PCAST Report Update – NNI and Broadband

Yesterday’s report from the President’s Council of Advisers for Science and Technology (PCAST) was the third of the year, following reports on education and nanotechnology earlier in the year.  This year’s nanotechnology and broadband reports represent the eleventh and twelfth reports issued by the PCAST of this administration.

The broadband report is focused on government-held spectrum, consistent with President Obama’s goal of finding 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband use.  The report concludes that increasingly narrow assignments of frequencies would be impractical and costly.  They recommend the government pursue its strategy of expanding broadband availability by determining spectrum bands that would lend itself to spectrum sharing.  And this is the point where I have to concede the limits of my technical expertise.  I have no idea if this is a valid strategy forward, or even the best available strategy for the government to pursue broadband expansion.

The nanotechnology report is required by statute and addresses the National Nanotechnology Initiative; this is the fourth report in a series and the second issued by PCAST during this administration.  Commercialization was an emphasis in the previous nanotechnology report, and PCAST is pleased with the progress demonstrated in the time since that report.  However, they are concerned with a lack of sufficient progress in strategic planning and implementation, as well as metrics and assessments of environmental health and safety related to nanotechnology.  As seems consistent with many initiatives for which the Office of Science and Technology Policy has responsibility, there is a lack of sufficient resources.

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