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NTIA’s 2021 Spectrum Policy Symposium Showcases Cooperation Among Key Decision-Makers

October 04, 2021 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

NTIA’s 2021 Spectrum Policy Symposium brought together key policymakers and industry experts to explore how a “whole of government” approach to spectrum policy can address U.S. priorities for 21st century global leadership. 

The event featured as keynote speakers U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike F. Doyle Jr. (D-Pa.), and Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. Each of them highlighted the importance of spectrum to the economy, U.S. technological leadership, innovation, and federal government missions.

In addition, the event’s afternoon sessions featured a preview of the 2022 International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART), which NTIA’s Boulder, Colorado-based Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) plans to convene in the spring of next year. During the preview, ITS issued a call for papers to further the development of spectrum-sharing assessments through analyses driven by data, science and technology.

Throughout the keynotes and the accompanying panel discussions, policymakers and experts underlined the key themes of cooperation, technological innovation, and engineering-driven spectrum management solutions to spur America’s economic and infrastructure growth.     

Secretary Raimondo emphasized the importance of having “a national spectrum strategy that involves all major governmental stakeholders” to channel and support a whole-nation approach to spectrum policy. 

Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel highlighted how a strong FCC-NTIA partnership can support broad U.S. priorities, including addressing the digital divide. She noted the current example of cooperation among NTIA, the FCC, and the U.S. Department of Defense to auction the 3.45 GHz band in October.

In his remarks, Chairman Doyle emphasized that Congress understands the importance of spectrum in Americans’ everyday lives.  He echoed the need for greater partnerships and collaboration to identify spectrum for 5G, strongly supporting NTIA’s role as the voice of the executive branch agencies. He suggested updating a Memorandum of Understanding between NTIA and the FCC on spectrum policy matters and potential changes to make more flexible use of the Spectrum Relocation Fund as two areas that could be helpful in improving spectrum access decisions.

During the panel discussions, Vernita Harris, director-spectrum policy and programs directorate in the Office of the DoD Chief Information Officer, highlighted the need for spectrum-sharing policies to provide access across multiple bands, in which the military needs to both train and fight.  She called for government policies that provide DOD regulatory protection from losing the spectrum access that the U.S. military requires. Victor Sparrow, NASA’s assistant deputy associate administrator and director of the Spectrum Policy and Planning Division, discussed the need to bring together government and industry and space partners and build relationships that avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.

Panelists and speakers during the symposium also noted the success of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in demonstrating the potential of greater spectrum sharing. This has set the stage for further progress in developing new and innovative spectrum-sharing techniques such as NTIA's Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC) concept.

NTIA recognizes that good spectrum policy requires broad stakeholder collaboration and engagement. This year’s Spectrum Policy Symposium represents an encouraging re-commitment to develop and sustain policies that will support U.S. economic growth, technological innovation and national security. 

Only by working together effectively can we ensure the United States is positioned for 21st century success.

A copy of Secretary Raimondo’s remarks can be found here.