Sunday, February 11, 2007

The FCC's Strategic Spectrum Plan - 2006 - 2011

In a prior post, I shared information on policy and use of that portion of the radio spectrum managed by the NTIA for Federal Government users.

However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with management and regulation of the spectrum (among their other responsibilities) for all other radio/wireless communication users.

Here's their 2006-2011 strategic plan (as of September, 2005) that gives one an idea of what to expect from the agency in the next 5 years, including:

• An overarching mission statement;
• General goals and objectives defining how the Commission will fulfill major
segments of its mission;
• A description of the means and strategies that will be used to achieve the
goals and objectives;
• A description of the relationship between performance goals in the annual
performance budget and the strategic goal framework;
• Identification of key factors that could affect achievement of the general goals
and objectives; and
• A description of program evaluations used in preparing the Strategic Plan and a
schedule for future evaluations.

Readers specifically interested in radio and wireless communication spectrum matters should pay close attention to Notices, actions and decisions made by the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), the new Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHS), and, the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). Additional information on spectrum policy can be found on the FCC's Spectrum Policy Task Force site.

Finally, here's how you can "express yourself" should some of the Commission's activities stir you out of complacency about spectrum matters.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

U.S. Wireless Spectrum Management Overview

This 2001 paper Federal Spectrum Management: How the Federal Government Uses and Manages the Spectrum from the NTIA describes some basic elements of spectrum management.

** 10/06/07 - The link to this paper is no longer functional **

** NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management site currently has no replacement link or any updated material available describing its spectrum management mission or goals

The closest information concerning the NTIA's spectrum management policies is
located here or here **

It first explains what is meant by the term "
the spectrum". Second it portrays the role of the Federal government as a major user of the spectrum explaining how the use of the spectrum is critical to the roles assigned the government agencies by the Congress and the President. Finally, the paper discusses how, why and by whom its use is regulated. It also includes a very informative Appendix with an in-depth overview of spectrum use by individual federal agencies.

(NOTE: Reportedly, the NTIA will be releasing an up-dated Federal Spectrum Use Report sometime this year.)

Use of the radio spectrum is critical to U.S. communications, and indeed, the national economy. In 1990, the value of shipments of radiocommunications equipment was estimated to be more than $55 billion. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent auctions of portions of the spectrum for Personal Communications Services, and other services, has produced about $24 billion for the national treasury. Industries that use the spectrum to provide a service, such as broadcasting, cellular telephony and paging also make substantial contributions to the economy , as do manufacturing and service industries that use the spectrum to increase their productivity. Moreover, spectrum use is essential to government functions ranging from defense and public safety to air traffic control and weather forecasting. U.S. policies for managing the spectrum must ensure that the spectrum is used efficiently and fairly to promote the best interests of the public while promoting innovation and serving users’ needs. Current spectrum management policies — administered by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) for Federal government users, and by the FCC for all other users — are under increasing strain as the demand for existing spectrum-based services grow and new spectrum-related technologies and applications emerge.

This document is well worth a read for those interested in or concerned about spectrum matters.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Crowded Spectrum Prompts Need for National Spectrum Coordinator

Here are several excerpts from a Feb 1 2007 article in Military Information Technology relating to the importance of paying attention to spectrum matters.

...spectrum management issues (are) now being confronted within the Department of Defense. Wireless voice and data communications are of ever-growing tactical significance to a networked fighting force. But the introduction of increased radio-based capabilities also results in the greater probability that signals will clash with one another. The Pentagon is taking steps, both at the policy and operational levels, to mediate among competing demands for radio frequencies on the battlefield...

but, ...the quest for access to the electromagnetic frequency spectrum is not limited to the military. Homeland security operations, first responders and commercial interests all have their growing needs for spectrum. In reality, the military competes for spectrum with these other users.

...there will be a tug-of-war between corporate America, wanting to allocate radio spectrum to business and consumer applications, and U.S. defense agencies desiring to allot spectrum to military applications...

...Business interests will deploy their lobbyists to justify why they deserve a certain amount of spectrum, and DoD will have to justify its needs. At the end of the day, they will all have to come to the table and make it work.

...the prospect of protracted battle between national security agencies and the private sector over the control of spectrum also speaks to the need for a single national authority to develop and execute an all-encompassing spectrum strategy.

...A national chief spectrum officer is going to need to be an honest broker, a renaissance man or woman who understands that spectrum is a critical resource...(NOT simply an economic development tool or commodity to be sold to the highest bidder)

The last excerpt will be the most challenging and difficult spectrum management element of all but, in my view, it's one that is absolutely necessary as our reliance and dependency on all things wireless continues to increase.