On Tuesday, December 15, 2009 the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3125, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, and H.R. 3019, the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009.
The witnesses were:
- Michael Calabrese, Vice President and Director, Wireless Future Program, New America Foundation
- Dale Hatfield, Adjunct Professor, Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program, University of Colorado at Boulder
- Ray O. Johnson, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation
- The Honorable Steve Largent, President and CEO, CTIA - The Wireless Association
- The Honorable Gordon H. Smith, President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters
- Thomas Stroup, Chief Executive Officer, Shared Spectrum Company
Their prepared statements , along with with Chairman Waxman's initial statement, are on the website of the parent House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
New America's Michael Calabrese, a client of your blogger from time to time, was kind enough to cite several times "New Approaches to Private Sector Sharing of Federal Government Spectrum", a report he commissioned that showed that spectrum sharing of federal spectrum would be much more effective for all parties involved if future federal systems were designed with sharing in mind and preemption for emergencies.
My former boss, Dale Hatfield, pointed out that "there are combinations of newer management techniques and technological advances that can go a long way toward alleviating the shortage in spectrum capacity."
Lockheed Martin's Ray Johnson apparently was the front man for the Pentagon at this hearing. He was also a big cheerleader for the "military industrial complex:
"According to the Aerospace Industries Association, the aerospace and defense sector was the largest net positive contributor to the US balance of trade, logging a $57 Billion surplus in 2008, with U.S. military aircraft representing a $54.7 Billon export market; and, in 2007, U.S. defense exports alone constituted a $25 billion market."
He also raised concerns about
"potential inadvertent message to our allies in the international community, given the scope of the frequencies being inventoried and the provision requiring recommendations for reallocation. The Department of Defense and the defense industry have worked hard to promote, achieve, and maintain international spectrum harmonization to support allied interoperability of equipment, technologies, and capabilities."
For example, perhaps we should keep 225-400 MHz, 175 MHz of beachfront spectrum underutilized in the USA in urban areas where spectrum is in short supply, at low utilization in the future so that we can show our allies how important this spectrum is? Wouldn't a responsible sharing system with civil users that allows the military immediate preemption send a better message? When does the Federal Government get the money from to pay the Pentagon and its contractors like Lockheed Martin?
Isn't it from skimming off 4-6 % of GDP? Since the lesson of the past 8 years is that politicians and the voters want both "guns and butter", the 4-6% number is not going to change so the only way to increase military spending is to grow the GDP - which is what happens with more effective civil communications. It not only enriches CTIA members and equipment manufacturers, it makes other businesses more efficient and enables whole new businesses that are users of new services. (Think Amazon and Netflix.)
NAB President Gordon Smith's presence was continuing proof that the broadcasters have great political influence and can demand a seat at the table whenever they want - even if they have nothing germane to say. Smith praised his community "innovation and efficiency drive broadcast operations". His key point was "We believe that broadcast operations and the expansion of broadband availability and adoption are by no means mutually exclusive." That is, leave our spectrum alone is finding spectrum for the CTIA crowd and kill the FCC PN on "Use of Spectrum".
On this topic of inventory, there is a lively discussion going on now in the Linkedin's Spectrum Experts group (I am a member but I did not select this name). Here is a recent contribution from Saul Friedner of UK's Mott MacDonald consulting group, reprinted with his kind permission:
Much of this work was initiated by the Treasury and supported by other Government Departments a lot of the work and output can be found at www.spectrumaudit.org.uk
Ofcom the UK regulator also plays a vital part in this Programme to facilitate the technical and regulatory aspects and much of the work can be found on their web site www.ofcom.org.uk
I appreciate the framework for spectrum management in the US is different to the UK and Europe but de-regulation of spectrum is on the agenda of many Governments. A push to shake up public sector use of spectrum is a growing concern as demand continues to grow for services. The balance breaks down only when the two sides cannot agree a common ground.
I would like to comment further that any Audit or Inventory to be done should be conducted in stages and prioritised this way two outcomes could emerge:
1) Spectrum becomes available in the most efficient way
2) The spectrum identified as 'potentially difficult' to allocate or assign i.e. adjacent to military/public safety bands become the first barrier to overcome, therefore becoming easier as the inventory develops."