Government Spectrum Sharing Advocate Joins Trump FCC Transition Team

Roslyn Layton

President-elect Donald Trump has named a strong proponent of spectrum sharing and the internet of things (IoT) to his Federal Communications Commission transition team. That could make for big changes for government agencies holding licenses to airwaves the telecom industry covets.

Roslyn Layton, an economist and scholar at Aalborg University in Denmark, is likely to bring an international perspective to the team’s review of the FCC’s policies and administration. She has studied U.S. and European telecom markets, law and policy.

If the team’s assessments and policy outlooks have any sway with the FCC under Trump, Layton’s views on sharing government-held spectrum with private industry groups could prove a driving force for the future of telecom policy.

The tech and telecom industries -- and their clients in a host of other industries including transportation, health care and agriculture -- have been saying they need more spectrum to support the growth of IoT-connected devices and services, predicted to number in the billions by 2020.

Federally-held spectrum should be the source to meet that demand, Layton said in a Nov. 17 U.S. News and World Report op-ed.

“In order to ensure a timely and aggressive deployment of IoT devices and IoT related technologies, our federal agencies, which are currently sitting on two-thirds of America’s spectrum – the invisible airwaves that power cellular networks and mobile broadband connectivity – must begin sharing their swath of wireless airwaves with private industry,” Layton wrote in the post.

Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler’s FCC has already taken steps in conjunction with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees government-held spectrum, to implement spectrum sharing plans. But Layton’s stance may mean the next FCC will move more aggressively to open up more government spectrum for sharing, such as with a request from network operators Ligado Networks to share some of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s spectrum.

“Let’s hope the new administration does more than talk about spectrum sharing. It’s time to move forward on this proposal and other sharing test beds,” Layton wrote in the post.

For years, Congress and industry groups have been batting around ideas on how to open up more spectrum used by the Defense and Interior departments, two agencies with some of the largest spectrum holdings.

Layton’s participation with the FCC transition team could signal that those proposals might gain momentum in the Trump administration.

Layton declined to comment. The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image by Klean Denmark, used with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license