NTIA Blog

Introducing Spectrum.gov

April 11, 2014 by Karl Nebbia, NTIA’s Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

The growing proliferation of wireless devices is prompting heightened interest in and demand for spectrum used by federal agencies. In response, NTIA today is launching Spectrum.gov, a new website aimed at providing greater transparency regarding how federal government agencies utilize spectrum.

Spectrum.gov provides a compendium of federal spectrum use in the 225 megahertz through 5 gigahertz bands—prime real estate that has prompted the most interest from both federal and commercial users. It contains information for each frequency band in which the federal government has significant operations on an exclusive or shared basis. Just as commercial broadband providers are facing growing demands for spectrum to fuel the explosion of new wireless devices, federal agencies’ demand for spectrum also is growing. NTIA’s compendium shows agencies need spectrum for crucial tasks ranging from military flight testing to air traffic control to weather forecasting.

Spectrum.gov is part of NTIA’s ongoing efforts to help meet President Obama’s goal of making an additional 500 megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband by 2020. This newly published data provides a band-by-band description of how spectrum is used by federal agencies, the number and type of frequency assignments NTIA has authorized, and the percentage of frequency assignments by category. In addition, the new website also features a contour map showing where federal systems that utilize spectrum are located across the country.

This latest data, which will be updated regularly, is an important resource for all stakeholders to help determine potential opportunities and obstacles to repurposing federal bands for commercial uses.

Promoting Internet Growth and Innovation Through Multistakeholder Internet Governance

March 19, 2014 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

This past Friday, NTIA asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the U.S. government’s stewardship of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). This marks a major milestone toward the final phase of the privatization of the DNS, which was first outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997.

We believe the timing is right for this transition, and a broad group of stakeholders – both domestically and internationally – have expressed their support and cooperation in this process.

Cisco commended NTIA for outlining a “powerful process for the move towards full privatization and globalization of DNS management.” Microsoft said it “relies on the stability, resilience and security of the DNS system to enable our cloud services – and we are confident that now is the right time to complete this transition.”  Other industry giants like AT&T, Verizon, and Google, similarly issued statements in support of our announcement. 

NTIA Brings Broadband Opportunities to Alaska

March 11, 2014 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Last week, I traveled to Anchorage for the annual economic summit hosted by the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, a non-profit regional economic development organization. The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference is working to improve the quality of life and drive responsible development across the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, Bristol Bay, the Kodiak Archipelago and the Pribilof Islands.

Last week’s summit had a packed agenda, covering everything from energy conservation to sustainable fishing practices. One big topic of conversation was broadband and the power of high-speed Internet to open up economic, educational and social opportunities in some of the poorest, most isolated communities in our nation.

It’s no wonder that the Alaska state nickname is “The Last Frontier.” The state is more than double the size of Texas, with more than 3 million lakes, 34,000 miles of shoreline, and 29,000 square miles of ice fields. But with fewer than 750,000 residents, Alaska includes some of the most remote, sparsely populated pockets of the U.S. Many Alaska Natives reside in tiny villages with just a few hundred people and lead subsistence lifestyles.

Broadband offers these communities a way to connect with the wider world and access everything from online classes to healthcare services to job opportunities. It also offers Alaska Natives a way to preserve their indigenous culture for future generations and share it with a global audience.

At the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we see first-hand evidence of this through our investments in several Alaska broadband projects:

NTIA Working With States on FirstNet Planning

February 28, 2014 by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator of the Office of Public Safety Communications

As part of our efforts to help ensure the success of the nation’s first nationwide public safety broadband network, NTIA this week hosted the first of two workshops to help states and territories provide input and prepare for the launch of the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network.

This week’s workshop, held in Atlanta for Eastern states, allowed attendees to meet with FirstNet officials on the progress of state consultation and planning for the public safety network. A second workshop is scheduled for March 11-12 in Phoenix for Western states.

NTIA launched the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) last summer to provide grants to states and territories to support planning, consultation and outreach activities in preparation for the launch of the FirstNet network. NTIA awarded more than $116 million in grants to assist states and territories in planning for the FirstNet network.

In addition to providing a forum for state and territory officials to interact with FirstNet staff, the workshops allow states to discuss how planning is going, to learn from each other on stakeholder outreach and governance structures, and to develop regional connections and collaboration. At the same time, NTIA officials provide grant recipients with information on how to ensure they comply with conditions of their grant awards.

States and territories will be key to the success of FirstNet, and NTIA is working hard to ensure they have ample opportunity to provide valuable input on the development of the nation’s first public safety broadband network.

Working to Close the Digital Divide in Silicon Valley

February 25, 2014 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Silicon Valley has long been a hub of technological innovation and promise in our country. It’s the birthplace of iconic technology companies such as Intel, Apple, Cisco, and Google. And regions across the country – and even around the world – attempt to emulate its success.

This week, I joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and other Commerce Department leaders in travelling to Silicon Valley to promote the Department’s initiatives to spur U.S. economic growth, innovation, and competitiveness.

We’re meeting with leaders of technology powerhouses, fledgling start-ups, and venture capitalists funding the next big idea. Yet, we recognize that not everyone in the region has shared in the wealth created in Silicon Valley. Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with a number of groups including the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), the Chicana/Latina Foundation, the Latino Community Foundation, and others that are working tirelessly across the state to close the digital divide.

Leaders from Silicon Valley-area community groups gather with Assistant Secretary Strickling
Leaders from Silicon Valley-area community groups gather with Assistant Secretary Strickling to talk about bridging the digital divide.

Spotlight on NTIA: Lee Dixon, office manager, Office of Chief Counsel

February 21, 2014 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Photo of Lee DixonLee Dixon hasn’t had a career. He’s had many careers: Air Force entertainer, jet mechanic, military recruiter, personnel technician, piano lounge singer, security guard, ordained Baptist minister, and most recently office manager for NTIA’s Office of Chief Counsel.

But perhaps the one role he can’t seem to get away from is singer. One of his first professional moments in the spotlight came in the Air Force, when he spent two years as a member of the Air Force’s highly acclaimed entertainment troupe known as “Tops in Blue.” He traveled the world to entertain Air Force members stationed abroad.  In the years since then, he has sung at weddings and other events and even had a two-month stint accompanying a piano player at a club in Florida.

A few years ago, he auditioned and clinched a spot as one of the lead singers for an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band – taking on many of the songs sung by the band’s legendary leader Maurice White. He spent just under two years with the band, traveling up and down the East Coast and performing at such clubs as BB Kings Blues Club in New York City. The frequent travel got to be too much of a grind, which is why he decided to drop out, Dixon says.

Members of Earth, Wind and Fire Tribute Band

NTIA Applauds DoD’s Spectrum Strategy Efforts

February 20, 2014 by Karl Nebbia, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

The U.S. Defense Department (DoD) took an important step forward today in support of the Administration’s plans to make additional spectrum available for wireless broadband, issuing a spectrum strategy document.  We applaud DoD’s efforts and look forward to continued collaboration with DoD and other federal agencies as we explore new and innovative approaches to meet the exploding demand for spectrum.

Through its Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy, DoD recognizes that meeting the military’s mission requirements amidst the growing commercial and consumer demand will require cooperation, compatibility, and flexibility.  Indeed, a key focus of its plan is to develop spectrum-dependent systems that are efficient, flexible, and adaptable in their use of the spectrum.

Recognizing the important role spectrum plays in continued innovation, job creation, and economic growth, the Administration is moving aggressively to enhance spectrum efficiency and enable access to more spectrum for consumer services and applications.  The long-term spectrum needs for government agencies and industry alike will be met primarily through sharing, and NTIA is asking for a top-to-bottom commitment from all stakeholders to make it happen.

Working to Provide a Better National Broadband Map

February 20, 2014 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Since its launch in 2011, the National Broadband Map, a joint project of NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been providing key data on where broadband is available throughout the country and who is providing it. Today, we’re rolling out the seventh edition of the map. In addition to providing updated data, the latest version of the broadband map includes some enhancements such as a more detailed summary page for each state as well as additional information about broadband providers and their subsidiaries.

The latest data, from June 30, 2013, shows the country continues to make steady progress in expanding access to broadband. Most Americans have access to wired broadband (93 percent), while 98 percent have access to wireless broadband at the most basic broadband speed, defined at 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 768 kilobits per second (kbps) up. The data also show that 99 percent of the U.S. population has access to this basic broadband through either a wired or wireless service. Here are other highlights from the latest data:

Digital Learning Program Prepares Students for School, Careers and Life in the 21st Century

February 05, 2014 by NTIA

Today is Digital Learning Day, a nationwide celebration of the innovative use of technology in education to improve learning and prepare students to succeed in college and careers in the 21st century.  

The Obama administration recognizes the critical importance of digital learning to our nation’s future.  Just yesterday, the White House announced over $750 million in private-sector commitments to supply free software, devices, home wireless connectivity and professional development support for teachers. These pledges bring us an important step closer to achieving the President’s ConnectED goal to get ultra-fast Internet connections and educational technology into K-12 classrooms nationwide.

NTIA has already enabled major advances in connecting schools to broadband and building the foundation for digital learning both in the classroom and beyond. Through our Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), NTIA invested in roughly 230 projects nationwide to expand access to and use of broadband. Our network infrastructure projects are linking approximately 10,000 educational institutions to high-speed Internet. Our digital literacy training and broadband adoption programs are ensuring that teachers, students and parents have the skills and resources to take advantage of these high-speed connections. And our public computer center projects are providing Internet access to those who don’t have it at home.

NTIA to Convene First Facial Recognition Technology Multistakeholder Meeting

February 05, 2014 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

This week, the Commerce Department is taking an important step in our campaign to drive innovation and better protect consumer privacy in the digital economy. On Thursday, the agency’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will bring together representatives from technology companies, trade groups, consumer groups, academic institutions and other organizations to kick off an effort to craft privacy safeguards for the commercial use of facial recognition technology

This initiative is the second “multistakeholder process” launched by NTIA to implement the Obama Administration’s consumer data privacy framework. The centerpiece of that framework is the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which lays out high-level principles for protecting consumer privacy in today’s networked world. The multistakeholder processes will establish voluntary, enforceable codes of conduct to apply the Bill of Rights in specific business contexts.

Facial recognition technology is being embedded into everything from social networking services in the virtual world to building access systems in the physical one. Online services are adopting facial recognition software to help consumers organize their personal photos. Video games are using face prints to customize the gaming experience. And bricks-and-mortar retailers are employing recognition-enabled cameras to identify customers and reduce fraud.