NTIA Releases Spectrum Reports

By Michael Silbergleid

The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) recently released two reports detailing their efforts to make spectrum available for the commercial wireless industry: A Ten-Year Plan and Timetable, as well as a Fast Track Evaluation identifying the 115 megahertz of spectrum to be made available within five years. NTIA developed the reports in response to the June 28, 2010 Presidential Memorandum that directed the NTIA and FCC to make available a total of 500 megahertz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum over the next 10 years for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use.

A Ten-Year Plan identifies 2,200 MHz of spectrum for evaluation as candidate bands, outlines the process for evaluating and the steps necessary to make the selected spectrum available for wireless broadband services. The evaluation process is shown in the graphic below.

Of the 2,200 MHz of candidate spectrum:

  • 28% is allocated exclusively Federal
  • 35% is allocated exclusively commercial
  • 37% is shared by Federal and commercial users. Part of the 2,200 megahertz is 280 MHz of commercial spectrum that the FCC recommended in its National Broadband Plan which includes 120 MHz proposed to be taken from television broadcasting.

    In the Fast Track Evaluation report, NTIA examined five spectrum bands for potential reallocation within five years:

  • 1675-1710 MHz,
  • 1755-1780 MHz,
  • 3500-3650 MHz,
  • 4200-4220 MHz and
  • 4380-4400 MHz. The report recommends that various portions of these bands totaling 115 MHz be made available for wireless broadband use within five years, contingent upon the allocation of resources for necessary reallocation activities.

    NTIA recommends reallocating 1695 – 1710 MHz, currently used for dissemination of severe weather information and alerts via satellites operated by Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and 3550 – 3650 MHz, which would be shared with Department of Defense radar systems shipboard systems. NTIA recommends some geographic limitations on the availability of these bands to prevent harmful interference to government facilities in the 1695 – 1710 MHz band and to the proposed commercial services in the 3550 – 3650 MHz band.

    The reports are available on NTIA’s Web page at: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/. A summary of the reports can be found here: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2010/SpectrumFactSheet_11152010.pdf.

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