NAB pushes House group to inventory spectrum

The NAB continues to express its skepticism about a spectrum shortage. Gordon Smith, the group’s president, sent a letter to the new House Federal Spectrum Working Group this week asking it to get “a clear understanding” about how the private sector is using the nation's wireless spectrum.

In a letter to the co-chairman of the new group, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky) and Doris Matsui (D-California), Smith said “neither Congress nor the American people have a clear understanding of what spectrum is being used, by whom and for what purpose.”

While Smith said the NAB agrees there are increasing demands for spectrum, he argued that without a “fulsome inventory and complete accounting” of how spectrum is being deployed how can we be certain that claims of a spectrum ‘crisis’ are valid.”

Claims of a spectrum crisis have led President Obama and his administration on a campaign to free up 300 MHz of wireless spectrum over the next five years, including reclaiming broadcast spectrum through incentive auctions. The claims have widespread support on all sides of the political spectrum.

Smith noted news reports claiming there has been “significant warehousing and spectrum speculation by corporations that apparently have squatted on large swaths of spectrum rather than building out their networks.”

Ironically, the same criticism of spectrum squatting has been leveled against the broadcasters themselves, who use free spectrum owned by the public in exchange for providing a public service.

Smith asked Congress to be “vigilant in safeguarding the rights of our local TV viewers” during the spectrum auction process and to allow broadcasters to continue to provide new services like mobile DTV. “This new service will allow viewers to access the most popular programming on television without incurring expensive data charges imposed by wireless carriers,” Smith wrote.

Smith’s letter brought a swift response from the CTIA, the Wireless Association.

“The flat-earthers at NAB are at it again, denying the existence of a spectrum crunch that experts across the developed world recognize as the most serious challenge facing the mobile industry,” said Jot Carpenter, VP, government affairs.

“While the NAB is committed to its ‘deny and delay’ strategy, the mobile industry is working to deploy the most efficient technologies available, building new infrastructure at a record pace, and engage with policymakers—including the members of the Spectrum Working Group—to identify and move to market spectrum that can help the U.S. maintain and extend our world leadership in wireless broadband.”