Congress

Lawmakers want NOAA to yield spectrum

Shutterstock image (by Andry VP): Satellites and networks.

A bipartisan congressional group wants spectrum currently used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be opened up to help satisfy the ever-growing commercial demand for wireless services.

In a Feb. 10 letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) were joined by more than a dozen members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in asking the agencies to unlock additional space in the 1675-1680 MHz band for mobile broadband. NTIA is the lead agency in managing civilian agency spectrum holdings, while the FCC manages commercial spectrum.

NOAA uses a portion of the spectrum allocation for communication with weather balloons. The firm LightSquared has repeatedly urged regulators to make part of that swath of spectrum available to commercial users.

Congress has been pushing to relocate government spectrum holders after a hugely successful auction of some federal spectrum last year brought in almost $45 billion.

Guthrie and Matsui are co-chairs of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus that advocates converting federal spectrum to commercial use.

"We need to keep working on ways to bring more spectrum to market," Guthrie said in a statement. "Virtually every sector of our economy has grown to rely upon this finite resource, and demand continues to grow. While I appreciate the progress already made by the FCC and NTIA to make more federal spectrum available, I am hopeful that they will prioritize opening up the 1675-1680 MHz band, especially given the widespread support that exists for this project."

Matsui said the band used by NOAA is a prime example of the opportunities to repurpose federal spectrum for commercial use. "If we want the United States to continue to lead the world in mobile, we need to act now to put more spectrum in the pipeline," she added.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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