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NTIA Releases Interim Progress Report on Administration’s Plan to Free Up More Spectrum

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Cross-post by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

NTIA today released the Fourth Interim Progress Report on the Obama Administration’s initiative to identify and make available 500 megahertz of federal and non-federal spectrum for commercial wireless broadband use by 2020. This report also includes a plan for federal agencies to conduct quantitative assessments of their actual spectrum usage in 960 megahertz of additional spectrum, as directed in President Obama’s June 2013 Memorandum.

America’s future competitiveness and global technology leadership depend on access to radio spectrum – the lifeblood of smartphones, tablets, and other data-hungry wireless devices.  That is why President Obama’s June 2010 Memorandum set a bold goal of nearly doubling the amount of spectrum available for commercial use by the end of this decade. Between October 2010 and September 2013, NTIA formally recommended or otherwise identified for potential reallocation up to 405 megahertz of spectrum.

On June 14, 2013, President Obama issued a second memorandum that builds on the Administration’s commitment to make additional spectrum available for wireless use.  The memorandum established a set of measures that federal agencies, in collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, will take to more aggressively enhance spectrum efficiency and enable access to more spectrum for consumer services and applications. Under the memorandum,  federal agencies  will be making quantitative assessments of their actual spectrum usage in certain bands that could potentially be made available for sharing with, or release to, commercial users, according to the plan set forth in this report.Today’s report outlines the progress made, in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) and other federal agencies, from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. The key accomplishments last fiscal year include the following:

  • NTIA’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee concluded its groundbreaking work to explore relocation alternatives and spectrum sharing arrangements between federal agencies and commercial mobile broadband systems in the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1850 MHz bands.
  • NTIA released regulations and guidance implementing changes to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA) that provide eligible federal agencies incentives and financial assistance to facilitate the transition of the reallocated federal bands that the FCC will auction.
  • NTIA published an initial assessment on spectrum-sharing technologies and the risk to federal users if Unlicensed-National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices were authorized to operate in the 5350-5470 MHz and 5850-5925 MHz bands (5 GHz).
  • NTIA, in collaboration with other federal agencies, developed the plan for federal agencies to provide quantitative assessments of their usage of spectrum in selected frequency bands.
  • The FCC initiated or concluded rulemaking proceedings for the following spectrum bands and services:
    • 40 megahertz from the 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz bands for Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-4); 
    • 10 megahertz from the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz bands (H Block); 
    • 70 megahertz from the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands for flexible Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-3); 
    • 100 megahertz from the 3550-3650 MHz band (3.5 GHz) for introducing small cell and other technologies on a shared basis with incumbent users; and 
    • 295 megahertz from 5150-5250, 5350-5470 MHz, and 5850-5925 MHz in the 5 GHz band for U-NII devices. 

Looking forward, NTIA and the FCC, along with federal and non-federal stakeholders, will continue to address the increasing radio spectrum needs of both federal and non-federal users.  NTIA will continue to engage federal and industry stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition of the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz AWS-3 bands.  In cooperation with these stakeholders, NTIA and the FCC will also be developing sharing options to accommodate new and innovative broadband applications and devices in the 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

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