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House Committee Approves Spectrum Inventory Bills

The House Communications Subcommittee today approved--by voice vote--two bills that would help the government get a handle on who is using spectrum and how effectively.

They are the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act (HR 3125) and The Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act (HR 3019).

The inventory act would require the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration (the FCC's counterpart for federal spectrum users like DOD) to identify how much spectrum federal and non-federal entities--like broadcasters and satellite operators--are using, including coming up with a centralized database/portal/Web site.

The pair would be required to come up with a report to Congress in two years with recommendations about who, if anybody, should have to give up spectrum, and why.

As part of a managers amendment substituted for the original bill, both area directed to exhaust their own resources for the inventory--databases, field testing--and only then go to federal agencies and private companies for the information.

The Relocation Improvement Act is targeted at federal users and would require the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is the FCC's counterpart for federal spectrum, to inventory the different plans and requirements of federal agencies if they relocate or otherwise turn over spectrum for private use.

The bills are tied to the need for an inventory as the broadband revolution makes increasing demands on spectrum.

The Obama administration has made it clear that it believes the future of everything from diplomacy to education to healthcare and energy management will be online, and the FCC is currently trying to figure out how much spectrum the wireless industry will need for all those broadband applications, and where it is going to come from.

"The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet today took two very significant actions to make new wireless capacity available for consumer need," said Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld. "At a time when mobile access to the Internet is exploding, these are important pro-active steps to averting a future crisis."