White House Enters Spectrum Policy Debate

The White House has joined the effort to revise the way RF spectrum is managed. A Presidential Memo on Spectrum Policy stated, "The existing legal and policy framework for spectrum management has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and spectrum use. Under the existing framework, the Government generally reviews every change in spectrum use, a process that is often slow and inflexible, and can discourage the introduction of new technology. Some spectrum users, including Government agencies, maintain that the existing spectrum process is insufficiently responsive to the need to protect current critical uses."

Development of recommendations for improving spectrum management policies will be carried out under the "Spectrum Policy Initiative." The goals of the Initiative were listed as:

(a) facilitate a modernized and improved spectrum management system;

(b) facilitate policy changes to create incentives for more efficient and beneficial use of spectrum and to provide a higher degree of predictability and certainty in the spectrum management process as it applies to incumbent users;

(c) develop policy tools to streamline the deployment of new and expanded services and technologies, while preserving national security, homeland security, and public safety, and encouraging scientific research; and

(d) develop means to address the critical spectrum needs of national security, homeland security, public safety, Federal transportation infrastructure, and science."

A "Federal Government Spectrum Task Force" consisting of the heads of executive branch departments will "focus on improving spectrum management policies and procedures to stimulate more efficient and beneficial use of Government spectrum." The Secretary of Commerce or the Secretary's designee will head the task force. The White House memo said the Secretary of Commerce would release reports containing recommendations on or before June 2004.

Neither the memo nor the White House Fact Sheet on Spectrum Management specifically mentioned broadcast spectrum, although as reported in the May 29 RF Report, the FCC is considering allowing the use of TV broadcast spectrum for non-broadcast services.

The FCC Chairman issued a statement supporting the President's Spectrum Policy Initiative. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) commended the White House Spectrum Initiative in a Press Release.

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of CEA, commented, "The consumer electronics industry looks forward to working with the Administration on this comprehensive spectrum study. Freeing up spectrum will allow new products and additional services to blossom. As the White House today noted, tremendous growth in new products and services has come in the relatively small unlicensed area, proving that non-incumbent entrepreneurs can make a huge difference in responding to consumer needs. But we are just at the beginning of the digital transformation and our spectrum policy can and will adjust to the new era. Further advances in WiFi services, broadband offerings and other exciting innovations lie ahead. Today's White House announcement is just what we need to move forward and tackle them."