NAB's Smith Pushes for Spectrum Inventory

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NAB president Gordon Smith wants the new co-chairs of the House Federal Spectrum Working Group to first get a handle on how the federal government and private sector are using their spectrum before deciding how best to free up spectrum for other uses.

He argues that without a "fulsome inventory and complete accounting" of how spectrum is being deployed and used, the government can't be certain that claims of a spectrum crisis are even valid.

That request comes in a letter to co-chairs Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

It is those claims of crisis that have fueled the Obama Administration push to free up 300 MHz of wireless spectrum over the next five years, including reclaiming broadcast spectrum through incentive auctions.

NAB has long pushed for a full spectrum inventory as a necessary preamble to any reconstitution of the spectrum band, and Smith pushed the point in his letter, saying that before Congress moves to optimize use of the "vast quantities" of spectrum under federal control, it should look at how "all" users are optimizing their spectrum.

Smith says that given some reports that there has been "significant warehousing and spectrum speculation," combined with others suggesting that technology combined with timely build-outs by wireless carriers could solve an "exaggerated" spectrum crisis, it is incumbent on them to look first at who is using, or not using, their spectrum today. "Reasoned policy decisions and thoughtful consideration of these matters simply cannot be honestly and earnestly debated without the facts," he writes.

Smith reiterated that broadcasters do not oppose giving up their spectrum in exchange for a government payment, so long as they are free not to give it up to, and continue to deliver free, local TV and innovative new services like mobile DTV, to the millions still relying on over-the-air service "without incurring expensive data charges imposed by wireless carriers."

CTIA: The Wireless Association did not mince words in its response to the Smith letter.

"The flat-earthers at NAB are at it again, denying the existence of a spectrum crunch that experts across the developed world recognize as the most serious challenge facing the mobile industry," said Jot Carpenter, VP, government affairs. "While the NAB is committed to its ‘deny and delay' strategy, the mobile industry is working to deploy the most efficient technologies available, building new infrastructure at a record pace, and engage with policymakers - including the members of the Spectrum Working Group - to identify and move to market spectrum that can help the U.S. maintain and extend our world leadership in wireless broadband."

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