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In a rare show of unity over national communications policy, Google, the wireless industry and consumer advocates have come together to support a bill that would require the federal government to take a complete inventory of the national airwaves to determine what spectrum is being used, how it is being used and who is using it.
The new law, if passed, would require the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to report on the use of all spectrum bands between 300 megahertz and 3.5 gigahertz, including information on the licenses or government user operating in each band and whether the spectrum is actually in use.
"There needs to be a very specific accounting not only of what spectrum is being used, but who is using it," said John Walls, a spokesman for CTIA.
The unusual alliance between Google and public interest groups and big telecommunications companies may be temporary. The telecom companies want to have the opportunity to buy a license to use any extra spectrum at an auction, as has traditionally been done.
Google, on the other hand, advocates the use of new technologies that would allow the spectrum to be shared by whoever needs it.
The commercial wireless industry has had an almost insatiable appetite for more airwaves, especially the mobile telephone companies that want to offer high-speed Internet access service and for wireless Internet access points, known as Wi-Fi hotspots.
But they have faced difficulties wrestling airwaves away from the U.S. government, which recently has had a growing need to meet new security and military needs and refused to give up existing spectrum unless comparable airwaves are found.
I don't see where knowing who was using what frequency would impact a regular person.
I was thinking in terms of a SHTF situation. It may, at some point, be necessary to use radio to communicate vital info among us regular folk and it seems this would impede that ability.