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National Spectrum Strategy Includes ‘Moonshot’ Sharing Effort

NOV 20, 2023
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Science Policy Reporter, FYI American Institute of Physics
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A 2016 chart of the U.S. allocation of radio spectrum.

(NTIA)

The Biden administration released a 26-page National Spectrum Strategy last week that aims to better manage the nation’s crowded radio frequency spectrum. An accompanying presidential memorandum directs agency actions to promote wireless technology innovation and establishes a process for resolving disputes over reallocations of spectrum bands.

The strategy states the U.S. will conduct an in-depth study of five spectrum bands covering 2,786 megahertz of spectrum that could be repurposed to support applications such as wireless broadband, drones, and satellite operations.

The U.S. also will develop a National Spectrum R&D Plan and establish a “national testbed” for dynamic spectrum sharing research. These actions are part of what the strategy describes as a “moonshot” effort to “advance research, create investment incentives, and set forth measurable goals for advancing the state of technology for spectrum access” within 18 months. The R&D plan will be developed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In a White House rollout event, OSTP Director Arati Prabhakar acknowledged that conversations about spectrum allocations can be “quite contentious and pretty difficult,” noting applications range widely from telecommunications and safety systems to scientific research and environmental monitoring. She also said the memorandum “opens the door to the kind of innovation that can change how we use the spectrum” and reflected on her experience overseeing a spectrum sharing R&D initiative when she was director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

While the Biden administration has grand plans for sharing finite spectrum bands more effectively, Congress has yet to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority, which lapsed in March 2023.

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