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Republican Staffers: Clearing Spectrum, Not Sharing, Is Priority

Staffers for the Republican majority on the
powerful Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications subcommittee have
signaled to the Obama administration that it should focus on clearing spectrum
from government users rather than encouraging them to share spectrum with
commercial users.

came in a memo to members from majority committee staffers Tuesday (Sept. 11)
in advance of a Sept. 13 hearing in that subcommittee on freeing up governmentspectrum.

recent National Telecommunications & Information Administration report on
freeing up that spectrum suggested sharing should be an important part of that
plan, a point echoed by the President's Council of Advisors on Science andTechnology (PCAST).
The Republican staffers say, instead, that that option should only be reserved
for instances where clearing spectrum is "impossible."

NTIA has said that clearing spectrum could cost
$18 billion and take ten years, which was one of the reasons it suggested
sharing should be part of the equation as a way to free it up more quickly and
at less expense.

the staff memo says NTIA has conceded that
estimate was not based on independent analysis, and may be inflated and
inaccurate. "While the subcommittee welcomes the PCAST report to the
extent that it explores additional options, sharing spectrum in the way it
envisions is less useful than clearing spectrum and too untested to be the
focus of the subcommittee's spectrum strategy. Such sharing should be reserved
for cases in which Federal clearing is impossible."

staffers are not saying sharing should not be explored, but do say the sharing
push is speculative and more emphasis should be placed on clearing spectrum,
which gives users the certainty of exclusive use and thus the incentive to pay
more for the spectrum and invest in the infrastructure to employ it.