Tech leaders call for new uses of US radio spectrum

A group of technology chief executives are calling on the U.S.Congress and President George Bush’s administration to create a”21st century” radio spectrum policy that would transfer poorlyused government spectrum to private companies.

In a report released Wednesday, the Technology CEO Council calls onCongress to start a formal review of the radio spectrum in the see where spectrum isn’t being efficiently used. Congress shouldinstruct the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and theNational Telecommunications and Information Administration toreport on the value and lost opportunities of spectrum used by thefederal government, the report said.

“Our nation’s wireless needs are too often governed by 1970sregulations that hinder economic progress and innovation,” EdwardZander, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Motorola Inc.and chairman of the council, said in a statement. “We need tore-think our approach to radio spectrum to bring our nationalpolicy into the wireless era and ensure that spectrum is availablefor entrepreneurs, innovators and first responders.”

Radio spectrum is used by a variety of tech devices, includingWi-Fi networks, mobile phones, FM radio and two-way radios. Thereport, titled “Freeing Our Unused Spectrum,” said “artificialconstraints imposed by public policy” are creating unneededspectrum scarcity.

“There are few more important natural resources than our radiospectrum,” the report said. “An increasingly essential platform forhow we work, live, play and learn, radio spectrum may be the mostcritical infrastructure element of 21st-century economies.”

The FCC should look for underused commercial spectrum and decidewhether to reallocate it, the report said. The FCC should open upmore auctions for unlicensed uses, used by technologies such asWi-Fi and cordless phones.

The report calls on Congress to allow two-sided spectrum auctions,in which the FCC could ask a price instead of sell the spectrum tothe highest bidder. Congress should also fund multiyear programs toassist public safety and other government officials in deployingtechnologies that use spectrum more efficiently and make emergencycommunications interoperable, the report said.

Congress and the Bush administration deserve credit for pushingthrough legislation that sets a deadline for U.S. broadcasters togive up their analog spectrum and broadcast all-digital signals,the council said. “But there is more to do in the year ahead, andwe must not lose momentum,” Bruce Mehlman, executive director ofthe Technology CEO Council, said in a statement.

Members of the Technology CEO Council include CEOs ofHewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Dell Inc. and UnisysCorp.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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