This is a collection of useful links about wireless technology and regulation. At the end are also some travel links about France and Japan where I have lived.
General Information on Radio Technology
You could do worse than starting with the Wikipedia entries on "radio" , "radio frequency" , "wireless communications" , "antenna" and mobile radio telephones (which includes links to discussions of a wide variety of cell phone technologies.) I admit it - I am a Wikipedia fan and contributor, but have had no role in these specific entries.
For books on the topic for nonengineers, I recommend Tomasi's Electronic Communications Systems - apparently a junior college textbook; and the ARRL Handbook - - intended for radio amateurs but many parts have general utility and all are straightforward. We used the Tomasi book at FCC as a key part of a basic course on radio technology and policy. A classic, intellectually elegant, but slightly dated, survey of telecom technology is J.R. Pierce's Signals.
Two new websites with general information on spectrum are SpectrumWiki, which is implementing a Wikipedia-like group sourcing plan for updates, and the less comprehensive Wireless Spectrum Review that deals on mobile radio issues.
A more advanced general reference is Reference Data for Engineers Radio, Electronics, Computer & Communications, often called by its original name, the "ITT Handbook". Finally, with a 1984 publication date, Telecommunications: An Interdisciplinary Text would seem to be hopelessly out of date. Parts of it are. But this pioneering text from the University of Colorado's telecom program has some good background information and Chapters 2 and 3 on FCC are incomparable.
A great source of links for information on cognitive radio technology and policy issues is IEEE SCC 41's Cognitive Radio Information Center .
In the microwave area, microwaves101.com has a good encyclopedia.
Essentials of Modern Spectrum Management by three pioneers of modern UK spectrum policy is a very interesting discussion of modern spectrum policy, not the standard CEPT approach.
Two interesting books from Japanese friends on new technologies that are not written for specialists:
Modern Millimeter-Wave Technologies
Ultra Wideband Signals and Systems in Communication Engineering
Radio propagation tutorial for beginners
SpectrumWise Links Page - A set of both technology and spectrum policy links from an Australian consultant.
International Telecommunications Union
ITU generally charges for documents, but at present ITU-R recommendations are free!
Need to find the name and contact information of the telecommunications regulator in Belize? How about a carrier in Niger? Start your search here.
ICT Regulation Toolkit - A training course on communications policy issues with a lot of good background information.
ITU Radio Regulations (Includes ITU allocation table)
General US Spectrum Information
I strongly recommend Benn Kobb's book, Wireless Spectrum Finder, as a general source of information on US spectrum. It is a little dated now, published in 2001, but most of the information is still accurate. Sometimes copies can be found in book stores, but Amazon has used copies and a download version.
Let's suppose you absolutely must have a spectrum chart. I really don't recommend it since Benn Kobb's book, discussed above, is a lot more useful. But here are some options:
If you really need a copy of the NTIA-produced US allocation chart, click on the above miniature. Just know that I feel that it is confusing and misleading
NAF has its own answer to the NTIA spectrum chart. Neither tell the full story, but they are complementary. Click the above chart for a link.
If you really want a cool chart that will impress your friends, try this cool interactive chart -- again, it really isn't that useful. But it's cute!
But for something both cute and useful, try the iPhone/iPod touch app Allocations to have the allocation table at your fingertip.
The new FCC Spectrum Dashboard is still in beta but is a promising tool for looking at spectrum
Spectrum News -- US focus
These sites all provide some free spectrum news information - some have paid components also. Many of these new letters have a free e-mail version you can sign up for if you lack incoming e-mail
FCC Daily Digest - The daily official list of every document the FCC releases.
MIC Communications News - Biweekly newsletter of the Japanese regulator
ITU News - Monthly newsletter of ITU that requires free registration
Warren Communications News - a website with general communications news and tempting information
about Communications Daily, their expensive flagship publication.
Telecommunications Reports - focuses on telecom issues but some spectrum coverage. (Note FCC employees get access to both TR and CommDaily through a special bulk purchase so this is what they read every morning.)
Broadcasting & Cable - published by Variety magazine, this is the premier broadcasting business magazine. It also contains spectrum-related broadcasting news and some good timely gossip about FCC. Note that they are not just reporters but advocates for their industry - so be suspicious about their objectivity.
TVTechnology - Better coverage of technical details of TV broadcasting than B&C, but less plugged in on policy issues.
RCR Wireless News - A widely read newsletter for mobile and cellular issues.
WirelessWeek - a good weekly news letter on wireless industry and technology with a nice website.
Fierce Wireless includes a great links page that can keep you going forever.
InStat Wireless Research - A market research firm's free newsletter on wireless trends including news about their expensive publications
openspectrum.info - A European site that focuses on worldwide unlicensed issues and is the source for the news on the homepage of this site
Fire the FCC.com - A website sharply critical of FCC broadcasting policy. Not much on spectrum policy per se, but a very different viewpoint than other sources.
Pike & Fischer - Need the text of an FCC decision more than 10 years old? Want to do a search of all proposals and decisions using a powerful search engine? Want FCC-related court decisions? [Note to non-Anglosaxons: US has a common law, not civil law, legal system and previous decisions really matter.] If it realtes to telecom, P&F has it for you at a price. So do their more general legal service competitors:
Lexis and WestLaw - These has everything P&F has, in addition they can access essentially the whole of US jurisprudence.These services require expensive annual subscriptions. WestLaw offers credit card per document pricing but at present this does not apply to FCC documents. If you have a one time need for some documents, try asking these companies for a short free trial.
FindLaw - This is an advertiser-supported site for lawyers that provides some legal information. What is of primary interest to readers is access to court decisons.
Loislaw - This is a site with a variety of pricing options including one day access. It offers access to state and federal laws and court cases but not FCC decisions.
RFDesign - More technology than policy, but a good source for the latest technology that may become a policy issue. Good coverage of millimeterwave and software defined radio topics.
Federal Communications Law Journal - The premier journal on all aspects of FCC legal issues, not just spectrum.
Law firm Publications - Major law firms that do substantial communications regulatory work publish free newsletters for clients and prospective clients. Here are several with a spectrum/telecom focus:
Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis Regulatory Newsletter
Wiley Rein & Fielding Wireless Watch
Hogan & Hartson Telecom Publications
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth FHH Telecom Law
Spectrum News -Not focused on US
PolicyTracker - A UK-based site that focuses on European spectrum news and includes a paid component.
Rethink - Policy Tracker and Rethink are subscription newsletters that have free components
Arnold & Porter European Telecoms Newsletter - Law firm newsletter
Global Auction Alert - news of spectrum auctions around the world
Spectrum News - Asia Focus
Electronic Engineering Times - Asia More of an electronics industry magazine, but some spectrum news
Thomas Welter Spectrum Blog - A compendium of many articles on spectrum policy
Federal Communications Commission
Telephone & e-mail directory
FCC Rules from GPO's e-cfr site - always up to date!
FCC Record - all decisions since 1986 (From University of North Texas' Digital Library.)
Key FCC Annual Reports
FCC is required by law to submit several industry status reports to Congress each year. Due to the chaotic nature of the FCC web site it is challenging to find them. As a service to the public, MSS provides here a consolidated list of links.
Office of Engineering and Technology
Responsible for spectrum allocations, experimental licenses, and equipment authorization program
Responsible for most nonbroadcast licensing and radio service rules
Wireless Services A useful page maintained by WTB giving an overview of the radio service they regulate with links to appropriate rules. Sadly, the rest of FCC does not have a comparable page.
Resposible for ITU matters, bilateral agreements, and satellite licensing and rules
FCC Strategic Plan 2006 - 2011
Title sounds impressive, but content is pretty general. But it is the official party line
Communications Act of 1934 (47 USC §151 et seq. )
FCC comment deadlines are all given relative to the Federal Register publication date of the document. The document may be published in a few days or possibly 2 months later. So to confirm the actual date you have to go see what is printed in the Federal Register. The new regulations.gov site is supposed to be an alternative to this and appears to give the actual due date. (You can also file comments through the regulations.gov site.) Note that the Federal Register date is considered to be the definitve date.
In theory the Unified Agenda " summarizes the rules and proposed rules that each Federal agency expects to issue during the next six months. " Thus searching on "Federal Communications Commission" should give a prediction on what topics the FCC is about to act on. Don't bet your company on this data!
Memorandum of Understanding between FCC and NTIA (1/03)
This document describes how FCC and NTIA have agreed to work with each other (in theory) on spectrum issues that impact both agencies. The 2003 changes were the first revisions in almost 60 years.
This is the place to file comments with FCC or to look up comments that have been filed by others. Unfortunately you need to know the docket number and there is no simple way to find it in general. (But in the special case of dockets originating from OET, there is a simpler way.)
This is the systems for searching for documents on FCC actions, e.g. proposals and decisions.
Spectrum Policy Task Force In 2002, at the direction of Chmn. Powell, the FCC staff did a major review of spectrum policy and produced a set of reports with bold recommendations. Some recommendations were initiated, most await action. The SPTF appears seems to have been dissolved in 2005 without any announcement - like in China and the former Soviet Union you have to infer this from hints. SPTF faded out of existence in 2005-6 without any formal announcement. The website implies it may exist, but that is just a lack of clarity.
This page has links to the current US allocation table and 3 less well known history files:
FCC Allocation History File- "Each Commission document that proposes to amend or that amends the Table of Frequency Allocations and its associated news release is available for downloading in the FCC Allocation History File. The History File contains the complete citation for each document, including information concerning its publication in the Federal Register and in the FCC Record. The History File also contains the changes to the Table."
FCC Service Rule History File - "A separate history file is maintained for those Commission documents that, while not affecting the Table of Frequency Allocations, directly pertain to the regulation of the radio spectrum (service rules)."
History File for FCC Reports "A separate history file is maintained for those Commission documents that do not amend the Table of Frequency Allocations or service rules, but that directly pertain to the regulation of radio spectrum. These documents are available for downloading in the History File for FCC Reports and Other Spectrum Related Releases"
Unofficial FCC Spectrum Chart
FCC does not have an "official" spectrum chart like NTIA (see below), but in November 2002 Evan Kwerel and John Williams published on the FCC web site an alternative way to look at spectrum use. Note that this chart has not been updated so may only be about 95% correct now.
Description of Allocation Terminology
Band Plans for Auctions
FCC often isn't very graphical in explaining band plans, but the Auctions Division of Wireless does a good job with bands that are about to be auctioned. Note that this information may not be necessarily updated to show changes in adjacent bands after the specific auction and hence might be out of date.
These are public presentations at FCC on technical topics of policy interest. The newer ones can be watched online - if you have broadband. The older ones can be purchased at a nominal cost. (Disclosure - I started this program and appear in many of the early tapes and some of the later ones.)
While the FCC website has lots of information, it is often very difficult to find what you want. This page is an exception and gives updates due dates for comments in all the rulemakings OET is responsible for. Also included are direct links to the docket files. The rest of the FCC should copy this!
Equipment authorization data
What to see what commercial equipment is sold in a certain band? Want to see details on a certain piece of equipment such as schematics and interior photos? Surf on over!
Experimental license filing
Universal License System search
Despite its name ULS is not really "universal". It does not include any Federal Government users and has most, but not all, FCC licenses. You can search on location and/or frequency.
Media Bureau databases
Broadcast licenses data
Simplified Media Bureau search tools
The other major exception to the "universality" of ULS is this system which deals with various items in the jurisdiction of the FCC International Bureau including satellites, earth stations, and HF broadcasting.
US preparation for WRC-07
This is the place for US private sector participation in WRC-07. The level of transparency is mixed here.
Ex parte rules
If you will be contacting FCC about a pending rulemaking (or adjudicatory matter) you must know and follow these rules. Unfortunately they are difficult to read and the FCC explanations are not much better. (The Media Access Project has a more understandable explanation of these rules.)
FCC Annual Reports 1935-1998
Lots of interesting historical information including the reports of the FCC's predecessor back to 1925. Post 1998 reports are hard to locate. Here are some of them: 2000 2003 2004 2005
A web site with lots of info on cell phones sold in the US including a convenient link to the FCC Lab's website with technical details on them. The FCC site may have a more detail manual than the one that comes with the phone! You can also see for your self what the SAR is for the phone - something the cellular industry did not want you to know. (To find SAR for a model, click on the FCC ID in the PhoneScoop site for the model you are interested in. When you get to the FCC site, click on the check mark under "Show Grant". SAR data is on the bottom of the FCC authorization document.)
For access to state and federal laws, well indexed FCC decisions, and federal court cases, go to these links above.
FCC Radio Intelligence Division During WWII
The History of the Radio Intelligence Division Before and During World War II
A collection of articles and manuscript of George E. Sterling
Chief, Radio Intelligence Division (1940-1946), FCC Commissioner (1948-1954) Edited by E. Merle Glunt & Albert A. Evangelista
THE U.S. HUNT FOR AXIS AGENT RADIOS by George E. Sterling (From CIA website)
Foreign Broadcast Information Service History (From CIA website)
FBIS Against the Axis, 1941-1945 (From CIA website)
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Under the Communications Act of 1934, FCC regulates all spectrum use in the US except that of federal agencies. The Act gives that responsibility to the President who has in turn delegated it to NTIA.
Office of Spectrum Management
This is the counterpart to the FCC Rules for federal spectrum users. Note, however, that NTIA does not have to follow these as rigidly as the FCC follows its Rules with the public.
Spectrum Use Summary 137 MHz - 10 GHz
A useful, but dated, August 1997 summary of how various bands are actually used that uses normal English not ITU jargon.
Planning Version of the National (Spectrum) Table
A 2000 update of the previous document that has more information on both present and planned federal spectrum use in more bands, 30 MHz to 1000 GHz , but omits the FCC-regulated bands that were discussed in the 1997 version. Another interesting feature is that it talks about ITU activities for bands that were pending at the time of writing. It would be really nice if FCC and NTIA could work together to create a new updated document with the best features of both the 1997 and 2000 documents.
Spectrum Policy Report 6/04
Part 1 Part 2
Federal Spectrum Use Summary 30 MHz – 3000 GHz, 6/10
In response to a White House request, NTIA and the federal agencies using spectrum prepared these reports for the President's Spectrum Policy Initiative. Policy wonks might want to compare them with the FCC's Spectrum Policy Task Force Report which was prepared in a much shorter period.
Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee
While NTIA will vehemently deny it, most of their spectrum decisions are made by the IRAC which meets every 2 weeks in a windowless room in the Commerce Department. The members represent most federal agencies that use spectrum. Their site isn't too informative but it does have a list of members.
Freedom Techologies NTIA Watch
A blog on developments at NTIA published by the consulting firm headed by former NTIA head, Janice Obuchowski.
Think Tanks and Associations
New America Foundation Wireless Futures Program
In all honesty NAF is a sometimes client. They have a refreshing nonestablishment view of spectrum issues and many publications.
The Cartoon Guide to Federal Spectrum Policy What if the Government Regulated Spoken Words the Way It Regulates the Airwaves? An NAF publication.
Internet Economy Project at George Mason University Home of former FCC Chief Economist Tom Hazlett. Focus is not spectrum, but spectrum is a recurring interest.
Progress & Freedom Foundation A think tank to the right of NAF wiht a storng interest in telecom.
Telecommunications Policy Research Conference
TPRC is an annual conference with participation from academia and industry on new ideas in telecom policy. Many of the papers represent early stages of new ideas, some will become policy years later. There is an archive of previous papers.
Federal Communications Bar Association
Need a lawyer for a telecom problem? Don't use the yellow pages! If the outcome of a policy issue will have a large impact on your business you need professional help. This is the FCBA committee listing and is a good indication of which lawyers deal with each area. You might also try contacting a committee chair and describe what you are looking for or you could contact me for for some recommendations.
Telecommunications Industry Association
TIA is both an important standards organization for communications products and an advocate for its members before FCC and Congress. It is also a good source of sales data and projections for electronic equipment but charges for many of such publications.
Society of Broadcast Engineers
Association of engineers in broadcast industry and coordinator for many of their frequencies
Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association
Represents most of the cellular industry
Represents a variety of commercial non cellular wireless operators, including WISPs and millimeterwave firms
Wireless Communications Alliance A Silicon Valley-based "non-profit business league dedicated to providing education, connection, and community for companies, organizations, and individuals involved with wireless technologies."
Wireless Internet Service Providers Association
Land Mobile Communications Council
LMCC is an association of land mobile user groups and often files for them at FCC on spectrum issues. It bills itself as "The Umbrella Organization of Public Safety, Infrastructure, & Business Wireless Communications".
National Spectrum Managers Association
NSMA bills itself as "a voluntary international association of microwave radio/wireless and satellite frequency coordinators, licensees, manufacturers and regulators."
National Assocation of Broadcasters
American Radio Relay League
Represents amateur radio operators in the US. (If you have a US ham license, you should join even if you don't agree with all their positions - I sometimes don't agree either but I am a loyal member and tell them what I think.)
National Frequency Allocation Tables
Links to the tables of various countries
ITU Radio Regulations (Purchase only, 252 CHF)
European Common Allocations for 2008+
Bosnia and Herzegovina
France (Table is called "TABLEAU NATIONAL DE REPARTITION DES BANDES DE FREQUENCES")
Germany (Table is in German only and is copy protected, but the format is very interesting and novel.)
USA (There are insignificant differences between FCC and NTIA tables.)
An unofficial table that is more practical than these official tables.
This section is for websites with tools for spectrum-related calculations. I welcome suggestions for additional sites. (Needless to say, MSS makes no guarantees about the accuracy of calculations from these sites.)
Hammett & Edison calculators - broadcast related
NIST outdoor propagation calculator - a free Excel spreadsheet download requiring registration
Q-par antenna design calculator - a free Windows download
Free Space Loss Calculators Option 1 Option 2
Microwave and radar calculators
Radiated Power Calculator: ERP, EIRP & dBuV/m
TV channel/Frequency chart (Include CATV channel frequencies)
Andrew calculators - mobile radio related
Links in Japan (English language sites only)
Prime Minister's Website
Good entry point to Japanese Government with some similarity to US' firstgov.gov Includes organization chart with links to major agencies
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Japan's telecom regulator. Site includes links to laws , statistics , and biweekly newsletter. There's a lot of information and some propaganda. While requests for public comment are often announced here, you really have to go to the Japanese side of the site to get details on proposals. (But then again, FCC doesn't have any information in Japanese on its site.)
Information and Communications Statistics Database (MIC)
Include both telecom statistics and links to other MIC and outside English sites.
Radio Use Website
MIC's website for details about radio regulation in Japan.
Public comment procedures in Japan
The equivalent of the Administrative procedures Act in Japan for rulemaking is this cabinet order. Since it is not a law, it is difficult to challenge noncompliance.
TELEC is what I call a "quasigovernmental entity" in Japan. There are many such agencies that perform governmental-like functions but are not formally agencies. TELEC performs many of the equipment authorization functions of the FCC Laboratory.
ARIB, the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses, is also a quasigovernmental organization although it sees itself as more like TIA in the US. Its main activity of interest to foreigners is developing technical standards, which in Japan have much more influence than "voluntary standards" in the US.
Equipment authorization in Japan. A quick overview of the US/Japan Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Other Japan Links - In response to many requests, here are some general links on Japan in English.
Visits to Imperial Palace ground in Tokyo Advanced application needed. Same website also handles Imperial sites in Kyoto area.
Newspapers with English sites:
Japan Times - Published only in English - although the majority of its readers are Japanese! A middle of the road political viewpoint. Much of its news comes from domestic wireservices intended for regional newspapers. The print edition has useful information for foreign visitors including a good set of comics. (Note a pet peeve about the JT print version : if you are outside of a few major cities the JT delivers a paper with day old news [and comics] but the current date as a solution to their distribution problems!)
Asahi Shimbun - Left of center newspaper that is one of the largest in Japan. Good web site but printed version hard to find in Tokyo.
The Japan News is published by the Yomiuri newspaper - Japan's largest newspaper and rather right wing. The print edition contains includes news from US papers that are liberal in viewpoint.
Metropolis - "Japan's No. 1 English Magazine" An English weekly for expats in Tokyo, it has little news but lots of information on events and activities in Tokyo. A lot of restaurant listings with websites given.
Japan Travel Information
Washington Post article on advice for first time tourists to Japan.
Hotel search engines that include reasonably-price hotels. ("Business hotels" are clean efficient hotels with reasonable prices and small rooms.)
Hostelworld - Despite the name has both hostels and low cost hotels
Moderate priced hotel chains:
Route Inn Hotels
Super Hotel (small but very efficiently designed rooms)
YouTube videos on travel in Japan:
Hotel room tour
More Affordable “business hotel” room
Traditional Japanese Hotels:
Japan Guest Houses - An English language site specializing in traditional hotels of various price ranges
Japan Inn Group - More focused on moderate prices and rural areas
Capsule Inn Akihibara - Foreigners have all heard of "capsule hotels". They actually exist, but don't have a major role. I have never stayed in one, but here's an English web site for one in a convenient part of Tokyo if you must have this experience. It accepts both male and female guests.
Love hotels are another special category of hotels. They rent rooms by the hour during the day/"rest". But they have a "stay" rate that applies after 9 or 10 PM to 9 or 10 AM the next morning that is often quite reasonable for a large room. While much of the clientele use the facilities for trysts, married couples and singles are welcomed also. These hotels cater to the local market and generally have no English speaking staff or websites. In this type of business reservations aren't available. My wife and I have stayed in them a few times while traveling and have even vouchered the overnight cost as an FCC travel expense for reimbursement. A new website with helpful details in English.
Other tourist information
Train information - Links to the major railroads
Tokyo arrival information: Taxis from Narita Airport (NRT) to Tokyo are famously expensive. Better options are: 1) the "Limousine Bus" that goes to major hotels, if it doesn't go to yours ask the ticket sellers what is the closest major hotel and then take a taxi at the end. 2) Train - either JR Narita Express or Keisei Skyliner. Train is faster, but difficult if you are not traveling light. Keisei only goes to 2 stations in Tokyo, JR has more options and includes an option for buying a "Suica" payment card for subway and rail. (YouTube Suica instruction videos)
JR Online Timetable - Search engine for largest rail system in Japan
Tokyo Metro - Information on Tokyo subway (Actually there are two different organizations running different parts of the Tokyo subway and a 3rd organization running the trains that interconnect with the subway. Consult a good guidebook for details. Tokyo subways and buses and Tokyo area JR accept Suica card for payment as well in rail systems in some other urban areas. The Suica has a 500 yen purchase fee but greatly simplifies payment in a confusing fare systems.)
Tokyo Transfer Guide - Site tells you how to get from on station to another with transfers, estimates travel time, and gives fares for alternative routes - which can vary a lot due to the 3 different operators mentioned above.
Japan National Tourist Organization - Government agency promoting tourism with many useful links
Tokyo Pocket Guide - Publishers of a free guide for tourists. The website has detailed maps of areas of most interest and ads for tourist-oriented businesses.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government - Tourist website of local government. Includes hotel search engine. (Note this engine include some locations way out of downtown so be sure of the location you ask for.) Site has events guide and suggestions for places to visit. Restaurant Finder from Tokyo Metropolitan Government which helps you find restaurants with various cuisines and with English menus. Includes maps - key since addresses are otherwise hard to find in Japan.
Yokoso!Japan - Another general tourist site
Hot spring information - I am a great fan of traditional Japanese hot springs (onsen)
Video on using onsens (From TexaninTokyo)
Cell phone use for visitors in Japan - Japanese concerns about 'security", combined with protectionism for local mainstream companies, have combined to preclude many cell phone options for visitors that are available in other countries. Basically, nonresidents can't get the cheapest options that are available for residents of Japan. However, foreign 3G phones do work in Japan but check with your provider to be certain of actual cost of use. Anonymous pay-as-you go is not allowed, ID is needed for phone rental. Some options:
TelecomSquare -Convenient pickup and drop off of phone at airport
au/KDDI - Site is vague about whether they allow prepaid service for nonresidents, in any case it isn't full featured service
ANA will loan "free" cell phones to customers flying to Japan on ANA - you only pay for outgoing calls made, not use of phone.
Pocket Wi-Fi is more common in Japan than its US counterpart MiFi. It is a pocket sized Wi-Fi router that gets Internet from a cellphone network. Thus it will get Internet for your laptop and will make your smartphone able to use Skype.
Learning Japanese - Japanese has a reputation for being nearly impossible to learn. Indeed, it is nearly impossible for a native anglophone to become as fluent in Japanese as one might get in French or Spanish with reasonable amounts of study - unless you start at a young age and have a lot of total immersion. However, with reasonable amounts of effort you can learn a lot of the spoken language and even the written language - if you limit yourself to reasonable goals. (The textbook Basic Technical Japanese has a good explanation about how you can make real progress in the written language by choosing realistic goals. It turns out that technical Japanese is a modest subset of the whole language.)
Japan-America Society of Washington Language School - "Been there, done that" A good place to start if you live in DC area. Low cost and not too intense. If you like it, you might want to move to something more intensive.
Japanese Classes in DC
Japanese Embassy Language Links Page
Jim Breen's Japanese Page - a useful collection of links about Japan and the Japanese language
WWWJDIC: Online Japanese Dictionary Service - A web-based Japanese-English dictionary. (Downloads available for stand alone use.)
Tumbleweed's Resources for Learning Japanese
NHK Learn Japanese Online Website
Japan Times' Kanji Clinic - regular columns on learning kanji
Kanji Clinic's recommended websites for kanji study
Japan for kids - a useful collection of links on Japan for children who might join you on a trip
So you think the guy who used to live in Paris has some useful information about your pending visit. Here is the beginning of an effort to help you
Useful Paris Links
Climate Data Tokyo has several English publications for expats with news and advertising, Paris doesn't really have anything comparable since the IHT, under NYTimes ownership, now virtually ignores its home market in Paris. However 2 sites fill in a lot of what is needed:
Expatica.com has local news in English and local ads
FUSAC , a giveaway magazine, has housing (including short term rentals), language school, and classified ads
Hotel booking sites (for reasonably priced hotels):
www.bestwestern.com (Despite its American name, best western is true to its French motto "Les Plus Francais des Hotels Internationaux"/The most French of the international hotel chains. Since hotels are independently owned, they usually are very local in nature as opposed to the lower cost parts of Accor, below.)
www.accor.com (Accor is a huge Franch chain, also owning Motel 6 in US. Their European properties span many price ranges. The lower price ones are as impersonal as Holiday Inns in the US.)
In addition to the usual Avis, Hertz, and National options, there are ADA, Sixt, and Rent a Car, European operators that should be considered. For long rentals check for discounts if you buy a "fidelity card".
Restaurant information - I suggest you either buy the red Guide Michelin or subscribe online to Zagat (which is quite reasonable if you travel a lot since their site covers most US cities and many foreign ones.) Michelin now has a free website, requiring registration, that gives you access to much of the information in their red guide with the additional feature that you can list restaurants in terms of distance from a location you specify. Some people have strong negative feelings about Michelin ratings while other swear by them. While I am not impressed by US guidebooks on French restaurants, there are many French language restaurant guides available in Paris bookstores/librairies. If you must eat at a top Paris restaurant, e.g. with Michelin stars, reserve a table weeks in advance. Restaurants, including top ones, are generally much cheaper at lunch time.
My favorite French event is a wine fair. Vignerons Independants, a trade association of small growers, have several fairs throughout the year in Paris and other major cities. If you have an interest in wine, try to visit one. Some producers speak English, but most transactions can be managed by the monolingual.]
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