FCC and NTIA overhaul spectrum coordination agreement

The agencies sign a memorandum of understanding intended to increase cooperation and promote more efficient use of spectrum.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 31: Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Two key federal agencies announced Tuesday an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on radio spectrum coordination, the first update in nearly 20 years, that is aimed at increasing coordination between Federal spectrum management agencies to promote more efficient use of spectrum that is central to modern telecommunications.

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman (FCC) Jessica Rosenworcel and Assistant Secretary of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator (NTIA) Alan Davidson announced the spectrum collaboration between the agencies in an effort to advance a “whole-of-government approach,” they said, for the critical resource that is regulated by the federal government.

“A spectrum coordination agreement that pre-dates the smartphone is not sufficient to meet the challenges facing our agencies today,” Assistant Secretary Davidson said in a statement. “This updated MOU between NTIA and the FCC will deepen our collaboration and improve our ability to anticipate and mitigate serious spectrum issues.”

Former top government technology officials canvassed by FedScoop earlier this year also called for a major rethink of the spectrum allocation process as part of a federal government IT modernization push.


The new MOU establishes a framework for better managing spectrum use and planning through the following steps: formalized high-level planning, a longer-term spectrum outlook, greater agency coordination, improved transparency and data sharing, and clearer dispute resolution.

“Next-generation spectrum innovation is going to require next-generation spectrum coordination.  This updated MOU embraces the idea that no single entity can meet this challenge alone,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.

The agencies, going forward, will revisit the MOU every four years to ensure that it is adequate for the country’s spectrum needs.

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