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Free State: Government Agencies Should Pay Spectrum Fees

The Free State Foundation has a lot to say about the future of spectrum, including charging agencies a fee for use of that critical asset.

In comments to the Trump Administration on its proposed national spectrum plan, FSF, the free market think tank backed by media companies, has a six-point plan of its own for making sure spectrum, the "lifeblood of mobile and wireless broadband, is used efficiently by government, and freed up for commercial use when possible.

FSF is particularly focused on getting a better handle on the value of federal spectrum and more incentives for agencies to relinquish that spectrum.

The plan is:

1. NTIA Should Issue an Annual Report Calculating the Market Value of Federal Government Spectrum

2. The OMB Should Have a Role in Auditing Federal Spectrum Holdings

3. The Spectrum Relocation Fund Should Become a Spectrum Incentive Fund

4. Agencies Should Be Assessed Spectrum Fees

5. Allow Agencies to Use Spectrum Holdings to Offset Budget Appropriations

6. Increase the Transparency and Accountability of Government Spectrum Decisions

On the spectrum fee, FSF's preference, which is to discourage government spectrum squatters, is described this way: "NTIA could impose an appropriate fee on federal agencies based on the amount of spectrum each agency is holding. Then, OMB could subtract the fee amount from each agency’s overall budget appropriation. Depending on how much an agency’s budget decreases due to the implementation of spectrum fees, agency administrators may well be discouraged from 'hoarding' spectrum that is not used or is underutilized.

Historically, agencies have been reluctant to give up or share, suggesting they need the spectrum or that sharing could put critical systems, defense and otherwise, at risk.

The foundation was providing the spectrum input to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration in comments on President Trump's proposed spectrum plan on which the White House is seeking government agency and private stakeholder comment.

The White House is focused on winning the race to 5G (next gen) wireless broadband deployment and is also convinced that requires new thinking about government spectrum. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.