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NTIA Can No Longer Overlook These Facts in Any Plans for Our Nation’s Airwaves


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today after the Pentagon issued a public version of its study that contains recommendations and findings about sharing spectrum—specifically within the lower 3 GHz. On February 7th, Senator Fischer wrote a letter to President Biden urging this report’s public release, along with Senators Hirono and King.

“The Pentagon has finally released a public version of its report on critical spectrum airwaves, a release I’ve called for since last year.

“Modern equipment vital to our nation’s defense, including aircraft and radar, requires access to the entirety of the lower 3GHz band of spectrum. To protect this country from adversaries like China, the DOD must retain that access.

“NTIA can no longer overlook the facts included in this report. As I’ve said previously: we should not continue to see DOD only as the pot of spectrum gold at the end of the rainbow,”said Senator Fischer.

Background:

While Senator Fischer supports finding solutions to enhance shared military and commercial use of spectrum (such as via dynamic spectrum sharing), Senator Fischer is deeply concernedwith the administration’s failure to take full account of the military’s needs in drafting its new spectrum strategy. The report on the lower 3 GHz is essential to charting the path forward for these mission-critical airwaves. This report was authorized by Congress in a bipartisan manner, and should have been released six months ago — when it was completed — to better inform the National Spectrum Strategy.

In March, Senator Fischer warned of the Strategy’s implementation plan, as currently outlined by NTIA, an agency within the Department of Commerce:

“This plan follows NTIA's pattern of ignoring serious concerns from the Department of Defense about management of our federal airwaves. These spectrum airwaves are vital to highly sensitive and unique defense systems that keep Americans safe — you simply cannot slap a price tag on relocating them. In many cases, the costs are astronomical, or the systems cannot be re-engineered to function effectively in different bands of spectrum. If NTIA continues to move forward on its current course, mission-critical defense operations will be at risk and taxpayer dollars will be wasted. NTIA is at a pivotal moment and must consider our nation's spectrum needs more holistically.”

When the administration first released news of its new nationwide spectrum strategy in November, Senator Fischer said:

“The administration’s new spectrum strategy deliberately undermines our military’s use of federal airwaves. Modern equipment vital to our nation’s defense, including aircraft and radar, operates on specific airwaves and cannot be moved. The administration’s first priority must be the safety and security of our country — that means preserving a portion of the finite spectrum for vital military use.”

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