CEC Sale of Federal Spectrum

NSIAD-97-40R: Published: Nov 13, 1996. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1996.

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GAO provided information on the effects of the transfer of certain radio frequencies on the Navy's Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) Program. GAO noted that: (1) the government conducts about 90 percent of its radio frequency operations below 3.1 gigahertz, but only has exclusive use of 17 percent of the spectrum; (2) the federal government is required to provide a span of radio frequencies to the Federal Communication Commission for allocation to public users; (3) additional legislation may be introduced that would convert as much as 25 percent of the current total federal radio frequency spectrum to public use; (4) according to Department of Defense (DOD) officials, the transfer of additional federal spectrum to public use could potentially impair future operation of CEC and other DOD military systems; (5) expansion of CEC missions could require significant additional frequencies than originally identified; (6) foreign countries could follow the U.S. lead to allow commercial users to operate in frequency bands formerly reserved for military use and charge the United States for use of their frequencies; and (7) three studies of military spectrum requirements are in progress that could provide information required to fully assess frequency requirements for CEC and other DOD systems, but none of these studies will be finished before the transfer of the next 25 Mhz expected in January 1997.

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