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Strickling Testifies Before House Committee at Spectrum Hearing

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WASHINGTON July 7, 2011- National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator (NTIA) Lawrence Strickling testified as the sole witness during at Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing on the use of federal government spectrum on Wednesday.

“With increased access to broadband, businesses will grow faster and create more jobs, students of all ages will have greater access to education and job training, and public safety officials nationwide will finally have access to state-of-the-art, secure, interoperable mobile communications,” said Strickling. “The end products of the President’s National Wireless Initiative promise to help grow the economy in several ways.”

Strickling went on to outline how the National Wireless Initiative would provide a true nationwide public safety network for use by first responders and the sale of spectrum through voluntary incentive auctions would provide the nation with a new revenue source that can help reduce the budget deficit.

He urged Congress to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to hold incentive auctions.

Voluntary incentive auctions would allow current spectrum owners to auction of part or all of their spectrum holdings and obtain a part of the proceeds. Currently all revenue gained from the auction of spectrum goes directly to the Treasury Department. Voluntary incentive auctions would allow current spectrum owners to obtain a part of the proceeds from the auction of part or all of their spectrum holdings. The FCC believes by providing a financial incentive license holders will become more likely to participate in the auction.

The long-term goal of the National Wireless Initiative is to roll out 4G wireless service to the entire nation as fast as possible.

“4G wireless technology will spur innovation in new and improved information devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, which in turn will spur increased economic growth and job creation in areas such wireless services, equipment and application,” Strickling said.

To obtain additional spectrum beyond what can be obtained from the voluntary incentive auctions, the NTIA has been directed by President Obama to identify and make available an additional 500 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum for use over the next 10 years.

The NTIA has already identified 35 MHz of government owned spectrum being used for satellite-based weather observation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that could be re-purposed.

To increase spectrum efficiency the NTIA along with the FCC and a group of other federal agencies have established a Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed pilot program that will work to develop sharing systems between federal users and non-federal users.

Strickling also warned the committee that any spectrum reallocation should be wary of stranded public investments.

“NTIA also must consider the risk of stranding an agency’s investment in systems and hardware – such as satellite systems, many of which have been designed and built to last for as long as 20 to 25 years, transmitters, and receivers – that could be abandoned and replaced years or even decades before the end of their useful lives if the agency re-locates all systems to another band,” Strickling said.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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