President Bush signed an Executive Memorandum creating the
Spectrum Policy Initiative to develop recommendations for
improving spectrum management policies and procedures.
The Department of Commerce will chair the Initiative.
The purpose of the Initiative is to promote the development and
implementation of a U.S. spectrum policy that will foster
economic growth; ensure our national and homeland security;
maintain U.S. global leadership in communications technology
development and services; and satisfy other vital U.S. needs in
areas such as public safety, scientific research, federal
transportation infrastructure, and law enforcement.
The existing legal and policy framework for spectrum management
has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and
spectrum use. The Spectrum Initiative will help develop a U.S.
spectrum policy for the 21st century.
The Importance of Spectrum
Spectrum contributes to significant innovation, job creation,
and economic growth. It is vital to scientific discovery and
technological advances. It is critical to the ability of first
responders to react to natural disasters and terrorist attacks
and essential to the military's ability to fulfill its mission
of protecting our nation.
Recent years have witnessed enormous growth in spectrum-based
technologies and uses of wireless voice and data communications
systems by businesses, consumers, and government. Today,
there are more than 140 million wireless phone customers and,
increasingly, businesses and consumers are installing WiFi
systems to allow wireless computing on their premises.
The Federal Government makes extensive use of spectrum for
radars, communications, geolocation/navigation, space
operations, and other national and homeland security
How the Initiative Will Work
The Initiative is comprised of two activities:
The Federal Spectrum Task Force will produce a set of
recommendations for improving spectrum management policies and
procedures to increase the efficiency and beneficial use of spectrum by
the Federal Government.
The Department of Commerce will 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 by state and
local governments and the private sector.
Within one year, the Secretary of Commerce will provide the
President recommendations to:
Facilitate a modernized and improved spectrum management
Facilitate policy changes to create incentives to
increase the efficiency and beneficial use of spectrum and to provide a
higher degree of predictability and certainty in the spectrum
Develop policy tools to streamline the
deployment of new and expanded services and technologies, while
preserving national security, homeland security, public safety, and
encouraging scientific research; and
Develop means to address
the critical spectrum needs of national security, homeland security,
public safety, federal transportation infrastructure, and science.
Building on a Foundation of Success
While the Initiative will facilitate improvements in spectrum
management, the Administration has achieved significant
successes within the current system.
The Administration has identified new spectrum for advanced
third generation (3G) wireless services and technologies for
consumers. In July 2002, the Department of Commerce released a plan in
concert with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the
Department of Defense to make 90 MHz of spectrum available in the
future for 3G wireless services while accommodating critically
important spectrum requirements for national security.
The Administration has identified how to make available
additional spectrum at 5 GHz for wireless data communications, called
Wireless Fidelity (WiFi). The Department of Commerce reached an
agreement in February 2003 with the private sector and the Department
of Defense on a technical solution that the United States is now able
to present in international spectrum discussions.
The Administration, in conjunction with the FCC, approved
the use of ultrawideband (UWB) technology, which enables broadband
connections and assists in the performance of critical safety services.
During 2002, the Department of Commerce worked closely with the FCC to
authorize mechanisms to accommodate UWB wireless technology without
causing serious impact to critical radio communications services.
The Administration has proposed several legislative changes
and program initiatives to improve the spectrum management process,
including: (1) providing the FCC with new authority to set user fees
on unauctioned spectrum licenses; and (2) creating a Spectrum
Relocation Fund to streamline the process for reimbursing government
users, facilitate their relocation, and provide greater certainty to
auction bidders and incumbents.