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Articles

Bill Introduced to Create U.S. Spectrum Inventory

March 20, 2009

Articles

Bill Introduced to Create U.S. Spectrum Inventory

March 20, 2009

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On March 19, 2009, Senators Kerry, Snowe and Nelson introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate (S.649) to create a public “inventory” of all federal and private sector uses of radio spectrum between 300 MHz and 3.5 GHz. The “Radio Spectrum Inventory Act” would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to create, within 180 days after enactment, a comprehensive spectrum inventory that would be publicly accessible on a website that would include the licenses assigned in each band, the number and type of end user devices deployed, the amount of deployed infrastructure, and maps depicting signal contours of existing systems. The bill would exempt disclosures for systems used or reserved for national security.

The bill’s co-sponsors explain that there is no new spectrum to allocate, only to redistribute. They cite to the success of recent 700 MHz band spectrum auctions in raising $20 billion for the U.S. Treasury and in creating new wireless service opportunities. The bands between 300 MHz and 3.5 GHz are currently used by a wide variety of public safety agencies, critical infrastructure industries, businesses, government agencies and commercial communications providers.

Much of the spectrum in these bands has already been re-allocated for spectrum auctions, and much of the spectrum managed by NTIA for federal agencies has been deemed reserved for national security purposes. NTIA has also closely guarded the confidentiality of its spectrum database in the interest of national security, so it remains to be seen whether this law, if enacted, would open that database to significant public review. Many private sector licensees could also have legitimate concerns about enhanced disclosure of their communications operations on such a website.

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