Sen. Roger Wicker Seeks Better NTIA-FCC Cooperation

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) (Image credit: U.S. Senate Photography Officer)

The ranking member on the powerful Senate Commerce Committee wants the relationship between new FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel and new NTIA head Alan Davidson to start out on the right foot.

In a letter to both, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), called on the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to work together to better coordinate spectrum policy.

The FCC and NTIA, under the Trump administration, were sometimes at odds over spectrum issues and how the government spectrum that the NTIA oversees could be shared or freed up for commercial 5G use while still protecting important government uses like radar and GPS.

Also: House Subcommittee to NTIA, FCC: Get on Same Page

Those tensions have resurfaced lately over Federal Aviation Administration concerns with interference to aviation safety systems in adjacent spectrum bands from new wireless users of C-band spectrum won at auction.

Rosenworcel, for her part, has already pledged to Congress to work cooperatively with NTIA.

In his letter, Wicker said, “In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the FCC and NTIA work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies.”

The FCC and the NTIA have a memorandum of understanding on how they will coordinate spectrum issues. Wicker said that 2003 arrangement needs updating since “it does not appropriately account for the dramatic changes in technology in the past 20 years.”

Wicker has a rooting interest in that update. He introduced a bill last year, the Improving Spectrum Coordination Act of 2021, that would require periodic updates of the MOU. ■

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.