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Legislative Action on 2 Spectrum Bills

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet has approved the following 2 spectrum bills:

HR 3019  Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009 - Amends the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to post on its website detailed transition plans from each federal entity that is eligible for payments from the Spectrum Relocation Fund for costs related to the reallocation of frequencies from federal to nonfederal use. Requires the federal entities, to the fullest extent possible, to provide for sharing and coordination of eligible frequencies with commercial licensees. Requires federal entities to complete spectrum relocation within one year of receiving relocation payments.HR 3125 Radio Spectrum Inventory Act - Amends the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create and maintain an inventory of each radio spectrum band of frequencies used in the United States Table of Frequency Allocations from 225 megahertz to 10 gigahertz and report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives. Sets forth provisions concerning national security.

Interested readers may recall that I favor the spectrum inventory but am concerned that without some parallel work on clarifying the meaning of "harmful interference" that it will be a waste of time and resources.

Backers of the bill: 

  • What do you think will happen after the inventory is done?
  • How do you want FCC and NTIA to determine if apparently vacant spectrum can be used without causing harmful interference?

HR 3019 has some interesting provisions for independent review of agency transition plans for reallocations.  This is the first time I recall any proposal for some independent oversight of NTIA and federal spectrum management - a move  in the right direction.  Section 2(b)(6)(B)(ii) sets up a "Technical Panel" to review agency relocation plans.  Section 2(b)(6)(C) provides 

‘‘The Director of OMB, the Administrator of NTIA, and the Chairman of the FCC shall each appoint one member to the Technical Panel, and each such member shall be a radio engineer or technical expert not employed by, or a paid consultant to, any Federal or State governmental agency. NTIA shall adopt regulations to govern the workings of the Technical Panel after public notice and comment, subject to OMB approval, and the members of the Technical Panel shall be appointed, within 180 days of the date of enactment of the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2008."

The precedent of having an outside watchdog for federal government spectrum activities is a good counterbalance for the chummy atmosphere within the windowless IRAC meeting room.

The rest of the story ...