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New National Research Council Report on Spectrum Technology and Policy

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council today published a report entitled “Wireless Technology Prospects and Policy Options” which” describes key wireless technology trends, their implications, and options for facilitating the introduction of enhanced and new services.” The mission of the NRC is to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health. Other technical regulatory agencies routinely ask NRC for views on key policy issues - FCC has not in more than 30 years!

The report as a whole will take some digesting I note with interest the following recommendation:

Ensure That Regulators Have Access to Technology Expertise Needed to Address Highly Technical Issues

As this report argues, spectrum policy is entering an era in which technical issues are likely to arise on a sustained basis as technologies, applications, and services continue to evolve. The committee believes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would therefore benefit from enhancing its technology assessment and engineering capabilities and suggests several ways to gain such expertise:

• Make it a priority to recruit top­caliber engineers/scientists to work at the FCC, perhaps for limited terms.

• Use an external advisory committee to provide the FCC with out­ side, high­level views of key technical issues. (Indeed, in the past, the FCC convened the Technology Advisory Council to play just such a role.)

• Add technical experts to the staff of each commissioner.

• Tap outside technical expertise, including expertise elsewhere in the federal government such as at the Department of Commerce’s Insti­tute for Telecommunication Sciences and the National Institute of Stan­dards and Technology (NIST), or through a federally funded research and development center.

Readers may recall that this is similar in several ways to IEEE-USA letters to FCC that have been discussed here.

Of course I find it odd that they feel FCC needs more expertise but make no statement at all about NTIA in this area. More later about this important report after some time for review.
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