Modernizing Wireless Licensing at the FCC

The FCC is excited to announce the first steps in our effort to modernize our Universal Licensing System (ULS), the system used to license wireless radio services for commercial, private, public safety, and personal use.  The goal of the modernization initiative is to transition ULS to a new, integrated, cloud-based platform that will enable FCC staff, licensees, and other stakeholders to conduct electronic licensing activities with more consistent performance, easier access to information, and enhanced functionality, such as the use of APIs to improve the ability of licensees to utilize information from ULS.

ULS initially was developed in the 1990s to move the FCC’s wireless licensing functions out of the paper world and into an electronic world with a consolidated public interface and 100% e-filing capability.  Today, ULS holds at least two million active licenses, handles approximately 250,000 monthly actions such as application filing, and serves as an important research tool for numerous stakeholders and the public.  Modernizing ULS is one of several major IT initiatives the agency is undertaking to update its technical platforms to provide better, faster, and more agile functionality for internal and external users, and to reduce costs associated with building and maintaining IT infrastructure, consistent with the FCC’s process reform objectives.

ULS is an essential tool for the agency to achieve its core mission as much as it is an essential tool for outside stakeholders to manage their operations effectively.  Given the scope of this initiative, modernization of this system will be a multi-year project and will require considerable planning, commitment, and patience.   We will begin by working to transition to the new platform three services selected to test a range of functions and meet operational needs – General Mobile Radio Services, 3650 – 3700 MHz, and Point-to-Point Microwave.  Additional wireless radio services will be sequenced over the life of the project, and transition of additional licensing systems for non-wireless services will be considered in the future as well.  Further, as part of this effort, we will consider other ways to improve users’ experience over time, such as integrating greater mapping (geospatial information system) functionality and integrating ULS with other FCC databases (for example, National Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), with a goal of reducing data entry burdens and improving correlation of data to support advanced analytic methods.

Communication with ULS licensees and end-users is paramount to the success of our modernization efforts.  We will engage licensees throughout our process and will solicit input so we can address concerns and ensure a smooth transition.  Stay tuned as we work with stakeholders throughout the duration of this initiative, and we will be providing ongoing updates as progress unfolds.


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