Government Officials Evaluate Spectrum Management at NTIA’s Spectrum Policy Symposium | Wiley Kidney LLP


On September 19, 2022, the NTIA hosted its fifth annual Spectrum Policy Symposium where senior officials from the Department of Commerce, NTIA, FCC, DoD, and other agencies spoke about spectrum management. spectrum in the United States. Members of Congress and Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU-D and candidate for the post of Secretary-General of ITU, also delivered remarks. A common theme to all speakers: the need to collectively rethink existing spectrum management policies to enable continued innovation and rapid deployment of communications services.

Mid-band spectrum: Midband spectrum, which provides both coverage and capacity, continues to be a priority. FCC Chairman Rosenworcel noted the FCC’s recent auction of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz and 3.45 GHz bands and reiterated her call to look next at spectrum in the 7-16 range. GHz. She also said the FCC had shared a draft notice of investigation with the NTIA that would seek comments on the reallocation of spectrum in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band for wireless use. The FCC is expected to vote on this at its October public meeting. DoD Chief Information Officer John Sherman said there may be ways to allow greater use of the 3.1-3.45 GHz band while protecting critical defense systems.

Spectrum sharing technologies: Government officials have continued to point to spectrum sharing – rather than reallocation – as a way to maximize spectrum use. They pointed out that government users depend on the spectrum for military defense, public safety, weather forecasting, scientific research, and more. They also depend on industry, which uses commercial spectrum to provide services to the government. The commercial sector, meanwhile, will need more spectrum to meet growing consumer connectivity needs and enable the continued innovation that drives the US economy. In addition to the broadband citizen radio service model, which has been deployed in the 3.5 GHz band, speakers also expressed interest in the possibilities of the incumbent’s information capability (IIC) for time-based spectrum sharing through an improved spectrum coordination system.

Investment in infrastructure: Speakers also highlighted the role of infrastructure investment in spectrum policy. Outdated receivers can pose problems for new uses of spectrum in adjacent bands. According to the speakers, improved interference protection capabilities could allow more intensive use of the spectrum without compromising existing operations in neighboring spectrum. The FCC is looking into this matter as part of an ongoing proceeding (more information here) and Chairman Rosenworcel highlighted the importance of continuing this work in her remarks.

Extension of FCC Auction Authorization: President Rosenworcel reiterated her calls for Congress to extend the FCC’s auction authority, which is set to expire on September 30, 2022. Speakers raised different proposals for how future auction proceeds could be used. . Several panelists suggested that Congress consider allowing the FCC to use auction proceeds to fund the adoption of modern technologies by incumbents. President Rosenworcel suggested directing future auction funds to fund the country’s transition to next-generation 911 services. Others expressed their support for the direct allocation of funds for the establishment of a more efficient and secure communications infrastructure.

Improved transparency and coordination. There was broad consensus on the need to clarify where, when and how spectrum is used today. Without such information, it is difficult to distinguish between real and artificial spectrum scarcity and to maximize efficient spectrum use.

The NTIA and FCC announced a new initiative earlier this year to improve US government coordination on spectrum management, and last month signed a Memorandum of Understanding (summarized here) fleshing out the agencies’ commitments. The agencies are also working to develop a National Spectrum Strategy for a coordinated approach to spectrum use and planning. These initiatives could help facilitate information sharing between the two agencies and establish a roadmap for meeting current and future spectrum demands.

The symposium highlighted many challenges to more efficient use of spectrum, but it also offered solutions. Working in good faith to develop and implement new spectrum management policies, speakers agreed, will support the continued operation and deployment of a variety of services while creating opportunities for innovation.

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