In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet yesterday, Michael Calabrese, Vice President and director of the Foundation's Wireless Future Program, strongly endorsed two bipartisan bills that could greatly facilitate the opening of enormous new spectrum capacity for wireless broadband and other wireless innovation.
Calabrese also urged the Committee to expand H.R. 3125, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act and H.R. 3019, the Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009 in ways that will promote shared access to very underutilized frequency bands that will not or cannot be cleared for auction in the foreseeable future.
Last week Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling announced that Michael Calabrese has been appointed to the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee, which advises the Administration on a broad range of issues regarding spectrum policy and on needed reforms to domestic spectrum policies.
In his testimony, Calabrese emphasized the following key points and proposed improvements to the two proposed bills:
- The increasing capability and popularity of smartphones and other wireless computing devices will drive an explosion in mobile data demand.
- Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is an abundance of unused spectrum capacity that can be reallocated band-by-band for exclusive or for shared use.
- The spectrum inventory proposed in H.R. 3125 is critical to identifying underutilized bands and determining how best to expand access and improve spectrum efficiency.
- Actual spectrum use measurements and, ideally, spectrum monitoring, would add an important layer of useful data to the inventory; this and other NTIA/FCC costs for a robust implementation should be funded from unused appropriations for the national broadband mapping data under the Broadband Data Improvement Act.
- Many federal bands are particularly well-suited for increased sharing with private sector uses, but this will require not just streamlining the CSEA's Spectrum Relocation Fund process, but also broadening eligibility so that agencies have the means to upgrade systems to share capacity on a far greater number of bands.
- A comprehensive spectrum inventory and CSEA reforms are also critical because it is neither practical nor desirable to rely entirely on new auctions of exclusively-licensed spectrum to meet the projected future demand for mobile data.
- Increasing opportunistic access to shared spectrum will enable hybrid networks, giving consumers the choice to transmit mobile data flows where feasible over unlicensed airwaves and local wired networks, rather than transporting most data over scarce licensed spectrum and relatively distant carrier infrastructure.