NTIA’s Redl resigns as top telecom adviser

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) chief David Redl abruptly resigned on Thursday, leaving some to question how the move will affect the U.S. standing at the World Radiocommunication Conference later this year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described Redl as a longtime colleague who served with distinction during his 18 months at NTIA. “He was a vocal advocate within the Department of Commerce for repurposing federal spectrum for commercial use and fostering the private sector’s lead in 5G deployment,” Pai said in a statement. “I thank David for his service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Asked about Redl’s departure during a press conference following the FCC’s monthly open meeting, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who worked with Redl on the 2012 spectrum act, also thanked him for his years of service.

The U.S. has a very capable individual in Grace Koh, who will lead the U.S. delegation at WRC-19, he said. The conference takes place Oct. 28-Nov. 22 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. “I think the delegation does not suffer,” O’Rielly said, noting that Redl would have been an added asset but whoever is picked to replace him can fulfill those duties.

Asked a similar question, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said she cannot recall a time when two different arms of an administration have gotten into the type of public disagreements that have occurred recently, such with the 24 GHz auction and the 37 GHz band. “We’re going to need to be in a situation where we better align our federal and commercial spectrum policies,” she said, adding those types of disagreements are not helpful heading into WRC 19.

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The World Radiocommunication Conferences are held every four years to update the international radio regulations. WRC-19 is expected to address several important issues, including spectrum management, next-generation mobile broadband systems and global satellite services.  

Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), said Redl’s work at the Department of Commerce with the NTIA, and elsewhere in government, has had a profound and positive effect on the U.S. communications landscape. Redl is also a former director of regulatory affairs at CTIA.

“He was passionate about getting affordable broadband deployed to all Americans and advancing U.S. leadership in new technologies,” Aiken said. “WISPA especially appreciates all that David did with the myriad government stakeholders to help free up more shared spectrum for commercial use. These important efforts, we hope, will carry forward at the NTIA.”

NTIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but The Hill reported that Diane Rinaldo, who had been Redl’s deputy at NTIA the past year, will be taking over as acting administrator.