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U.S. Regulatory Structure. Tomas E. Gergely Summer School on Spectrum Management and Radio Astronomy Green Bank, June 2002. U.S. Telecommunications Authority . The 1934 Telecommunications Act Provides for Regulation of Telecommunications in the U.S.A.

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u s regulatory structure

U.S. Regulatory Structure

Tomas E. Gergely

Summer School

on Spectrum Management

and Radio Astronomy

Green Bank, June 2002

u s telecommunications authority
U.S. Telecommunications Authority
  • The 1934 Telecommunications Act Provides for Regulation of Telecommunications in the U.S.A.
    • Establishes Dual Structure, Unique to the U.S.A.:
      • Government Telecommunications Functions Delegated to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA)NTIA Is Assisted by the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC)
      • Private Sector Telecommunications Regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • The Dept. of State Has Ultimate Authority in Any Formal U.S. Representation Outside the U.S.
  • Spectrum policy regarding scientific research is contained in the US Government Telecommunications Policy statement:
    • “The United States is vitally dependent upon the use of the radio spectrum to carry out national policies and achieve national goals.”…..
    • “Specifically, in support of national policies and the achievement of national goals, the primary objectives are:
      • …i) to promote scientific research, development and exploration..”
    • “ Priorities among these areas of interest are normally determined on a case by-case basis, and are dependent upon many factors, including past and foreseen political and administrative decisions.”
      • (Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management, Chapter 2.1)
ntia functions
NTIA - Functions
  • Serves as the President's principal advisor on telecommunications policies
  • Develop (in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission) a comprehensive plan for management of all electromagnetic spectrum resources, including jointly determining the National Table of Frequency Allocations
  • Develop (in coordination with the Secretary of State and other interested agencies) plans, policies, and programs which relate to international telecommunications issues, conferences, and negotiations
  • Assign frequencies to radio stations belonging to and operated by the United States
  • Acquire, analyze and disseminate data and perform research on the description and prediction of electromagnetic wave propagation and the conditions which affect propagation, on the nature of electromagnetic noise and interference, and on methods for the more efficient use of the electromagnetic spectrum for telecommunications purposes
  • Conduct research and analysis of radio systems characteristics, and operating techniques affecting the utilization of the electromagnetic spectrum, in coordination with specialized, related research and analysis performed by other Federal agencies in their areas of responsibility
the interdepartment radio advisory committee irac
The Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC)

The IRAC Advises NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management on the Federal Government Agencies Spectrum Requirements, and Related Issues

Meets Twice Monthly, Chaired by the Deputy Assistant Administrator, NTIA/OSM

irac structure
IRAC Structure


Spectrum Issues and Policies


Government Preparations for WRCs


Analyzes Major Systems

for Spectrum Availability


Deals with Frequency

Assignments and Licenses


Technical Issues and


Ad-Hoc Committees

on Specific Issues

(e.g. WRC Implementation)


Technical Subcommittee

fcc functions
FCC Functions
  • Responsible for Managing the Spectrum to Meet the Needs of the Private Sector and State and Local Governments
  • Through:
    • Use of Advisory Committees of limited duration and responsibility (e.g. The WRC Advisory Committee (WAC), set up to prepare for a WRC)
    • Public rulemakings (as prescribed by the APA)
  • In the U.S., Spectrum Is Divided Into:
    • Government exclusive, (e.g.
    • Non-government exclusive, and
    • Shared (govt - non-govt) bands (Most are in this category)
  • Spectrum Related Issues Require Actions by the NTIA, the FCC or Both
  • The FCC and the NTIA “coordinate” on spectrum decisions involving sharedbands (This extends to WRC proposals involving such bands)
the international telecommunications advisory committee itac
The International Telecommunications Advisory Committee (ITAC)
  • Permanent Advisory Committee to the Dept. of State on telecom matters
    • Mirrors the ITU Sector Structure
    • Operates under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)
    • This means that meetings have to be open to all
  • ITAC-R mirrors the ITU-R Study Group Structure
    • SG 7 (Science Services) (NASA)
      • WP 7D (Radio Astronomy) (NSF)
        • 4-6+ meetings/year, accessible by phone
  • Documents must be approved by the US National Committee prior to being forwarded to the ITU SGs
    • USNC composed by ~ 100 individuals
    • Papers posted on website for comments for 10-14 days
    • In case of disagreement, decision is made jointly by NTIA, FCC and DoS
    • This happened several times with papers of interest to radio astronomy
radio astronomy in the us spectrum management process
Radio Astronomy in the US Spectrum Management Process
  • Government: NSF Spectrum Manager
    • Provides Input to NTIA, through:
        • IRAC and Subcommittees
        • Directly
  • Non-government: Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
        • Funded by NSF and NASA
        • Chairman and members selected by NAS
    • Provides input to the FCC through
        • Filings, in Response to NPRM, NOI, etc.
        • Advice to NSF and NASA Spectrum Managers
  • ITAC-R: US WP 7D
    • Provides Input through US Documents to WP 7D meetings

State Department


Telecommunication Union












US Allocation











National Academy

of Sciences





US Radio Astronomers





Union of

Radio Science



Space Research

the allocation table art 5 of the rr
The Allocation Table (Art. 5 of the RR)
  • Frequencies are:
    • allocated to services
    • allotted to areas or countries
    • assigned to stations
  • Spectrum Allocations to the various radio services can be:
    • Primary
        • Table Allocations
          • Footnote Allocations
    • Secondary
        • Table Allocations
          • Footnote Allocations
      • stations of a secondary service shall not cause harmful interference to stations of primary services
      • cannot claim protection from from stations of a primary service
      • stations of a secondary service CAN claim protection from stations of a secondary service to which frequencies are assigned at a later date
    • Unprotected
      • Some bands are allocated to the radio astronomy service on an unprotected basis. In this case, footnotes to the allocated frequency band urge administrations to take all practicable steps to protect these observations from harmful interference either from in-band radio services or from unwanted emissions from adjacent band radio services.
the us allocation table
The US Allocation Table
  • In the U.S., bands may be allocated to:
    • the Government, e.g. the 267-322 MHz band allocated to the Fixed and Mobile Services
    • the Private Sector (also referred to as the non-government) e.g. the 88-108 MHz Broadcasting bands
    • Jointly to the government and the privates sector (most bands)
    • All Radio Astronomy bands are govt/non-govt. ( NRAO and NAIC are government operations, while University facilities are not)
  • Allocations may be qualified by footnotes:
    • Government (applies to govt. only)
      • G126--Differential-Global-Positioning-System (DGPS) Stations may be authorized on a primary basis in the bands 108-117.975 MHz, 1559-1610 MHz, and 5000-5150 MHz for the specific purpose of transmitting DGPS information intended for aircraft navigation.
    • Non-Government (applies to non-govt. only)
      • NG104--The use of the bands 10.7-11.7 Hz (space-to-Earth) and 12.75-13.25 GHz (Earth-to-space) in the fixed-satellite service in the geostationary-satellite orbit shall be limited to international systems, i.e., other than domestic systems.
    • Joint
      • US256--Radio astronomy observations may be made in the band 1718.8-1722.2 MHz on an unprotected basis. Agencies providing other services in this band in the geographic areas listed below should bear in mind that their operations may affect those observations, and those agencies are encouraged to minimize potential interference to the observations insofar as it is practicable.
  • The National Table of Frequency Allocations is comprised of the U.S.Government Table of Frequency Allocations and the FCC Table of Frequency Allocations.The National Table indicates the normal national frequency allocation planning and the degree of conformity with the ITU Table
how does the dual track or triad process work wrc preparations
How Does the Dual Track (or Triad) Process Work: WRC Preparations
  • Three Track Process:
    • Government proposals developed within

the RadioConference Subcommittee (RCS)

of the IRAC with and/or based on Agency (e.g. NSF) inputs

    • Private Sector Proposals are developed by the FCC
      • FCC Convenes WRC (Industry) Advisory Committee (WAC)

to Provide Private Sector Input

      • WAC Develops Proposals
      • FCC Publishes Notice of Inquiry (NoI) Regarding Proposals
    • Govt. and NTIA proposals often differ and have to be reconciled
    • This is sometimes (usually?) a lengthy and painful process!
    • U.S. Radiocommunication Sector SGs, WPs and TGs
      • Develop Technical Input to ITU-R SGs, Input to CPM Report
  • Final Set of U.S. Proposals Developed by NTIA, FCC and DoS

TG 200/300

how does the dual track process work wrc implementation
How Does the Dual Track Process Work: WRC Implementation
  • Govt. Implementation of WRC actions:(usually a fairly straightforward process)
    • IRAC AH committee considers WRC actions and how to incorporate them into the US Government Table
    • Once agreement is reached, proposal forwarded to IRAC for approval
    • Upon IRAC approval, NTIA sends package to the FCC
  • FCC Implementation
    • Implementation proposal put together by International Bureau
    • Circulated to other Bureaus for coordination and approval
    • Circulated to Commissioners
    • Put out for Public comment through a Notice of ProposedRulemaking (NPRM)
    • After public comment, FCC coordinates with NTIA and adopts changes through a Report & Order
problems and advantages of us process
Problems and Advantages of US Process
  • Advantage:

Isolates Government and Private Sector

Interests and Procedures

  • Disadvantage:

“Dual spectrum jurisdiction has become fertileground for internecine squabbles within government that has industry increasingly asking who's in charge.”

(Recent newspaper article)

how to get involved with itu r sgs wps and the rest
How To Get Involved With ITU-R SGs WPs, and the rest
  • In the U.S.:
    • Membership in US ITU-R SGs, WPs, etc. is open, as provided by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that regulates their functioning
    • SG Meeting Dates and Places have to be announced in the Federal Register 30 days in advance of the meeting
      • WP meetings do not need to be similarly advertised,

as they are considered subcommittees of the main group

    • If someone desires to participate, he/she needs to:

a) contact the Chair of the SG/WP or

b) simply show up at the meeting

    • Membership in CORF is by invitation of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council
    • Membership in WP Delegations is up to the Chair
    • Membership in SG Delegations is up to the State Dept.

(hardly anyone is ever refused!)

    • Membership in WRC Delegations is determined by the State Dept., acting on Recommendation of NTIA and/or FCC
  • Elsewhere: ?
ties account and how to get one
TIES Account and how to get one?
  • What is TIES?
    • The ITU Telecom Information Exchange Services (TIES) is a set of networked information services and resources for the global telecommunications community.
  • What can you access?
    • Study Group documents
    • Conference documents
  • What can’t you access?
    • ITU documentation that requires payment (Handbooks, Recommendations, Final Acts, etc. )
  • Who can have access?
    • Government Telecommunication Administrations of Member States and Sector Members
  • How to go about getting one?
    • In U.S., through NTIA and FCC (ask me)
    • IUCAF (ask Darrel)
    • Elsewhere?