David Redl, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), put spectrum management issues at the top of the agency’s priority list during a speech yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. He mentioned developing cybersecurity policy and working to maintain open access to the internet on an international basis as other high concerns.
“The next generation of wireless connectivity is poised to unlock fantastic innovations and life-changing technologies, and America has been leading the way when it comes to developing 5G,” Redl said according to a transcript of his CES speech. “We must do everything we can this year and beyond to accelerate America's 5G leadership.”
NTIA is the lead executive branch agency on communications technology issues. However, except for its ongoing project to establish the FirstNet nationwide digital wireless network for first responders, it has been relatively quiet about issues such as rural broadband construction, 5G/internet of things, and repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules early in the Trump Administration. The FCC, an independent agency, has gotten most of the attention while Redl went through an unusually long confirmation process, ending in November.
One of NTIA’s missions for 2018 will be to identify federal spectrum for conversion to commercial 5G use. At the same time, it will be participating in international standards-setting bodies to harmonize 5G networks worldwide. Part of the task will be to work with the FCC and the Department of Defense to work out spectrum sharing plans for the 3.5 GHZ Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
“This work revolves around the innovative concept of dynamic protection areas, which are designed to replace static exclusion zones and allow more flexible spectrum sharing between federal and non-federal users,” said Redl who was a staffer with the House Energy and Commerce Committee and director of regulatory affairs for CTIA, The Wireless Association, before joining NTIA. “The 3.5 GHz model demonstrates how we can move toward more dynamic sharing, even as we continue to protect key government systems that are vital for national security and other public services. And the collaborative work in the 3.5 GHz process points toward a promising future for managing our nation's spectrum resources,” he said.