FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says the agency has already begun to create an inventory of "existing spectrum allocation, assignment, and utilization."
That came in a letter to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on July 14 in response to the Senate Commerce Committee chairman's request that it begin a comprehensive survey.
Genachowski said that in response to Rockefeller's request, he has met with National Telecommunications & Information Administration chief Lawrence Strickling. NTIA oversees government spectrum. He said the two had agreed to coordinate on a comprehensive inventory.
A bill that would mandate just such an inventory by both FCC and NTIA has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
Genachowski pointed to the FCC's creation of an online "spectrum dashboard" that provides information to the public about spectrum use and users, but added that, "on a broader level, we have established a Spectrum Task Force, a cross-agency working group charged with coordinating critical activities necessary to achieve our spectrum policy goals. We have also undertaken various targeted initiatives to remove barriers to using spectrum for wireless broadband and increase spectrum flexibility. This includes efforts to develop methods of measurement of spectrum utilization."
The FCC is scheduled to vote on a proposal to free spectrum in the mobile satellite services band for terrestrial broadband, and is expected in the next couple of months to begin the process of reclaiming 120 MHz of broadcast spectrum for the same purpose. "Unleashing spectrum will unleash investment and help build an enduring engine of job creation," Genachowski said in his letter, echoing an economic stimulus theme that has become a consistent message across federal agencies.
Some top legislators have signaled that the FCC and NTIA need to do an inventory of who is using what spectrum how efficiently before they get too far down the road with those plans.
The letter came only a couple of days before top legislators are expected to talk about spectrum at the latest in a series of Hill meetings on how telecom policy needs to be revamped in the wake of the digital/broadband revolution.
"I am very pleased the Chairman has indicated his intention to proceed with an inventory of commercial spectrum in the US," said Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker--herself a former NTIA chief--in a statement. "I fully support this important initiative. I believe a comprehensive commercial spectrum inventory is critical to the development of spectrum policies to drive innovation, investment and deployment of state-of-the art-wireless networks and technologies in the coming years. I also hope that the inventory can be completed as quickly as possible and form the foundation for a comprehensive spectrum database. I will seek to ensure that the inventory's outputs are coordinated with and useful to other government agencies and especially that they are easily accessible to potential innovators and entrepreneurs."