The Catholic University of America


Ensuring Enough Spectrum for the Future


Americans have rapidly moved to the point where a majority take it for granted that information of every kind—including movies, videos, music, games and thousands of specialized applications—will be delivered to their fingertips via a Smartphone or other mobile wireless device.
But these inventions take up rapidly dwindling space on the airwaves. To maintain the level of service that customers demand, new spectrum, or space on the bandwidth, is needed.
The Obama administration has pledged to make 500 MHz of spectrum available over the next ten years to meet the rapidly growing demand for wireless services. How this should unfold was the subject of a March 15th symposium, “Spectrum Strategies: Exploring the Future of America’s Invisible Infrastructure,” sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Communications Law Studies and CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law & Policy, in association with the Federal Communications Bar Association.
Hosted by the law firm Wiley Rein LLP at its conference center in downtown Washington, D.C., the event drew experts from government, industry, and private practice to explore perspectives and proposals on the spectrum crunch.
“Spectrum is a vital ingredient. Our work on this front is absolutely vital to continued U.S. competitiveness,” said Anna Gomez, (left) deputy assistant secretary for communications and information with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Much of the discussion was technical in nature, as panelists discussed and debated where future sections of spectrum may be found and auctioned off to industry bidders by the FCC. But all of the guests agreed that the demand for new real estate on the airwaves will only become more intense.
“It’s a future looming crisis if we don’t get our ducks in a row now,” said Charla Rath, vice president of wireless policy development for Verizon. “This isn’t just about next year. This is about several years down the road.”

Derek Khlopin,(above right) a 1996 graduate of Catholic University’s Institute for Communications Law Studies and currently head of government affairs in the U.S. for Nokia Siemens Networks, said it is estimated that in the not-too-distant future, a typical mobile device user will be downloading the informational equivalent of a full-sized book every day.
“We need to find as many opportunities as we can to move spectrum into the marketplace,” said Paula Boyd, regulatory counsel for Microsoft Corporation. 
The symposium garnered attention from trade press and mainstream media, including Communications Daily, TR Daily and Politico.
The afternoon’s final panel offered “A Conversation about Reallocation” with FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell and Richard Wiley, managing partner of Wiley Rein LLP.