Today, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced an agreement to update their memorandum of understanding in order to better coordinate spectrum resources and prevent interagency conflict.
Last updated in 2003, the memorandum now works to limit interagency spectrum disputes by requiring monthly communication between the agencies’ staff and outlining a process for sharing technical data to resolve concerns before the FCC publicly releases proposed changes in spectrum policy. In exchange, the NTIA commits to providing any objections in a timely manner and to support objections with evidence “based on sound engineering principles.” It also requires the FCC to notify the NTIA and the executive branch of spectrum actions that might trigger debate.
The agreement explicitly addresses the root causes of the growing tension between the FCC and federal agencies that have hindered future spectrum planning and the roll out of 5G, which culminated in near shut down of numerous airports by the FAA from fear that new 5G services would cause interference with airplane landing equipment. The new formal processes to be created under the MoU should prevent such a thing from happening in the future.
In addition, the new memorandum sets the stage for more rigorous long-term planning that should benefit our spectrum policy by encouraging the agencies to work together to bring spectrum to market. Public Knowledge applauds FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson for reaching this agreement to help address harmful interference and avert spectrum problems before they start.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“No one could have imagined in 2003, when the FCC and NTIA last updated their agreement, just how complicated balancing federal needs with meeting the voracious demand for wireless services would become. This agreement will make it possible for the United States to move forward on future wireless technologies, such as 6G and Wi-Fi 7, while protecting public safety and critical federal operations.”
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