The IT Law Wiki


Office of the President, Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century, 39 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 726, 727 (May 23, 2003) (full-text).


In May 2003, the President issued a memorandum to the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies outlining his “Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century" (also known as the Spectrum Policy Initiative). The memorandum stated that:

The existing legal and policy framework for spectrum management has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and spectrum use. Under the existing framework, the Government generally reviews every change in spectrum use, a process that is often slow and inflexible, and can discourage the introduction of new technology. Some spectrum users, including Government agencies, maintain that the existing spectrum process is insufficiently responsive to the need to protect current critical uses.

The Initiative called for a critical review of current spectrum management policies and practices to establish a new U.S. spectrum policy that will foster economic growth; ensure U.S. national and homeland security; maintain our global leadership in communications technology and services; and satisfy other vital U.S. needs in areas such as public safety, scientific research, Federal transportation infrastructure, and law enforcement.

NTIA activities[]

The President directed the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a comprehensive review to identify recommendations for improving spectrum management policies and procedures for the federal government and to address state, local, and private spectrum use. The President charged the Secretary of Commerce with preparing recommendations to:

(a) facilitate a modernized and improved spectrum management system;
(b) facilitate policy changes to create incentives for more efficient and beneficial use of spectrum and to provide a higher degree of predictability and certainty in the spectrum management process as it applies to incumbent users;
(c) develop policy tools to streamline the deployment of new and expanded services and technologies, while preserving national security, homeland security, and public safety, and encouraging scientific research; and,
(d) develop means to address the critical spectrum needs of national security, homeland security, public safety, federal transportation infrastructure, and science.

The Memorandum also established the federal government Spectrum Policy Task Force to focus on improving spectrum management policies and procedures to stimulate more efficient and beneficial federal use of the spectrum.

Pursuant to this initiative, NTIA has implemented measures to promote greater access to the radio spectrum by improving the efficiency of radio systems and operations.[1] Specifically, NTIA has

  1. modernized Federal spectrum management processes with advanced information technology, aiming toward fully-automated, web-based analysis, coordination, and record-keeping capabilities;
  2. enhanced spectrum engineering and analytical tools by developing best practices recognized by the government and industry; and (3) promoted the use of market-based economic mechanisms in spectrum management by recognizing the role that spectrum value must play in Federal procurement decision-making.


  1. NTIA, "Spectrum Management for the 21st Century: Plan to Implement Recommendations of the President's Spectrum Policy Initiative" (2006) (full-text); "Transcript of Hearings, Improving Spectrum Management through Economic and other Incentives" (Feb. 28, 2006) (full-text), and (March 1, 2006) (full-text).


  • NTIA, Networked Nation: Broadband in America, 2007, at 6 (2008) (full-text).