NTIA sets up portal to coordinate sharing of 1695-1710 MHz portion of the AWS-3 band

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched a new online portal that lets carriers and federal agencies coordinate spectrum use in the 1695-1710 MHz band, one of three bands recently made available in the AWS-3 spectrum auction. The new NTIA portal fulfills an important requirement to enable sharing in the 1695-1710 MHz portion of the band.

Although many federal incumbent users will eventually relocate out of the AWS-3 bands, NTIA noted that relocation is not feasible for agencies that operate meteorological satellite Earth stations in the 1695-1710 MHz band. To make this band available for sharing, the FCC came up with rules that require carriers to successfully coordinate with federal incumbents prior to operating in certain geographic areas (or coordination zones) around these stations, which will continue to operate indefinitely. Two designated entities, in which Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has an 85 percent economic stake, won the bulk of the licenses in the 1695-1710 MHz band. 

NTIA, an arm of the Commerce Department that manages federal agencies' use of spectrum, said federal users, including the Air Force, Army, Navy, Department of the Interior and National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, relied on it to create the portal. A team of 10 NTIA developers, documentation experts and quality assurance personnel worked over a period of five months to develop the portal.

The portal itself is basically a web-based database storage software solution that manages the flow of information between commercial wireless operators deploying networks in the band and federal agencies that have meteorological satellite Earth station operations in the identified coordination zones.

The AWS-3 band consists of two separate blocks of spectrum. The first block of airwaves is the 1695-1710 MHz band, which is unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The second set of airwaves is the 1755-1780 MHz band, which is being licensed for low-power uplink operations and is paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band. The 2155-2180 MHz band is unencumbered by federal users and is being licensed for downlink operations.

The AWS-3 auction ended at the end of January after taking in a record $44.9 billion in gross winning bids. In April the FCC started granting carriers that won spectrum their licenses.

The FCC and NTIA placed a nine-month moratorium on any formal coordination to let auction money flow to the agencies and give the government time to establish coordination portals. In most cases, federal spectrum users will have to exit the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands or geographically share them with commercial users.

For more:
- see this NTIA statement
- see this TV Technology article

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