FCBA April Luncheon Speech by
Assistant Secretary Nancy J. Victory
As prepared for delivery to the
Federal Communications Bar Association
Friday, April 12, 2002
Thank you Margaret for your very kind introduction and this opportunity to speak before my friends and colleagues. Your hard work on behalf of the FCBA and its members is deeply appreciated by all of us. Of course, thanks also need to be extended to Stan and Heidi, who spend long hours to make events like this happen.
What a difference a year makes! Last year, I would have been sitting out there with all of you praying that the speaker would either be mildly entertaining or mercifully brief. Let's face it. I know this audience. Those of you at the "get away" tables near the exits are thinking - if I bail early, will I miss anything potentially billable? Those of you up front are thinking - why do those "get away" tables fill up so fast? And all of you are wondering - was that really chicken that I just ate?
Well, I am going to tell you right up front - there will be "good stuff" of client interest throughout my talk as well as some funny anecdotes. My staff says that this will keep you from snoozing before coffee and keep you in your chairs once you have finished dessert. We shall see!
On a serious note, I am deeply honored to be a member of the Bush Administration and the Administrator of NTIA. I know that most of you in this room are quite familiar with the FCC and what it does. You may not have the same familiarity with NTIA and the scope of its role.
The most obvious NTIA responsibilities fall in the spectrum management and communications policy arena. NTIA is the manager of the federal government's use of spectrum. NTIA is also the President's advisor on communications policy matters. All of you in this room are probably very familiar with those functions. However, there are a large number of significant tasks that NTIA routinely undertakes that are less obvious to the uninitiated. Let me identify some of those for you.
· ICANN and the Internet. NTIA plays a major role in the continued successful functioning of the Internet through its contractual relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the private sector entity responsible for management of the Internet domain name system. NTIA is also involved in the management of .us, the United States' country code top level domain, through its contractual relationship with NeuStar, the new operator of that TLD.
· NTIA's Boulder, Colorado Research Facility. Within NTIA, we have a pretty impressive research facility in Boulder, Colorado - the Institute for Telecommunication Services. ITS is NTIA's chief research and engineering arm, but also serves as a principal federal resource for solving the telecommunications concerns of other federal agencies, state and local governments, and private associations and organizations. Among other things, ITS has been particularly involved of late in identifying solutions to the public safety interoperability issue, including so-called "black box" technologies, Project 25 radios and software-defined radio.
· Research and Studies. NTIA is frequently asked (particularly by Congress) to conduct studies of key policy issues. For example, earlier this year, NTIA released reports on alternative frequencies for public safety use, an issue that is of heightened importance after the events of September 11, and on the potential for accommodating third generation systems. NTIA also released A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet. This report demonstrates the rapidly growing use of new information technologies across all demographic groups and geographic regions. As the report notes, "not only are more Americans using the Internet and computers at home, they are using them at work, school, and other locations for an expanding variety of purposes." NTIA is currently working on gathering information for a report on electronic signatures examining whether the exceptions from the provisions of the ESIGN Act should remain in place or whether electronically signed documents in those exempted categories should carry the same force of law as other electronically signed documents authorized under the ESIGN Act.
· Grant Programs. NTIA currently administers two grant programs. The Technology Opportunities Program provides grants through a competitive, merit-based process to organizations to bring the benefits of digital network technologies to communities throughout the United States. The Public Telecommunications Facilities Program provides grants through a competitive process to help public broadcasting stations, state and local governments, Indian Tribes and nonprofit organizations construct facilities to bring educational and cultural programming to the American public. The recently passed emergency supplemental legislation provided over $8 million of additional monies to help NYC stations, most of which had their antennae on top of the World Trade Center. Our staff is in the process of evaluating the applications and needs of stations and will be making grants soon.
· National Security. NTIA is the lead agency for the communications and information sector for purposes of helping the industry ensure that the critical communications network remains functioning in the face of a cyber or physical attack. Historically, NTIA's role in this regard was to generate awareness within the industry of this important issue. After September 11th, the focus has shifted more to preparedness, prevention and response by industry to an attack on this critical infrastructure.
· International Policy and Programs. In conjunction with the State Department and the FCC, NTIA represents the United States' interests on communications issues abroad. NTIA participates in a variety of international fora, such as the International Telecommunication Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission. NTIA also participates in direct "bilateral" and "multilateral" negotiations with key strategic nations. In the next few months, for instance, we will meet directly with delegations from the United Kingdom, China and Brazil.
NTIA PRIORITIES TODAY
Obviously, then, our plate at NTIA is pretty full. But, we have identified a number of priorities for 2002, which I thought I would share with you today.
· Spectrum Management - Long Term. Primary among these is spectrum management. If the U.S. is going to continue to be a leader in technology, and if our citizens are going to be able to enjoy all the benefits such technological advancement can bring, we have got to find spectrum to deploy all these wonderful new wireless products and services. And just so there is no misunderstanding - we need to find spectrum for commercial and governmental uses because Americans benefit greatly from them both. That's the reason NTIA convened its Spectrum Summit last week to kick off its inquiry into how to better manage this finite resource. A wide variety of participants gave us lots of food for thought. There were some interesting ideas presented and a number of areas identified for further follow-up. This will not be a short-term project for sure, but one we must tackle thoroughly and thoughtfully. And don't expect that the end result will be a report that will get dusty sitting on a shelf. Rather, we intend to turn what we learn into action items to effect the changes needed to better manage this essential resource.
· Spectrum Management - Short Term. While this longer term inquiry into spectrum management continues, NTIA will face a number of short term spectrum management challenges.
· Primary among these is the quest for 3G spectrum. With the FCC and DoD, NTIA is in the midst of conducting an assessment of the viability of making certain spectrum (1710-1770 and 2110-2170 MHz) available for 3G. We are looking into the extent to which the spectrum can be shared or cleared, the time frame for doing so and the cost. We hope to complete this assessment within the next two months.
· We will also continue to try to identify and urge the elimination of outdated and unnecessary regulations that limit the ability of existing licensees to maximize the use of their spectrum. In the fall, we urged elimination of the CMRS spectrum cap and cellular cross-ownership rules. Recently, we called on the FCC to move swiftly to permit secondary market arrangements with minimal government intervention. We will be looking to remove similar impediments to efficient spectrum use in the future. If you have some ideas as to what needs to go, come see us!
· Broadband. We in the Administration continue to be focused on how to remove obstacles to broadband deployment and how to ensure the development of sustained competition in the broadband marketplace. Broadband holds the promise of increased opportunities for many services that are not only valued in the United States, but also shared by many nations in the world. Broadband deployment can expand educational opportunities, improve health care, increase governments' responsiveness to its citizens, and enhance global competitiveness. In addition, new jobs could result from greater broadband deployment, both directly through the network construction, and indirectly through increased efficiencies from consumers and producers. The Administration has already announced a variety of measures designed at the demand side of the broadband equation. We at NTIA have been particularly focused on supply side issues. We have already identified rights-of-way regulation reform as an important issue and are working with industry, the states and localities to underscore best practices and eliminate worst ones. We will continue to look for other opportunities for NTIA to help advance the benefits of broadband.
· ICANN Reform. The creation of ICANN as a private sector entity to administer the global Internet has often been referred to as "the great experiment." ICANN has accomplished a great deal in its first few years of existence, yet all would agree that the road has been far from smooth. ICANN is now in the process of re-examining its mission and its structure. NTIA will participate in this process both through its contractual relationship with ICANN and through its membership in ICANN's Government Advisory Committee. NTIA's goal in doing so is to ensure that the Internet remains stable and secure, and that the mechanism for managing the Internet is sustainable over the long term.
· DTV Transition. Consistent with the goal of maximizing spectrum use and improving spectrum management, we will also be looking at ways we can help facilitate the digital television transition. This is a complex issue with many moving pieces and a variety of actors involved. Our approach will be to examine this issue holistically and realistically to see if we can facilitate this transition to a more spectrum efficient technology in a manner that benefits all Americans.
· Industry Diversification. We at NTIA are all too aware that minorities still tend to be underrepresented in the communications industry - this is true whether you look at ownership of companies or their employees. NTIA will be partnering with the Minority Business Development Administration to help give women- and minority-owned companies the information they need to enter this industry as well as to highlight best practices for achieving workplace diversity.
· International. We will also be reaching out internationally over the coming months to strengthen our communications policy relationships with key countries. We will particularly be focused on improving relations and harmonizing policies with countries in our own hemisphere, consistent with the President's "One Hemisphere" initiative. In addition, we will be reaching out to key players globally on telecommunications issues. This includes China - a huge telecom policy player with whom we have bilateral discussions scheduled at the end of May - and certain European players.
I hope that I have at least given you a better feel for my agency and my plans for 2002. I would be remiss if, before closing, if I did not sing the praises of my fabulous staff over at NTIA. I particularly want to single out my deputy, Mike Gallagher, who is doing yeoman's work on a variety of spectrum and other issues and is today standing in for me in meetings in Brussels. I also urge you to get to know my special assistant, Steve Madden, who is about neck-deep in ICANN issues. Several other members of my NTIA team are also here today and I just want to emphasize what a great job they do. I am also pleased to announce that Jack Zinman will be joining NTIA as my new Senior Advisor on May 1st. I am really looking forward to his joining the team.
Thank you all for being so attentive. I look forward to seeing all of you at the FCBA Annual Conference on May 3rd at Kingsmill Resort!