U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) today re-introduced the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, legislation to help make more spectrum available to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband and other radio-based services. The bill directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create a comprehensive inventory of each spectrum band to understand how the spectrum is being utilized, and would also create a centralized website that would include relevant spectrum and license information accessible by the public.
"With the enactment of Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act earlier this year, Congress took a notable but incremental step in an effort to free up additional spectrum to meet the growing demand of wireless broadband," said Senator Snowe. "I believe more can and must be done to meet the future needs of all spectrum users and properly address existing spectrum challenges. This includes a comprehensive spectrum inventory, more strategic and long-term planning of spectrum resources, and greater collaboration between the FCC and NTIA."
"Every mobile technology and most successful startup companies in the last 20 years could not have taken off without the use of spectrum in some form," Senator Warner said. "However, spectrum is a limited resource, and we need a comprehensive inventory of spectrum to better assess how we are using it. This bipartisan legislation takes a necessary step in that direction."
Senators Snowe and Warner, members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, designed the bipartisan measure to complement the FCC's National Broadband Plan in promoting more efficient use of spectrum and ensuring that the proper framework is in place to meet the future telecommunications needs of the nation. Specifically, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act tasks the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to perform an inventory of each spectrum band between 300 Megahertz to 6.5 Gigahertz, at minimum. This data will provide policymakers a clear, detailed, up-to-date understanding of how spectrum is currently being used and by whom -- data essential to sound policy decisions.
The bill also provides more transparency related to spectrum use by creating a centralized website or portal so the public can access relevant spectrum and license information. The legislation makes appropriate disclosure exceptions for spectrum being used or reserved for national security and public safety activities. In the 111th Congress, similar bipartisan legislation (S.649, Radio Spectrum Inventory Act) was unanimously reported out favorably from the Commerce Committee on July 8, 2009.