Spectrum regulators’ effort to work together wins praise

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Industry and advocacy groups welcome a new effort to improve federal agencies’ widely criticized system for managing wireless spectrum.

Lawmakers have called on federal agencies to reform their management of spectrum, a finite resource that has led to clashes, including between the Federal Aviation Administration and mobile carriers seeking to deploy 5G networks using a portion of spectrum called band vs.

Jessica Rosenworcel, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and Alan Davidson, chief of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, announced on Tuesday that they would launch a spectrum coordination initiative, involving monthly high-level meetings and updating a nearly 20-year-old memorandum of understanding.

“Nobody wants a repeat of the FAA/C-Band fight, and it looks like Rosenworcel and Davidson are acting pretty aggressively to prevent something like this from happening again,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge. , a telecommunications public. Interest group.

The announcement comes a day before Davidson is set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on NTIA’s spectrum management and other issues.

Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alan Davidson of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration speaks during the United States Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, DC on January 21, 2022.

The FCC is responsible for licensing commercial and non-commercial spectrum users. The NTIA, part of the Department of Commerce, manages and represents federal government spectrum.

Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO and president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, said companies are “especially encouraged” by the development of a national strategy. CTIA represents the US wireless communications industry, such as AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc.

The FCC and NTIA also said they would develop processes for “spectrum engineering compatibility analysis.” Conflicting engineering reports between federal agencies have led to disagreements over whether to allow spectrum use, as agencies use different standards to determine if there is a risk of harmful interference, said Field.

Agencies also committed to revamping technical collaboration by participating in each other’s advisory groups as observers.

Feld said the announcement is “an important first step,” but the agencies cannot solve the problem on their own.

“Only the president can require other federal agencies to work cooperatively with the NTIA and the FCC,” Feld said. More than 60 federal departments and agencies use the spectrum, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Commission Cathy McMorrisRodgers (R-Wash.) and Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee bob latte (R-Ohio) also welcomed the move, but said more work was needed.

“As we work to rebuild trust in the spectrum management process, it is also necessary for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to continue oversight public hearings,” Latta said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Curi at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at [email protected]; Anna Yukhananov at [email protected]

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