Snowe to FCC: Address spectrum questions now

Sen. Olympia Snowe (D-Maine), a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants the FCC to pick up the pace on addressing spectrum proceedings that are pending at the agency.

In a letter (pdf) sent today to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Snowe said addressing these spectrum issues are essential to the National Broadband Plan, which the FCC must present to Congress next month.

“One of the more prominent issues involved in the FCC’s examination of spectrum policy is broadcasters’ use of spectrum,” Snowe wrote.  “While I don’t disagree that all options should be on the table as the Commission evaluates spectrum policy, it is imperative that the FCC first clear the table of outstanding spectrum-related items that have lingered at the Commission before extensively exploring other avenues.  Concluding these unresolved items could dictate what additional steps the FCC should investigate….. and provide a much quicker time frame to rolling out additional spectrum for commercial wireless broadband services”

She said she wants the FCC to look at cognitive radios, spectrum sharing, smart antennas, new innovation and reallocation to solve the "looming spectrum crisis."

The FCC has yet to complete a comprehensive spectrum strategy--partly because it doesn't know how all the spectrum has been allocated. The FCC has a very hard-to-use database with spectrum information, but critics say it needs to be better maintained and user-friendly. And the FCC needs to know how much spectrum federal agencies have as well.

Snowe and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Spectrum Inventory Act to identify all federal holdings, which Snowe says is a "first step in developing proper spectrum policy reform."