White House should oversee spectrum, new report says

The White House must take over management of the nation's airwaves, the Center for Strategic and International Studies advises.

In a new report, Spectrum Management For the 21st Century, the center recommends a number of steps to quell increasing fights over existing spectrum space:

  • Develop a national spectrum strategy

  • Increase research support for technologies that make better use of the spectrum

  • Establish a spectrum oversight advisory board

  • Implement White House oversight.


  • The Federal Communications Commission now oversees commercial use of the nation's airwaves, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration handles government use.

    In the past few years, companies have pressured both agencies to change existing spectrum holder rights. New wireless technologies, for instance, have spawned a call from many IT companies for the Defense Department to relinquish some of the spectrum reserved for national security needs.

    At a House briefing yesterday, the center presented its report to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform.

    Davis said his committee will weigh the report's findings, along with the results of five ongoing General Accounting Office reviews and a Presidential Spectrum Policy Initiative study commissioned in June.

    "This is a very good start," Davis said.

    The GAO reports are due early next year, and the presidential report in May, said Grace Washbourne, a committee staff member.

    She cautioned, however, that it might be years before any spectrum reform legislation is introduced because of the issue's complexity and the need for independent evaluations.

    A team of advisers from both telecommunications companies and government agencies-including DOD, FCC and NTIA-drafted the Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

    The center is a private research organization that studies global issues. To order the report, click here for a link.

    About the Author

    Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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