A group of technology chief executives are calling on the U.S. Congress and President George Bush's administration to create a "21st century" radio spectrum policy that would transfer poorly used government spectrum to private companies.
In a report released Wednesday, the Technology CEO Council calls on Congress to start a formal review of the radio spectrum in the U.S. to see where spectrum isn't being efficiently used. Congress should instruct the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to report on the value and lost opportunities of spectrum used by the federal government, the report said.
“Our nation’s wireless needs are too often governed by 1970s regulations that hinder economic progress and innovation,” Edward Zander, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Motorola Inc. and chairman of the council, said in a statement. “We need to re-think our approach to radio spectrum to bring our national policy into the wireless era and ensure that spectrum is available for entrepreneurs, innovators and first responders.”
Radio spectrum is used by a variety of tech devices, including Wi-Fi networks, mobile phones, FM radio and two-way radios. The report, titled “Freeing Our Unused Spectrum," said "artificial constraints imposed by public policy" are creating unneeded spectrum scarcity.
"There are few more important natural resources than our radio spectrum," the report said. "An increasingly essential platform for how we work, live, play and learn, radio spectrum may be the most critical infrastructure element of 21st-century economies."
The FCC should look for underused commercial spectrum and decide whether to reallocate it, the report said. The FCC should open up more auctions for unlicensed uses, used by technologies such as Wi-Fi and cordless phones.
The report calls on Congress to allow two-sided spectrum auctions, in which the FCC could ask a price instead of sell the spectrum to the highest bidder. Congress should also fund multiyear programs to assist public safety and other government officials in deploying technologies that use spectrum more efficiently and make emergency communications interoperable, the report said.
Congress and the Bush administration deserve credit for pushing through legislation that sets a deadline for U.S. broadcasters to give up their analog spectrum and broadcast all-digital signals, the council said. "But there is more to do in the year ahead, and we must not lose momentum,” Bruce Mehlman, executive director of the Technology CEO Council, said in a statement.
Members of the Technology CEO Council include CEOs of Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Dell Inc. and Unisys Corp.