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Spectrum Management for Science in the 21st Century
and outreach necessary to enable the development of standards for greater spectral utilization and interference avoidance.
Recommendation: As cooperative spectrum-sharing techniques come into use, NSF and NASA spectrum managers should work with the regulatory agencies to enable observations that require an extremely wide spectral range. Such observations would provide a useful metric for the effectiveness of spectrum-sharing techniques for the passive services.
These new initiatives are not easy, nor will they make success a certainty. It will take a national effort to understand clearly the needs of both communities, scientific and commercial, and to motivate each to make the choices necessary to enable greater access for each to the radio spectrum. The next generation of scientific users of the radio spectrum needs to be afforded the capacity to develop the technology to seek new horizons.
Recommendation: The Office of Science and Technology Policy should create a new, permanent, representative technology advisory body to identify technical and regulatory opportunities for improving spectrum sharing among all active and passive users, both government and nongovernment.
In one sense, spectrum used for passive purposes, including Earth remote sensing and radio astronomy, can be likened to parkland preserved for public use. The true societal value of small parcels of land, especially in crowded urban areas, defies monetization, and proactive measures are required to ensure the preservation and shared use of such land. A small fraction of the radio spectrum allocated for passive purposes performs a similarly valuable societal function and requires proactive management to remain available—in this case for scientific purposes. The passive services both offer a critical return to society through operations in support of environmental prediction and provide scientific intellectual value. Although the impacts of the passive services are difficult to quantify, they are valuable to society for providing vital information for climate and weather studies and in allowing astronomical studies of the heavens. The quiet radio bands, like public parks, deserve protection.
It would be in the strongest interests of the nation to ensure that access to spectrum for scientific purposes is maintained during the coming decades. The committee’s recommendations provide a pathway for putting in place the regulatory mechanisms and associated supporting research activities necessary to accomplish this important task. The committee believes that such a pathway will also lead to greater efficiency in the active use of the spectrum, which should benefit all direct and indirect consumers of wireless telecommunications and data services.