House panel forms special spectrum working group


U.S. CongressHouse Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) want to make sure America is making the most effective use possible of its spectrum, and to that end has formed the bipartisan Federal Spectrum Working Group.

The two leaders will be ex officio members of the group, which will be co-chaired by Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). Other members include John Shimkus (R-IL), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Steve Scalise (R-LA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), John Barrow (D-GA) and Donna Christensen (D-VI).

“Spectrum is the fundamental building block of the wireless ecosystem,” said Walden. “This precious and finite resource drives the technologies that are integral to our 21st century economy. As the largest single spectrum user, the federal government could save taxpayers money and provide its own agencies better technology tools while simultaneously making more frequencies available to meet America’s exploding demand for mobile broadband services. This working group will take a comprehensive, thoughtful, and responsible look at how to improve federal spectrum use as part of our ongoing effort to make the most efficient and effective use of the public’s airwaves.”

“Spectrum is the key ingredient for faster, more ubiquitous wireless broadband, spurring unprecedented growth in new online applications and services,” Eshoo said. “We need a comprehensive approach to spectrum policy, including an examination of how the federal government uses it. The working group will be tasked with examining ways in which we use spectrum and how we can use it more efficiently.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Isn’t it great the way things work in Washington? An incentive spectrum auction program with immensely destructive potential is approved by slipping it into an unrelated piece of must-pass legislation, and THEN a group is formed to study spectrum issues.

That’s not how it worked back when we were in school. First we studied and did our homework, THEN we wrote the essay and/or took the test.

Perhaps it is dawning on some inside the Beltway that there will likely not be too many broadcasters volunteering to give up their bandwidth in exchange for a one-time pay-off, and perhaps this merely signals a well-founded effort to find alternate sources of unused spectrum.

If that is so, we note that it would have been wise to have done this sort of thing before going to all the trouble to set up the incentive auctions like many were (and are) calling for. And at the same time, we applaud the effort, belated though it may be.