October 20, 2020. Last week, on October 13 and October 15, the Silicon Flatirons Center at Colorado Law, University of Colorado Boulder, hosted an online conference on Evidence-Based Spectrum Policy.  The conference emphasized the importance of research and analysis for decision-making, exploring the process of evidence-based policymaking and its influence on spectrum-dependent services.  The program included keynote speakers, panels, and virtual breakout rooms where attendees could interact with speakers and peers in smaller groups.

Eric Burger, the Assistant Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy delivered one of the keynote addresses.  Mr. Burger discussed the importance of 5G and how freeing up mid-band spectrum, removing regulatory hurdles, and securing U.S. communication networks from foreign adversaries are intricately tied to evidence.  Mr. Burger stressed that success for the United States must come by collecting evidence and using it to influence policies – such as the plan for the C-band transition or the CBRS auction – and only then moving towards achieving policy goals.

After his keynote came the first panel, titled Spectrum Sharing Policy Among Active and Passive Services.  The panel included the Vice President of Engineering with Hawkeye 360, the Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for EchoStar, an engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Program Director of the National Science Foundation Division of Astronomical Sciences.  This panel focused on what evidence means for spectrum sharing among active and passive users.  The panelists discussed the feasibility of spectrum sharing and the necessity of objective evidence-based decision-making in order to achieve successful spectrum sharing at a high level.  Significantly, the panelists noted that making evidence the basis for data-driven policy goals will guide provisions, limitations, and presumptions, and will avoid affecting users under existing policies.  All panelists agreed that collecting data, making assumptions, simplifying the issues, and sharing information will be integral to the future of spectrum management policy.  Lastly, the panel was asked to point to an active and/or passive policy that needs to be driven and supported by evidence.  Jennifer Manner, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for EchoStar, noted aggregate interference, 5G, and mega-constellations as current issues requiring the support of further evidence and data.

The final panel of the conference was titled Resilience in Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT).  The panel included professionals from the Electric Power Research Institute, PNT Foundation, Colorado School of Mines, and the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.  Generally, Position focuses on the ability to determine one’s location and orientation; Navigation focuses on the ability to determine current and/or future position, and Timing focuses on the ability to acquire and maintain accurate and precise time from a set standard.  The panel focused initially on PNT as a critical service and how each component of PNT will be necessary to create resilience in coverage.  Additionally, the panelists stressed that PNT services are necessary both for government and private citizens.  The panel discussed the importance of expertise, knowledge, and resources to modernize PNT-dependent systems and to make them more resilient.

The Evidence-Based Spectrum Policy conference was the second of two events in Boulder, CO during 2020 that focused on current issues involving spectrum and access.  The first event was the 2020 International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technology conference, which discussed the requirements for spectrum security and reliability in the 5G future.  See here for upcoming virtual events, conferences, and panels hosted by Silicon Flatiron.