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Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a framework for making 65 megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband and other innovative commercial uses. This action represents a significant milestone as we move the Administration’s ambitious spectrum agenda forward.
The FCC’s ability to make available this spectrum depended in large measure on the efforts of an array of Federal agencies that currently occupy portions of the designated spectrum, which they use to operate hundreds of systems that are critical to national defense, public safety, and other vital agency functions. The work of those agencies, under the guidance of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, was set in motion by a 2010 Presidential Memorandum to find 500 MHz of spectrum held by Federal and nonfederal users that could be repurposed for wireless broadband service.
We congratulate the agencies for their work, which entails balancing technical complexities and budgetary constraints, while ensuring their agency missions. In order to make available this large swath of spectrum, Federal agencies have also continued to advance collaboration with the private sector and other stakeholders, as called for by a second Presidential Memorandum on spectrum policy released last year.
To further support Federal agency efforts such as these, the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a Request for Information seeking public input on ways to provide greater incentives to Federal agencies to relinquish or share spectrum for wireless broadband or other innovative commercial uses to address the ever-growing commercial demand. An array of stakeholders submitted comments, which will inform a forthcoming report the White House Spectrum Policy Team will deliver to the President.
Advances in the innovative uses of spectrum continue to benefit consumers, businesses, and government users while driving productivity and supporting job growth. We look forward to continuing to implement the President’s ambitious agenda to add more spectrum to fuel to the Nation’s fast-growing wireless broadband economy. As part of this effort, we will continue to promote collaboration among agencies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders.
As U.S. Department of Defense Deputy CIO Major General Robert Wheeler has said, “While the Department critically depends on wireless and information technology that require spectrum, DoD is cognizant of the scarcity of this resource and its importance to the economic well-being of our Nation…We understand that the strength of our Nation is rooted in the strength of our economy.”
Tom Power is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications