National Broadband Plan calls for charging agencies for spectrum use

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In its National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission proposed that agencies pay to use radio spectrum to maximize its potential for commercial use -- a suggestion one former Air Force general called "absurd."

FCC's plan also calls for reallocating spectrum the Defense Department uses to manage satellites and to communicate with unmanned aerial vehicles and Army troops to commercial wireless broadband systems. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration manages federal use of spectrum, and FCC suggested in the spectrum chapter of its plan that Congress should allow NTIA to charge government agencies for spectrum that they currently use for free. The proposal would introduce market efficiencies to federal spectrum use and help spur the development of commercial broadband wireless services, FCC argued. The Technology Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, estimated in 2009 that about 23 percent of the nation's spectrum between 3 MHz to 3 GHz is allocated exclusively to federal agencies.

FCC said imposing a fee "may help to free spectrum for new uses such as broadband, since licensees who use spectrum inefficiently may reduce their holdings once they bear the opportunity cost of spectrum." But the commission said the charge "must avoid disrupting public safety, national defense and other essential government services that protect human life, safety and property, and must account for the need to adjust funding through what can be lengthy budgetary cycles."


National Broadband Plan calls for charging agencies for spectrum use