November 18, 1999
Commissioner Susan Ness
|Re:||Principles for Reallocation of Spectrum to Encourage the Development of Telecommunications Technologies for the new Millennium|
I am pleased that the Commission today has adopted a spectrum policy statement which will serve as a roadmap for future spectrum allocation, service, and assignment orders. The policy statement reflects public comments submitted both at the Spectrum En Banc held last spring and at the fora held this fall to discuss Chairman Kennard's excellent Five Year Strategic Plan for the FCC. I applaud the Office of Plans and Policy, the Office of Engineering and Technology, and the International, Mass Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus for working together to develop this document.
Spectrum management is one of this agency's most critical core functions. Yet, too often our decisions are made on an ad hoc basis -- band by band -- rather than as part of a well-articulated spectrum policy and plan. To be sure, the Commission has made tremendous progress in revamping its spectrum policies over the last few years. We have emphasized flexible use and have limited our reliance on standard-setting, to enable licensees to adjust their services to the rapidly changing marketplace without having to come back to the Commission for approval. We have instituted auctions to assign licenses where there are mutually exclusive applications, and have streamlined the application process -- all to insure that licenses are distributed as expeditiously as possible to those who value them the most.
But more remains to be done. This policy statement is only a first step, but a big step toward generating a comprehensive and harmonized spectrum policy. It also serves us well by publicly identifying the allocation possibilities for 210 MHz of spectrum the FCC contemplates releasing for non-Federal governmental use over the next few years. By taking this first step, we can hope to achieve the most efficient use of this national resource for the benefit of the American public.
The policy statement sets forth several principles to guide our spectrum management. It signals increasing reliance on flexible use of spectrum allocations, but recognizes that there are times when the public is better served by more direction. It ignites debate on new approaches to auctioning spectrum, including approaches that will encourage development of a vibrant secondary market. It sparks discussion of new spectrum technologies -- such as software defined radio and ultra-wideband -- which may significantly impact spectrum allocations and the use of spectrum in the future. While the policy statement is not intended to be a complete treatise on the subject of spectrum management,(1) it offers the opportunity to focus comprehensively and globally on our spectrum policy.
Moreover, the policy statement provides us with suggested allocations to jumpstart discussion on the initiation of new services. While each allocation must still be the subject of a rulemaking proceeding in which extensive public comment will be sought, the roadmap provided will be an important guide to developing our comprehensive and harmonized spectrum policy. But we must use the opportunity it presents wisely.
First, the visualization of the full mosaic, rather than the study of one tile at a time, will better focus our allocations to meet future needs for spectrum. By cataloguing up front the different bands of spectrum we expect to offer to the public over time, we will enable stakeholders to plan ahead. Equipment manufacturers, service providers, and the financial community all need time to draft business plans, design equipment, and secure funding well in advance of any application or auction date. Additionally, consistent spectrum policies that include a long-term view of all of our spectrum resources will provide regulatory certainty enabling industry players to move forward with long-term plans.
Second, the visualization of the full mosaic recognizes that we live in a global telecommunications world, and urges harmonization, where practicable, with allocations abroad. Global plans can prevent spectrum waste and inefficiency at our borders. Such plans also enable manufacturers to achieve scale, thereby lowering the cost of providing services and equipment to the public. I am pleased that we are participating in bilateral and multilateral discussions with our counterparts in other administrations to work through allocation and sharing issues well in advance of the World Radiocommunications Conference.
Third, as we proceed with spectrum planning, we need to work with our colleagues in the federal government and with industry to design ways to eliminate inefficient use of the spectrum. We should explore, where appropriate, how traditional services can be relocated to facilitate deployment of new services, as we did in the Emerging Technologies band. Where conventional government or industry uses can be fully accommodated more efficiently or in other bands, we should craft incentives to achieve such goals.
Finally, the creation of the Spectrum Policy Executive Committee, under the inspired leadership of Dale Hatfield, will enable us to effectuate a forward looking spectrum policy that better positions us for global communications. I commend Chairman Kennard for taking this step and I plan to work closely with this Committee.
The policy statement we adopt today moves us well along the road toward a more responsive and robust spectrum management regime. I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Kennard, my colleagues and staff at the FCC, other federal agencies, and our international counterparts to advance the efficient use of the spectrum for the benefit of the public.
1 For example, I envision that we will have greater discussion in future items on spectrum sharing and the unlicensed use of spectrum. And nowhere here do we address issues such as spectrum warehousing or our standards for addressing the renewal of licenses for auctioned spectrum.