FCC and NTIA Sign Spectrum Coordination Memorandum of Understanding

On August 2, 2022, NTIA and the FCC announced that they had signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) on spectrum coordination.  This is the first time in 20 years that the MOU has been updated and marks continued progress on the agencies’ February 15, 2022 Spectrum Coordination Initiative.  The revised MOU establishes a stronger framework for managing spectrum use and planning through:

  1. Quarterly meetings between the chair of the FCC and head of NTIA to conduct joint spectrum planning on issuing licenses, future spectrum needs for federal and non-federal users, the actions needed to accommodate those needs, actions necessary to promote efficient and effective use of spectrum, identification of spectrum policies that need to be examined in the next 12 months, and any other spectrum related matters.
  2. Monthly meetings between FCC and NTIA staff to exchange information of mutual interest on the above, including tentative schedules for upcoming proposed actions and briefings on current and anticipated future uses of spectrum.
  3. Advanced notice when one agency may take action that could cause interference to the other’s operations.  Ideally the notice is to be provided with enough time for the affected agency to comment prior to final action and at least 20 business days before final action is taken.  Additionally, the FCC agrees to provide similar opportunity for comment in instances in which NTIA notifies the FCC that non-federal operations critical to federal agency missions could potentially experience harmful interference from a proposed action.
  4. Improved communication between NTIA and the FCC on matters relating to management of spectrum resources, including though agency staff engaging in an engineering collaborative to identify best practices, develop metrics, and examine technologies to enhance spectrum use, timely participating in active proceedings with relevant technical data and analysis that is based on sound engineering principles, and providing relevant and appropriate information on the nature of federal and non-federal operations and use of spectrum.
  5. Reaching consensus on technical, procedural, and policy differences whenever possible.
  6. Staff cooperation to develop and implement a process through which evidence-based concerns of either agency about harmful interference posed by a final action at the opposing agency can be escalated.
  7. Maintaining a current list of each agency’s authorized frequency assignments that can be exchanged as appropriate to coordinate spectrum use.

The agencies also agreed to review and update the MOU every four years.

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