Today, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) President
Tom Schatz submitted a detailed commentary
to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding
questions posed in the committee's most recent white paper on "Modernizing
U.S. Spectrum Policy." CCAGW's comments address multiple issues
regarding modern communication law, including the structural changes
needed to improve spectrum licensing, allocation of unlicensed spectrum,
efficient use of spectrum, steps that can be taken to increase
commercially available spectrum, requirements for spectrum licensing,
and the role that the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) should play in the licensing and management of
spectrum. The responses read, in part, as follows:
1) What structural changes, if any, should be made to the FCC
to promote efficiency and predictability in spectrum licensing?
"The committee needs to look beyond the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) when reviewing spectrum responsibility and management.
If it is economically and fiscally feasble, perhaps a consolidation of
the roles and responsibilities of spectrum management could be merged
into one federal agency in order to reduce overlapping missions and
2) How should unlicensed spectrum be allocated and managed for
long-term sustainability and flexibility?
"As Americans become increasingly dependent on the availability of
unlicensed spectrum for various purposes… there is a heightened need for
much of the spectrum currently found in the 'white space' or unlicensed
3) What should be done to encourage efficient use of spectrum
by government users?
"While the voluntary spectrum reverse auction is a first step toward
providing more spectrum for mobile devices, unused spectrum currently
allocated to federal agencies should be reviewed as a potential source
for future auctions."
4) What other steps can be taken to increase the amount of
commercially available spectrum?
"An annual or biannual review of government-held spectrum that is 'in
the pipeline' should be required of all federal agencies holding
spectrum allocations to determine whether it is viable for disbursement
to the private sector in future spectrum auctions."
5) Should the Communications Act permit the FCC to use
expected auction revenue as the basis for a public interest finding?
"The FCC uses the Department of Justice's criteria for selecting
participants in the auction, placing the FCC in the position of picking
winners and losers in the spectrum auction. This decision could have
been avoided if the FCC was required to include expected auction
revenues as part of its formula for a public interest finding when
developing auction procedures."
6) What is the best balance between mitigating interference
concerns and avoiding limiting flexibility in the future?
"Barring a legislative or regulatory solution, interference issues will
likely be addressed by the telecommunications industry based on consumer
demand for interference avoidance measures. By allowing the free market
to innovate to meet consumer demand, interference issues will be
resolved more effectively."
7) What role should NTIA play in the licensing and management
"There should be only one agency overseeing the allocation of
spectrum within the federal government. The FCC and NTIA must coordinate
and collaborate to ensure that the nation's spectrum needs are met,
while at the same time meeting their own individual mission goals."
The responses in full context can be found here.
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of
Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation's largest nonpartisan,
nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and
mismanagement in government.
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