Skip to main content

HTSC: Don't Forget Government Spectrum

In advance of a Hill hearing on the FCC's incentive spectrum
auctions slated for Wednesday, Dec. 11, computer companies reminded both the
House and Senate communications oversight leadership how much they need all
that spectrum the government is trying to free up, including from the
government's own users.

In letters to the leaders of the House Energy & Commerce
and Senate Commerce Committee and their respective communications
subcommittees, the High Tech Spectrum Coalition applauded the incentive
auctions for reclaiming commercial spectrum from broadcasters, but added that
there must also be focus on government spectrum as well.

"Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are
as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum," they wrote,
then added: "We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap
the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets...In 2010 the
FCC concluded that the industry will need 275 MHz of cleared spectrum for
licensed use.  Voluntary incentive auctions alone will not fulfill this
need.  Our attention must also focus on transitioning federal spectrum for
commercial use."

The companies in the coalition, which include Apple, Cisco,
Ericsson, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm, said that the challenges to finding and
"liberating" federal spectrum are more complex than in the incentive

"We must be innovative in our collective thinking about
how to incent federal users to become more efficient, to share with one
another, to vacate, or to lease their spectrum."

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is on the same page.

One proposal, which
Rosenworcel raises in testimony
for a hearing on incentive auctions Dec. 12
in the House Communications Subcommittee, is to pay government users to give it
up. "I believe it is time to develop a series of incentives to serve as
the catalyst for freeing more federal spectrum for commercial use. What if we
were to financially reward federal authorities for efficient use of their
spectrum? If we want to convert more airwaves to commercial use, I believe it
is time to work with our government partners so they can realize value from
using spectrum efficiently -- instead of only seeing loss from its