Remarks of Alan Davidson
Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
National Spectrum Strategy Listening Session
March 30, 2023
As prepared for delivery
Thank you for that introduction, and thank you all for joining us today.
We’re all here because spectrum plays a central role in American life in a way that it never has before.
From the cell phones in everyone’s pockets to the satellites that help predict the weather, radio spectrum plays a key part in Americans’ everyday lives.
We saw Americans' demand for wireless-based services increase over the past decade, and it spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The demand for this scarce resource will continue to grow.
Next-generation Wi-Fi networks, new satellite mega-constellations, 6G networks, connected cars and private wireless networks will add to the need for more spectrum resources.
Data, computing and networking demands are driving private sector needs. Those same forces affect the federal government too.
Government missions from weather observation to defending the Pacific are more spectrum reliant every day.
And that’s where NTIA comes in. We have a dual imperative built into our statutory role. We are both the manager of federal spectrum resources, and also the President's primary advisor on these issues.
And as the President’s advisor, we care deeply about ensuring that the U.S. remains the global leader in building wireless technologies.
U.S. leadership is necessary to reap the economic rewards that come with innovation.
U.S. leadership is also necessary to protect our national security, which relies on us remaining technologically superior.
We therefore must build a pipeline of spectrum that meets the needs of the private sector as well as our federal users.
At NTIA, we sit right at this junction of federal and non-federal spectrum needs. With the help of our colleagues at the FCC, we must be able to meet both of those demands.
We are determined that the United States will continue to be the world leader in advanced wireless technology. It’s absolutely essential.
And I don’t mean only the world leader in the commercial use of advanced wireless technology. I also mean in the development and use of wireless technology for national security, scientific research, and other critical government missions as well.
We are developing our National Spectrum Strategy with this purpose in mind – to build a spectrum pipeline that will meet the short, medium, and long-term needs of both commercial and federal users.
We want to identify 1500 megahertz of spectrum to study for future potential repurposing – an ambitious but achievable goal.
We must find ways to allow for more intensive use of this finite resource. Technology can also provide better answers: by accessing bands we’ve never used before; by making more efficient use of current spectrum bands; and by developing exciting new sharing technologies.
We have to do all this in a coordinated fashion. We must take into account the existing uses and future needs of relevant stakeholders, and ensure that new spectrum uses do not conflict with existing operations).
This is a huge undertaking and it will rely on understanding future spectrum needs and where technology is going.
As the hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, we don’t want to skate to where the puck is now. We need to skate to where the puck is going.
That’s where you all come in.
We’re going to need input from public interest groups, from industry, from our federal partners. That is all essential for this strategy to succeed.
I’m excited to get your feedback and am grateful you’ve joined our kickoff listening session here in D.C. We also plan to do a bit of a roadshow to hear from stakeholders outside of the Beltway.
Next month we’ll be doing another session at the University of Notre Dame hosted by SpectrumX—an NSF Center for Spectrum Innovation.
We’ll be collecting public comments in response to our RFC until April 17.
The point is that this process and these listening sessions are part of the goal.
With your help, we will build a strategy that will keep the United States the leading innovator on spectrum-reliant services, allowing Americans to reap the benefits of next-generation technologies, and improving our economic security for years to come.