Waxman, Boucher Ask GAO For Study on How Government, Commercial Entities Use Spectrum

The chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Communications Subcommittee have asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of how the government and commercial entities use spectrum, including "commercial spectrum that may be underutilized and could potentially be reassigned or reallocated."

That came in a letter Tuesday to Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general.

The wireless industry has lobbied for reallocating broadcast spectrum for wireless use, with the FCC floating the idea with broadcasters.

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) pointed to the growing need for wireless spectrum in calling for the examination.

"Wireless communications and wireless applications have, in a short time, become crucial to our nation's economic growth and well-being," they said in their letter. "It is of critical importance that we review regularly our spectrum management policies, practices and regulations," they added.

They want GAO to look into not only possibly reallocating commercial spectrum, but also reallocating government spectrum for commercial use, or spectrum sharing via smart radios or spectrum-sensing technologies.

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith said Tuesday that broadcasters were not dismissing spectrum reclamation or reallocation proposals out of hand, but would not be willing to give up their claim to high-definition service, multicast channels or mobile DTV.

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.