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FCC Starts Inquiry Into Spectrum Usage and Data 

By Rachel Jewett | August 4, 2023

Via Satellite illustration.

The FCC is kicking off an inquiry into non-federal spectrum usage, particularly how new data sources and technologies like AI can aid with spectrum management. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement she hopes the result of the inquiry could “turn spectrum scarcity into abundance.” 

The FCC said it does not typically collect spectrum usage data and relies on third party sources to inform its decisions, and spectrum information is generally non-public. As the radio frequency (RF) environment becomes more congested, the FCC is looking at how it can better understand spectrum usage. 

The commission released a notice of inquiry on Aug. 4 seeking comment on best practices, operational considerations, and technical parameters, along with band-specific and service specific considerations. This inquiry does not address changes to FCC spectrum policy or service rules. Comments are due Oct. 3. 

Rosenworcel said she is optimistic for AI to help the FCC better understand network usage, support greater spectrum efficiency, and improve resiliency. 

“With demands on our airwaves growing with the Internet of Things, we want to better understand spectrum utilization in geography, frequency, and time. This is the kind of data that could help make our policies smarter and more effective,” Rosenworcel commented. “It could also help support new cognitive abilities that could teach our wireless devices to manage transmissions and avoid harmful interference on their own. In other words, smarter radios using AI can work with each other without a central authority dictating the best of use of spectrum in every environment.”