Update on Spectrum Policy Initiative and Recent Efforts

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We’d like to share some of Silicon Flatirons’ recent work on spectrum policy with you.


Snooping by fake cell sites; life-critical insulin pumps controlled by a hostile smartphone; an attacker tricking a self-driving car’s navigation system. We all know that wireless systems have become indispensable, but it isn’t clear that decision makers are adequately addressing the risks of failure.

To discuss these spectrum vulnerabilities, Silicon Flatirons convened two dozen experts at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2019. Three themes emerged from this discussion: difficulties in detecting and understanding spectrum vulnerabilities, the importance of classifying and prioritizing them, and the need to identify and mitigate their causes. Silicon Flatirons alum Chris Laughlin’s report on the roundtable is now available.

In order to bring this topic to a wider audience, we are holding a conference entitled “Saving Our Spectrum: Handling Radio Layer Vulnerabilities in Wireless Systems” in Boulder on October 10, 2019. It features keynotes by leaders at the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Defense; panel discussions on health care, cellular communications, and next steps and solutions; and an optional primer to make the topic accessible to non-experts. Registration is now open and the conference will be streamed online.


Underscoring CU Boulder’s commitment to interdisciplinary and practical educational opportunities, this summer’s Maymester Spectrum Course hosted almost 30 law and engineering students for a three-week intensive course taught by Executive Fellows Bryan Tramont and Dale Hatfield, and Senior Fellow (and ATLAS Institute Associate Director) Jill Dupré. The course offered an all-star line-up of guest speakers, including the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau Chief, the head of the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analysis, the lead Canadian spectrum regulator, the leader of a spectrum venture capital firm, and speakers from Echostar, Disney, Google, and other spectrum users. From here, nine law students set out for Washington, D.C. to apply their newfound knowledge through the Silicon Flatirons’ Hatfield Scholars and DC Summer Programs.

Last month, Silicon Flatirons partnered with CU’s ATLAS and the Technology, Cybersecurity and Policy Program (TCP) to host a group from the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI). Twenty regulators and business leaders from South America, Africa, and Asia came to Wolf Law for a one-week intensive course that offered tools to manage effectively in a period of accelerating change; topics included technology trends, leadership, cultivating innovation, spectrum management, and approaches to regulation. Dale was the lead instructor for the course, and with Jill Dupré, he brought together speakers from around campus and executives from around the world. Both of these courses reinforce Silicon Flatiron’s commitment to educating and training future practitioners and leaders.

Public Service

We believe that public service is a way anyone can contribute to good spectrum governance. We are delighted that Dale has been reappointed to the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) and the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC). Dale was instrumental in establishing the TAC twenty years ago, and he delivered remarks at the anniversary celebration this spring. Pierre has stepped down from the TAC, but the work he started there on harm claim thresholds and risk-informed interference assessment continues to gain support. Pierre will be stepping down from the board of TPRC, the annual communications policy conference, in September after six years of service.

Should you have comments or ideas for our Spectrum Initiative here at Silicon Flatirons, please contact us at Dale.Hatfield@colorado.edu and Pierre.deVries@colorado.edu.

With best wishes,

Pierre de Vries & Dale Hatfield
Spectrum Initiative Co-directors and Executive Fellows

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