T-Mobile: Not opening 1755-1780 MHz would be 'a blow to innovation'

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) made another push for the government to quickly open up the 1755-1780 MHz band, posting a blog entry on the issue one day prior to a House subcommittee hearing assessing how federal agencies can address growing demand for commercial mobile broadband spectrum.

In the blog post, Steve Sharkey, T-Mobile's director of government affairs for technology and engineering policy, urged the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration to open up the 1755-1780 MHz band, saying such a move would be in line with last month's presidential memorandum from the Obama Administration, which directed federal agencies to work on repurposing certain federal spectrum bands.

Calling the president's memorandum "an unprecedented recognition of the need for close collaboration between industry and government to develop solutions for meeting the spectrum needs of both the public and private sectors," Sharkey added, "We must seize the opportunity for near term success that can advance the trust and commitment necessary to build a new spectrum management paradigm."

He referenced an industry roadmap presented by T-Mobile, AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) that lays out a path for making the 1755-1780 MHz portion available in time to be paired and auctioned with the already-cleared 2155-2180 MHz band, which Congress has mandated be licensed by February 2015.

"Missing the opportunity to pair these bands would result in billions of dollars of lost auction revenue, be a blow to innovation and the economy and set back the current industry/government efforts by years," said Sharkey.

T-Mobile is not scheduled to testify at the June 27 hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Speakers from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), CTIA, NTIA and the Department of Defense are expected to delve into technological tools and policy approaches that can help federal agencies serve their own communications needs while freeing spectrum for commercial use

The FCC granted T-Mobile Special Temporary Authority (STA) in August 2012 to test sharing between federal agencies, which are the incumbent users, and commercial users in the 1755-1780 MHz band. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are also involved in the effort. "The commercial and government participants continue to work on testing and analysis," said a background memo for the subcommittee's hearing.

Sharkey acknowledged that outstanding questions remain regarding how to address higher encumbered frequencies, specifically 1780-1850 MHz. "Solutions for the 1780-1850 MHz portion of the band are complex, and after a year of discussions, it is clear that we will not fully resolve the issues for the full band in time to meet the February 2015 licensing deadline," he said.

Further study of the 1780-1850 MHz portion of the band would ensure exclusive federal access to that spectrum for at least 10 years--much longer than originally envisioned. Sharkey said that highlights the mobile industry's "commitment to taking the needs of federal agencies seriously."

Related articles:
- see this T-Mobile blog entry
- see this House subcommittee memo (PDF)

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