NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

ANNUAL REPORT

FY 1995





Mission

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA): (a) serves through the Secretary of Commerce as the principal adviser to the President on domestic and international communications and information policy-making; (b) develops pro-competitive policies for presentation before the Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in bilateral and multilateral international fora; (c) manages all Federal use of the electromagnetic spectrum and generally promotes efficient use of spectrum; (d) in partnership with business and other federal agencies, conducts telecommunications technology research, including standards-setting; and (e) awards grants through the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP), the National Endowment for Children's Educational Television, and the National Information Infrastructure initiative.

National Information Infrastructure

NTIA provided policy and administrative support for the Administration's National Information Infrastructure initiative NII, and acted as the Secretariat for the Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) and the NII Advisory Council (NIIAC). NTIA chairs the Telecommunications Policy Committee of the which includes three working groups: Universal Service, International Telecommunications Policy, and Telecommunications Legislation.

To expand electronic access to public information, NTIA established an electronic bulletin board system (bbs at 202-501-1920) and gopher/World-Wide Web (WWW) server (ntiabbs.ntia.doc.gov). Similarly, NTIA established and operates for the IITF a bbs (202-501-1920) and a ftp/telnet/gopher/WWW server at iitf.doc.gov.

NTIA also began a new program to fund NII networking pilot and demonstration projects, the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TOP). NTIA awarded over 90 grants in 45 states with $24 million in government funding. The grants require matching funds and will generate a total of $67.6 million toward the development of the National Information Infrastructure in public institutions such as schools, hospitals, libraries, social service organizations, museums, and state and local governments.

Legislative Activities

NTIA played a substantial role in Congressional adoption of the provisions of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that sought to improve spectrum management by authorizing the FCC to use competitive bidding to assign spectrum licenses.

Increased Competition and Technological Innovation

NTIA successfully advocated domestic policies to increase competition and technological innovation. NTIA filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to promote efficient deployment of new wireless forms of communications known as Personal Communications Services (PCS) and to implement competitive bidding for PCS licenses.

International Telecommunications Policy

NTIA initiated a comprehensive study of the regulation of international telecommunications services with a public Notice of Inquiry (NOI), seeking comment on the marketplace, technological, and regulatory factors affecting the provision of international telecommunications services, as well as the appropriate U.S. regulatory approach in light of those conditions. Information gathered through the NOI will assist NTIA in the development of a coherent policy framework for addressing international regulatory issues. NTIA also established an interagency group, including the White House and other interested Executive Branch agencies, to formulate an Administration position on the market access issues.

Spectrum Management

To fulfill the Federal Government's needs for radio spectrum, NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management maintains the Government Master File of approximately 290,000 authorized frequency assignments. Approximately 115,000 frequency assignment requests -- including requests for new frequency assignments, changes to existing assignments and deletions of assignments -- were received from Federal agencies and processed by NTIA. In addition, NTIA certifies new major radiocommunication systems. These systems will enable the Federal government to continue provision of essential services to the public such as air traffic control, law enforcement, national defense, and resources management.

Spectrum Policy

NTIA continued its two programs to promote more efficient use of the radio spectrum. The first, the Spectrum Openness Program, provides industry the opportunity to (1) present its views on Federal radiocommunication issues, (2) receive advice on spectrum allocation matters and requirements, and (3) obtain information on Federal use of the spectrum directly from NTIA personnel and the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) or through an electronic bulletin board system. The second, the Strategic Spectrum Planning Program, encompasses a long-range spectrum planning process designed to identify and address all U.S. spectrum needs more effectively. NTIA has also begun a program to develop an automated Federal spectrum management system to provide a standardized computer automated method for the Federal agencies to submit applications for spectrum support, technically select spectrum that is interference free, and validate that the spectrum requested is within the rules and regulations governing spectrum authorization.

Spectrum Management Training

In cooperation with the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI), a joint venture that provides free training to professionals from developing nations, NTIA conducted workshops for telecommunications managers and specialists from foreign countries. The workshops covered basic spectrum management and computer-aided techniques, development of commercial enterprises, and advanced spectrum management. The workshops reinforced U.S. ties with foreign countries -- especially those moving toward privatization and liberalization of their telecommunications markets -- and provided a forum to discuss national and international regulatory and spectrum planning issues. NTIA has participated in USTTI's training outreach since 1983 and has trained almost 300 individuals during that time.

NTIA'S Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS)

ITS, the primary Federal telecommunications research laboratory, conducted research on advanced network user performance standards (including Integrated Services Digital Networks -- ISDN), Personal Communications Services (PCS), broadband radio propagation analysis, Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems (IVHS), and automated video and sound quality assessment.

ITS led the U.S. Delegations to the International Telecommunication Union - Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Study Group XIII (Digital Networks) in Geneva. U.S. recommendations approved at these meetings included contributions on Broadband ISDN, Intelligent Networks, and preliminary activities on Universal Personal Telecommunications.

Industry Outreach

ITS pursued cooperative research with private companies under the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to continue its efforts aimed at assisting U.S. industry in emerging telecommunications technology areas.

Public Telecommunications Facilities Grants Program

NTIA's Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) issued grants totalling $21.2 million to 140 recipients in 42 states, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas and the District of Columbia. The grants will enable public broadcasting organizations, as well as many nonbroadcast operations, to buy equipment to activate new services, extend the range of present services, and improve existing facilities.

FY 1994 PTFP awards will bring a first public radio signal to over 1.5 million listeners and a first public television signal to approximately 1.4 million viewers. Other funded projects will support the maintenance and improvement of the public broadcasting infrastructure and the extension of distance learning services.

The PTFP also continued its assistance to two major distance learning planning studies through cooperative agreements. The two recipients are the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The AIHEC project is now in its third year of planning. The first two years of the AIHEC effort resulted in recommendations on interconnecting the member-schools to each other and to the numerous sources of distance learning programming now available via satellite-delivery systems. The study with CCSSO has involved the input of federal policy and regulatory agencies, educators, telecommunication programming providers, and telecommunications service delivery providers to determine how best to coordinate the use of telecommunications facilities for the cost-efficient delivery of distant learning programming nationwide. Both studies will continue with activities into FY 1995.

Pan-Pacific Educational and Communications Experiments by Satellite Program (PEACESAT)

PEACESAT provides a satellite telecommunications network for exchanging social, environmental, health, and educational information among the countries of the Pacific Basin region. NTIA continued to support PEACESAT activities for the University of Hawaii, which operates the network, including the improvement of computer communications infrastructure to increase PEACESAT's data programming capability. Additional low-cost user earth terminals were also installed in several Pacific Island nations with non-Federal funds.

NTIA also conducted a comprehensive study of satellite alternatives for PEACESAT use and held a conference on satellite alternatives with the University of Hawaii and PEACESAT users. The resulting report to Congress recommended an extension of the current agreement for use of NOAA's GOES-3 satellite in order for PEACESAT to define its long-term service and traffic service requirements and provide more time to search for long-term satellite configurations.

National Endowment for Children's Educational Television (NECET)

The ten-member Advisory Council on Children's Educational Television held its second meeting in January to provide advice on funding criteria and the administration of the program. Subsequent to the meeting, NTIA conducted its first grant round and issued awards to twelve organizations in eight states. The matching grants totalling $2.4 million in NECET funds will support projects that enhance the education of our nation's children through the creation and production of television programming designed to foster fundamental intellectual skills.

Funded projects involve the production of series, individual, and pilot programs, as well as various pre-production activities. For the first two years following production, NECET-funded programming is to be offered to public television stations. Thereafter, it will be made available to commercial television networks and stations as well as to cable television networks and systems.



Minority Telecommunications Development Program (MTDP)

NTIA's Minority Telecommunications Development Program (MTDP) continued its efforts to encourage and increase minority ownership of telecommunications businesses. In addition to compiling annual statistics and a list of minority-owned radio and television stations in the U.S., NTIA administered a communications management training program for new minority broadcast owners (COMTRAIN), participated in several national and regional conferences on business opportunities and financing in new telecommunications technologies, and supervised an ongoing contractor study on access to capital for minority participants in communications industries, known as TELECAP.