NTIA: Spectrum Policy Must Move Beyond Piecemeal, Band-by-Band Actions

The Trump Administration's chief telecom policy arm says job one in coming up with the President's new national spectrum policy plan is to "move beyond the narrow piecemeal,
band-by-band actions that have defined U.S. spectrum policy to make spectrum management decisions more holistically and strategically and to more effectively manage our Nation’s use of this crucial and finite resource."

That is according to the testimony of Derek Khlopin, senior policy adviser for the National Telecommunications & Information Administration for a hearing, "Our Wireless Future: Building a Comprehensive Approach to Spectrum Policy."

As Khlopin pointed out, last October, the President issued a memorandum, Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future, that directed Commerce and NTIA, which is under Commerce, to "develop and implement a comprehensive, balanced and forward-looking National Spectrum Strategy."

The President wants to make sure the U.S. wins the race to 5G and also deploys broadband to rural areas to boost precision agriculture.

That plan also includes spectrum sharing, which another witness at the hearing said was already a U.S. strong suit.

"I can confidently tell you that the United States is leading the world in developing advanced sharing techniques," said Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology. "FCC staff is working closely with initiatives undertaken through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Spectrum Challenge II, the Department of Defense’s National Spectrum Consortium, the National Science Foundation’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research, among many other initiatives. The techniques coming out of these endeavors hold promise for tapping into spectrum resources that were previously inaccessible."

While Knapp concedes exclusive use is always a "desirable" goal, sharing is often the go-to answer. "[T]here wasn’t another band to which we could relocate the Navy radars in the 3.5 GHz band," he pointed out, "but sharing enabled us to tap into the spectrum resources that sit idle when the ships are far out at sea."

John Eggerton

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.