The FCC granted permission to T-Mobile USA to test the concept of sharing spectrum between federal and commercial users in the 1755-1780 MHz band. The pilot program is part of a larger government effort to use spectrum sharing technology to help meet mobile broadband demand.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement that by granting the authorization, the commission "hopes to facilitate commercial mobile broadband services in that band, which would significantly benefit millions of U.S. wireless consumers and help drive the mobile innovation economy." The tests are aimed at measuring the impact spectrum sharing will have on commercial carriers as they seek to deploy LTE.
"As we move forward, we will continue to collaborate closely with key government agencies, including NTIA and the Department of Defense, as well as private sector partners, to gain greater spectrum efficiency and unlock the many potential benefits of government-commercial spectrum sharing," he said.
T-Mobile praised the move and also thanked the Obama administration and NTIA for their work on the initiative. "The testing we propose is part of an industry-wide effort to build critical understanding of operations in this band, and we will be working with other carriers and equipment manufacturers moving ahead," Tom Sugrue, the carrier's senior vice president of government affairs, said in a statement. "There remains a critical need for additional bandwidth for commercial services, and our ability to test in this band represents an important milestone in bringing new spectrum resources to market."
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and trade group CTIA have expressed significant reservations about spectrum sharing, following a recommendation from the President's Council of Advisors on Policy and Technology that commercial entities learn to share spectrum with the federal government rather than expect exclusive access.
The CTIA has said that spectrum sharing should be considered but that it prefers for federal spectrum to be cleared and then auctioned off for commercial use. CTIA has specially cited the 1755-1780 MHz band as a spectrum band that could be cleared and paired with other AWS spectrum. Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president, regulatory affairs for CTIA, said the organization is pleased witht he FCC's action.
"This testing will provide valuable insight into opportunities and challenges of operating commercial mobile broadband services in the 1755-1780 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz bands, and it is an important step toward delivering what would be a key building block in our nation's effort to retain its global mobile broadband leadership," he said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the FCC, NTIA, federal incumbent agencies and the industry leaders who are participating in this effort."
- see this FCC notice (PDF)
- see this National Journal article
- see this Phone Scoop article
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Spectrum sharing: Easier said than done
CTIA embraces spectrum sharing, but sees it as second-best option
FCC's Genachowski eyes spectrum sharing, praises cable companies' Wi-Fi pact
NTIA finds 95 MHz of spectrum for wireless, proposes sharing parts
Article updated Aug. 15 with a statement from T-Mobile and Aug. 16 with a statement from CTIA.