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White House eyes new uses for spectrum

President Bush has signed an executive memorandum creating a spectrum policy initiative to develop recommendations for improving the nation’s spectrum management policies and procedures. The Department of Commerce will head the initiative.

Although the new initiative did not specifically address the transition to digital television, the government’s focus is designed to free up spectrum for greater economic development and for areas such as public safety, law enforcement and scientific research.

The White House noted that in recent years the United States has witnessed enormous growth in spectrum-based technologies and uses of wireless voice and data communications systems by businesses, consumers and the government. Specifically, the president cited the explosive growth of Wi-Fi systems that allow short-distance wireless computing in homes and businesses.

As part of the initiative, a federal spectrum task force will produce a set of recommendations for improving spectrum management policies and procedures to increase the federal government's efficiency and use of the spectrum. The Department of Commerce will also hold a series of public meetings to assist in its development of a set of recommendations for improving policies and procedures for use of spectrum.

Within one year, the Secretary of Commerce will provide the president with recommendations to modernize and improve the nation’s spectrum management system.

It is expected that the spectrum initiative will bring new pressure on terrestrial broadcasters to set a hard date for the transition to digital television. The issue has gained increased congressional support in recent months and it is expected to gain traction in 2005.

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