Some 95 megahertz of prime spectrum could be repurposed for wireless broadband use, says the U.S. Department of Commerce via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), thus making “significant progress towards achieving President Obama’s goal to nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum available this decade. The President’s initiative will spur investment, economic growth, and job creation while supporting the growing demand by consumers and businesses for wireless broadband services.”

Repurposing this new block, combined with NTIA’s prior recommendation to reallocate 115 megahertz of spectrum, would bring federal agencies’ contribution to 40 percent of the Administration’s goal.

NTIA, working with other federal agencies, evaluated the 1755 MHz–1850 MHz band to see if it could be used for commercial wireless broadband service. There is one hitch: More than 20 federal agencies currently hold more than 3,100 individual frequency assignments in this band, including law enforcement surveillance, military tactical communications, air combat training and precision-guided munitions.??

While NTIA’s analysis shows it is possible to repurpose the entire 95 megahertz, it won’t be without problems. To mitigate some of them, NTIA proposes “a new path forward” it says relies on a combination of relocating federal users and sharing spectrum between federal agencies and commercial users.

To do this, NTIA proposes convening discussions between industry and the relevant federal agencies under the auspices of the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee, with the goal of finding ways to work together through sharing or other means to reduce the time and expense of repurposing the band in question while maintaining essential federal capabilities and maximizing commercial utilization.

Notes Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling, “Spectrum is a finite resource in growing demand, and we need to focus on new ways to maximize its use. By working with the Federal Communications Commission, other federal agencies, and the industry, we can make more spectrum available to fuel innovation and preserve America’s technological leadership while protecting vital government missions.”

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