Congress creates (another) superfluous Task Force to examine possible Government Spectrum Auction

After being told so repeatedly, the U.S House of Representatives thinks they might not be using their wireless spectrum block to its full potential, so like any good bureaucracy — they formed a task force. They assuredly hope it will be more effective than pretty much every other task force the government has ever made, or maybe not. The U.S congress is aiming to free-up government-owned spectrum for airwave-hogging 3G and 4G consumer networks and appliances as wireless spectrum availability becomes a strong issue in the country as available spectrum wanes despite less than half the population having upgraded to high-speed 3G and 4G networks.

This bipartisan task force, dubbed the Federal Spectrum Working Group, hopes to trim the fat from their spectrum use to help solve a good chunk of the spectrum crunch. The U.S government is currently the largest owner of wireless spectrum. The FSWG will focus on freeing-up airwaves, especially on spectrum-hogging departments like the Defense Department, who uses a large bulk of government spectrum in surveillance and, surprisingly, weapons testing.

The task force hopes to find spectrum chunks that are used only sporadically or non-continuously, or that have geographic overlaps.

Without such spectrum auctions the U.S wireless community will face rising wireless prices with lower usage caps with possible coverage shortages in the future. This government spectrum auction is just one of the spectrum bunches being eyed for auction by the Federal Communications Commission who are looking to increase the competitiveness of the telecommunications market by answering market shortages. After February’s payroll tax legislation allowing incentives for spectrum-releasing companies, other spectrum bunches are expected to be put to auction shortly, including 120MHz of broadcast TV spectrum.

February’s legislation notably lacked however a solid plan that committed government spectrum to auction, hence the rather inevitable creation of a public-appeasing task force. Despite the formation of this task force it will likely still be a fair while before any government spectrum is actually auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The delay tactics employed by congress come despite the FCC’s approved 2010 National Broadband Plan that indicated the government could quickly free-up spectrum by making licensing and departmental usage more efficient. It also comes despite Obama asking the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to examine possible government spectrum releases, a request in which he was typically cock-blocked by congress.

The NTIA released a report in March that identified 95MHz of government spectrum that could be freed up once users were transitioned off it. The report also detailed how much of government spectrum could be partially released to the private sector by time-sharing blocks of it.

Personally, the task force creation seems to be a make-work or time-stalling technique by congress who does not want to release their own spectrum, as with reports like those available from the NTIA the task force is more redundant than useful. But then again, most task forces are.