NTIA report finds 115 MHz of spectrum for wireless

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration found 115 MHz of spectrum now currently in the hands of the federal government that could be used for wireless broadband, the agency said in a new report.

The NTIA’s report includes detailed timetables and analysis. The report, which was the result of a memorandum President Obama issued in June, was widely praised within the wireless industry, which has been clamoring for more spectrum to meet growing mobile data demands. The proposal, which came in two forms--a  10-year timetable and a so-called fast track option for five years--dovetails with the FCC's national broadband plan, which calls for freeing 300 MHz of spectrum over the next five years and a total of 500 MHz over the next 10 years for wireless.

Of the 115 MHz the Commerce Department agency identified, 100 MHz would be shared with Department of Defense radar systems and 15 MHz is now being used by weather satellites.

The NTIA said that of the 2,200 MHz of spectrum it surveyed, 28 percent is used by the federal government, 35 percent is used by commercial companies, and 37 percent is shared between federal and commercial holders. 

The report was praised by the industry, but CTIA President Steve Largent also said the government should focus on bands specifically suited for mobile broadband. "The 15 MHz of spectrum that NTIA has identified below 3 GHz is just a start," Largent said in a statement. "We will continue to work to ensure that federal policymakers understand, and focus on, the importance of certain bands of spectrum, such as the 1755-1780 band, for delivering on the promise of robust mobile broadband. A thorough analysis of government spectrum use is key to ensuring that we succeed with the president's and the FCC's goal of bringing 500 MHz of spectrum, sufficient for mobile broadband, to market."

The FCC released a white paper in October that said the value of the spectrum it plans to unleash between now and 2014 could be worth up to $120 billion. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at the time that one key provision of the agency's plans--incentive auctions in which broadcasters voluntarily give up their spectrum in exchange for a share of the proceeds--is progressing. However, he did not say how many broadcasters have agreed to participate in the plan. The national broadband plan calls for getting 120 MHz of spectrum from TV broadcasters, a group that has been largely cool to the FCC's proposals.

For more:
- see this AP article
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this PC Magazine article

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