AT&T, Nokia among those endorsing spectrum-sharing tests in 'model city'

Commenters applauded a federal government proposal to set up a public-private partnership that would create a model city within a real city for testing spectrum-sharing policies and technologies.

The plan was floated in July by the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). At the time, they said the urban test city "could include large-scale sustainable facilities for systems-level testing in real-world environments across multiple frequency bands, including public safety and selected federal bands." NTIA posted comments regarding the proposal from 14 companies, cities and organizations on its website on Sept. 15.

AT&T (NYSE: T) reiterated its long-held stance that there remains no substitute for exclusively-licensed spectrum.

"For this reason, AT&T is hopeful that by testing a variety of sharing mechanisms between diverse incumbent users, additional spectrum can be cleared for commercial mobile broadband use. The Model City program should also examine how transitional sharing can be used to allow commercial wireless licensees to access new spectrum bands prior to the relocation of incumbent users," the company said.

AT&T and other commenters, such as trade group CTIA, also called for the creation of multiple model cities, rather than just one, to ensure diverse test results.

CTIA noted that the public notice issued by the FCC and NTIA does not identify the spectrum bands or particular technologies that would be tested by the model city. The organization recommended that the model city should test a wide variety of spectrum bands and added that "even as testing progresses additional candidate bands may be identified."

CTIA cautioned that current experimental licensing rules may be inadequate to suit the aims of the model city concept and may need modification to meet "the needs of a true 'sharing' environment." It also said regulators must ensure experimental licensees do not interfere with commercial wireless systems.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Solutions and Networks US, now branded as Nokia Networks, said the model city initiative could help the wireless industry set propagation standards for spectrum-sharing scenarios.

"It would be very beneficial to those who design and manufacture radio equipment to have reasonably validated propagation models in order to innovate and seek good solutions to the challenges of sharing spectrum with disparate systems ideally to the point of coexisting with those systems rather than trying to simply avoid them," Nokia said.

Nokia also recommended that entities such as the National Science Foundation or U.S. Department of Commerce be called upon to help fund the program rather than having the initiative rely solely upon funding from private industry.  

Cities backing the proposal, and positioning themselves for consideration as the program's test bed, include Chicago; Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.; Madison, Wis.; and Washington, D.C.

For more:
- see this NTIA web page
- see this FierceMobileGovernment article

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