Wicker Urges FCC and NTIA to Strengthen Coordination on Spectrum Policy Following Recent Interference Concerns

The recent Senate confirmation of leaders for both agencies presents an opportunity to improve the policy-making process

January 13, 2022

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to work cooperatively to resolve spectrum policy issues and update the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on spectrum coordination, which has not been updated since 2003. The letter also reaffirms the respective roles of the agencies in the policy-making process.

The FCC has made significant progress in identifying and making available more spectrum for commercial purposes, but there have been challenges. As the ever-increasing demand for spectrum continues to exceed supply of readily available frequencies, it is important that the FCC and NTIA work collaboratively to ensure the U.S. maintains a pipeline of spectrum for innovative commercial use and federal agencies have the mission-critical spectrum resources they require.

The request to update the MOU is consistent with Wicker’s Improving Spectrum Coordination Act of 2021. Wicker and Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced this legislation in April 2021. 

Click here or read the full letter below.

Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Assistant Secretary Davidson 

Access to spectrum for wireless networks has become a critical component of the United States’ global leadership in technology and innovation. However, spectrum is a limited resource that must be used efficiently and effectively to ensure there is an adequate amount available for both federal and non-federal users. With your recent confirmations by the Senate, it is now time to take steps toward improving the cooperation and collaboration between your agencies that is essential to spectrum management and the future of U.S. spectrum policy.

In light of recent disputes over spectrum allocations, it is more important than ever that the FCC and NTIA work together to promote spectrum policy that best serves the dual goals of furthering commercial innovation and enabling the mission-critical operations of federal agencies. NTIA’s statutory role as the voice of the federal agencies regarding spectrum in proceedings at the FCC requires that the Administrator work closely with the experts at impacted agencies to develop and communicate a cohesive executive branch policy position. In addition, as directed by Congress, the FCC must account for the views of various stakeholders, including NTIA’s representation of federal agencies, when formulating service rules for spectrum frequencies.

This relationship can be strengthened through an update of the MOU between the FCC and NTIA, which details the roles and responsibilities of each agency. This MOU has not been updated since 2003 and does not appropriately account for the dramatic changes in technology in the past 20 years. Last year, I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Improving Spectrum Coordination Act of 2021, which would require the agencies periodically to update the MOU and clearly outline procedures for addressing technical, procedural, and policy questions. Although this legislation has not yet been signed into law, I urge both of you to work together to accomplish the objectives it lays out, resulting in a more predictable and certain spectrum policy environment for all users, federal and non-federal.