries.
  • Update broadcast data to include more current information for full power TV stations and to add data for low power TV stations.

Add search capabilities:

  • Identify spectrum licensed on federally-recognized Tribal Lands.
  • Add additional types of licenses that can be searched and add additional search options.
  • Expand the range of spectrum bands where information is available (currently the Spectrum Dashboard encompasses 225 MHz – 3700 MHz).

Improve search results:

  • Modify maps to include information such as FCC market boundaries and third-party data from sources such as the Census Bureau.
  • Identify the percentage of geography covered and total population included for counties where a license area does not cover an entire county.

Expand the information available for downloading:

  • Provide access to the “shape files” used to create maps.

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Spectrum Dashboard
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Customer Feedback for the Spectrum Dashboard

Posted April 14th, 2010 by James Brown - Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Last week, a customer feedback questionnaire was added to the Spectrum Dashboard.  The questionnaire should take a couple of minutes to complete and will help determine how the Spectrum Dashboard is being used, and how to shape future enhancements. 

After feedback from the questionnaire is collected and analyzed, a workshop will be held to discuss the feedback received, listen to public views on desired upgrades, and discuss ways to expand and improve the information and analyses contained in the Spectrum Dashboard.  The workshop will be announced in a Public Notice as well as through a blog.

To access the questionnaire, click on the “Give us your opinion” link located at the top right corner of any of the Spectrum Dashboard searches (Browse Spectrum Maps, Browse Using a Map, Search by Name, and Search by FCC License Categories).

We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Spectrum Dashboard
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Auction 87 Online Tutorial

Posted March 31st, 2010 by Craig Bomberger

The FCC has developed a new interactive, online auction tutorial to replace our long-standing practice of hosting live auction seminars and streaming them over the web (although we could still hold a live seminar in addition to providing the tutorial if desired for certain auctions).  We believe that this tutorial will allow us to provide high-quality training materials to potential auction applicants in a more user-friendly format.  The tutorial software allows interested viewers to choose the specific materials they wish to view and to do so whenever and as often as it is convenient and useful. 
The first auction for which the FCC has posted a tutorial is Auction 87, the upcoming auction of licenses for lower and upper paging bands spectrum, which is scheduled to begin on May 25, 2010.  The tutorial is available here. This video provides a brief demonstration of the new tutorial:


Posted in Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Wireless
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