Telecommunications: Better Coordination and Enhanced Accountability Needed to Improve Spectrum Management

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The radiofrequency spectrum is the medium that enables wireless communications of all kinds, such as mobile phone and paging services, radio and television broadcasting, radar, and satellite-based services. As new spectrum-dependent technologies are developed and deployed, the demand for this limited resource has escalated among both government and private sector users. Meeting these needs domestically is the responsibility of the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for federal government users and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for all other users. The current legal ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. September 30, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The radiofrequency spectrum is the medium that enables wireless communications of all kinds, such as mobile phone and paging services, radio and television broadcasting, radar, and satellite-based services. As new spectrum-dependent technologies are developed and deployed, the demand for this limited resource has escalated among both government and private sector users. Meeting these needs domestically is the responsibility of the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for federal government users and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for all other users. The current legal framework for domestic spectrum management evolved as a compromise over the questions of who should determine how spectrum is allocated among competing users and what standard should be applied in making this determination. Current methods for allocating spectrum face difficulties, and FCC and NTIA's efforts are not guided by a national spectrum strategy. Since nearly all of the usable radio spectrum has been allocated already, accommodating more services and users generally involves redefining current radiofrequency allocations. One method used by FCC and NTIA is to increase the amount of spectrum that is designated for shared use, so that additional types of services or users may be placed within a particular frequency allocation. Another method, called band-clearing, involves relocating a service or user from one area spectrum to another in order to make room for a new service or user. The challenges the United States faces in preparing for World Radiocommunication Conferences, where decisions are made regarding the global and regional allocation of spectrum, have raised questions about the adequacy of the United States' current preparatory process. Under the current structure, FCC and NTIA develop positions on agenda items through separate processes that involve the users of the spectrum they manage. NTIA has several oversight activities to encourage accountability and efficient use of the spectrum by federal agencies, but federal officials stated that the effectiveness of these activities is hindered by staffing and resource shortages. Specifically, NTIA has directed federal agencies to use only as much spectrum as they need and has established frequency assignment and review processes that place primary responsibility for promoting efficiency in the hands of the agencies. As an accountability measure, NTIA requires that agencies justify their initial need for a frequency assignment and periodically review their continued need for the assignment, generally every 5 years."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • September 30, 2002

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Telecommunications: Better Coordination and Enhanced Accountability Needed to Improve Spectrum Management, report, September 30, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292068/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.