Telecommunications: Preliminary Information on the Federal Communications Commission's Spectrum Allocation and Assignment Process

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The radiofrequency spectrum is a natural resource used to provide an array of wireless communications services, such as mobile voice and data services, radio and television broadcasting, radar, and satellite-based services, which are critical to the U.S. economy and national security. Historically, concern about interference among users has been a driving force in the management of spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)--an independent agency that regulates spectrum use for nonfederal users, including commercial users--and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)--an agency within the Department of Commerce that ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. November 10, 2005.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The radiofrequency spectrum is a natural resource used to provide an array of wireless communications services, such as mobile voice and data services, radio and television broadcasting, radar, and satellite-based services, which are critical to the U.S. economy and national security. Historically, concern about interference among users has been a driving force in the management of spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)--an independent agency that regulates spectrum use for nonfederal users, including commercial users--and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)--an agency within the Department of Commerce that regulates spectrum for federal government users--have worked to minimize interference through the "allocation" and "assignment" of spectrum. Allocation involves designating "bands" of spectrum for specific types of services or classes of users, such as designating certain bands for commercial use and others for government use. Assignment provides an authorization or license to use a specific portion of spectrum to entities, such as wireless companies. Demand for the radiofrequency spectrum has exploded over the past several decades as new technologies and services have been and continue to be brought to the market in the private sector and new mission needs unfold among government users of spectrum, including wireless communications critical for public safety officials responding to natural and man-made disasters. As a result, nearly all parties are becoming increasingly concerned about the availability of spectrum for future needs, because most of the usable spectrum in the United States has already been allocated to existing services and users. Therefore, to promote a more efficient use of this resource and meet future needs, FCC has increasingly adopted more market-oriented approaches to spectrum management in recent years, including using a competitive bidding process, or auctions, to assign spectrum to commercial users. Prior to auctions, FCC had used comparative hearings, which were quasi-judicial forums, and lotteries as assignment mechanisms. Since 1994--the first full year FCC was authorized to use auctions--FCC has held 59 auctions for over 56,000 licenses to select between competing applications for the same license or spectrum. The Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act required us to examine FCC's commercial spectrum licensing process and report findings to the committees of jurisdiction by September 19, 2005. As discussed with the committees of jurisdiction, we examined the (1) characteristics of the current spectrum allocation process for commercial uses; (2) impact of the assignment process, specifically the adoption of auctions to assign spectrum licenses, on end-user prices, investment, entry and participation of small businesses, and competition; and (3) options for improving spectrum management."

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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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  • November 10, 2005

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Telecommunications: Preliminary Information on the Federal Communications Commission's Spectrum Allocation and Assignment Process, text, November 10, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302167/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.