House Panel Approves Spectrum Bills

The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet votes for legislation that would create an inventory of the nation's airwaves and a bill designed to speed the process of clearing federal users from spectrum that the government has already reallocated for commercial use.

Faced with concerns over the growing demands for commercial spectrum, the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet Jan. 21 approved legislation to create a comprehensive survey of the nation's wireless airwaves and develop an inventory of each spectrum band. The inventory would include the identity of federal and non-federal users and the types of services they offer in each band and the amount of use of each band on a geographic basis.
Under the provisions of the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act (HR 3125), after the inventory is completed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission would be required to report the results to Congress and to create a Website to make the inventory publicly available. The report will include a description of information that could not be made publicly available for national security reasons.
It will also include a recommendation of which, if any, of the least utilized blocks of spectrum should be reallocated for commercial uses.
"The creation of the inventory is an essential step in making available more spectrum for commercial and wireless services and meeting the extraordinary spectrum demands the nation will soon face," Rep. Rick Boucher, chairman of the subcommittee, said in his opening comments. "The first necessary step is obtaining a thorough understanding of current spectrum users and their uses of the spectrum they have been assigned, revealing areas where relocations could occur or where spectrum sharing may be feasible."
The subcommittee also approved the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act (HR 3019), designed to speed the process of clearing federal users from spectrum that the government has reallocated for commercial use. Lawmakers are concerned that winners of the FCC's 2006 advanced wireless services spectrum still not do not have full use of the spectrum.
While the FCC is creating a national broadband plan that is expected to make recommendations on how to make more spectrum available for commercial uses, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman noted, "Regardless of what the [the plan] says about spectrum policy going forward, whatever policy decisions are made need to start by taking account of existing spectrum uses and allocations."
Both bills now move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
"As I said at the Subcommittee's legislative hearing on these measures in December, my goal is to move both the inventory legislation and bill speeding the reallocation of previously auctioned government spectrum through the Committee and through the House at the earliest possible time," Boucher said.