House Commerce Committee requests regular spectrum realignment reports

The chairman and ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking for monthly updates on spectrum realignment from the FCC, Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in order to push the spectrum agenda forward. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA) made the request after sensing unnecessary delays on spectrum issues by various government agencies. Monthly meetings on spectrum will be overseen by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).

“The work that the chairman and the ranking member of the full committee asked Greg Walden and I to take on will make sure that they are coordinated, to make sure there aren’t excuses, to make sure there isn’t finger pointing. That will hasten the outcome that we’re looking for,” Eshoo said.

Almost 60 percent of the spectrum within the 1755MHz-1850MHz band is controlled by federal agencies. Incentives to those agencies are to be provided by the FCC to either relinquish or share that spectrum with wireless carriers who need the spectrum for broadband services.

“The agencies seem to be pointing fingers at each other” as excuses as to why they are not meeting President Obama’s directives to free up the federal spectrum, Waxman told reporters.

At a recent hearing, several government agencies offered a variety of reasons for their slow action. The issue could have a major impact on both wireless carriers and broadcasters if it lingers on.

“We’re serious about trying to compress this timetable and get answers,” said Rep. Greg Walden, who is chairman of a Commerce subcommittee.

The Pentagon got the brunt of the criticism. It has been reluctant to release spectrum in the 1755MHz to 1780MHz range. Teresa Takai, DoD chief information officer, said the bandwidth is essential for pilot training and the reduced budget has set back technical work.

“The same-old, same-old that prevailed for years is not going to be accepted around here,” Eschew said after listening to the testimony.

“I’m not highly confident, but I’m fairly confident,” Eshoo said when asked if the FCC will be able to meet the September 2014 deadline for actions of broadcast spectrum held by government agencies.