Public Knolwedge's Feld Argues for Zero-Based Spectrum Budgets

Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld has proposed a couple of different ways for the federal government to modify its spectrum-use policies that he believes will make for more efficient use, as well as easier and more flexible access.
Those suggestions came in two papers released as part of a Capitol Hill conference on spectrum management.
In one, Feld argued for dynamic, real-time leasing of federal spectrum, rather than having to clear entire bands then auctioning them, a process that can take, and has taken, years. He said the proposal combines the database/sharing mechanism the Federal Communications Commission has approved for sharing spectrum in the so-called white spaces between TV channels with the real-time auction process used for Internet advertising.
He noted that the proposal would not serve as a substitute for spectrum auctions or unlicensed spectrum, but would be another way to provide more access to spectrum while colleting revenue for the treasury.
The FCC has made reclaiming more spectrum for wireless broadband a centerpiece of its National Broadband Plan.
His other suggestion was to essentially zero out all federal agencies' spectrum holdings and make them reapply for what they actually need from a common pool of available spectrum, using five-year spectrum budgets to project future needs. He said that would remove the current disincintive for federal spectrum managers to become more transparent and efficient, that disincintive being that to do so means they lose spectrum.

"Federal spectrum managers understand that the "reward" for transparency and efficiency is to lose spectrum, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to carry out their responsibilities," he wrote. "As a result, they have resisted efforts to enhance transparency or modify the existing allocation process."
Feld wants the president to require all agencies to prepare a spectrum budget as they would their federal budget and defend their allocation or face losing it.
His goal is not simply to free up spectrum for the private sector, but also to bring more transparency and effiency to the government's use of its spectrum.

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.