CTIA Calls on President to Light Fire Under Government Spectrum Reclamation
Says no amount of efficiency will solve crunch
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/14/2012 5:03:26 PM
In a letter to President Barack Obama Monday, the heads of CTIA: The Wireless Association, the High Tech Spectrum Coalition, the Information Technology Information Council and the Telecommunications Industry Association said that while getting up to 125 MHz of spectrum from broadcasters was a start, it would not be freed up for some time, and more needed to be done.
"What is needed is a commitment that identifies definitive bands and a specific implementable plan of action to provide regulatory certainty for investment," they said.
The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has identified a potential 210 MHz worth of government spectrum, but does not yet have a plan of attack for freeing it up.
It also involves sharing and possibly moving commercial users off some spectrum to make new homes for the government users, so that path, or the timetable to travel it, is not exactly clear. NTIA has said it could prioritize clearing a swath of spectrum that could be fairly quickly paired with some commercial spectrum the FCC has teed up for auction.
Back in June 2010, the president directed NTIA and the FCC to come up with 500 MHz of spectrum within 10 years. NTIA oversees government spectrum users much as the FCC does commercial ones.
NTIA came up with a 10-year plan for freeing up spectrum; the report outlines the 1755-1850 spectrum that it has concluded can be reclaimed and re-auctioned for wireless, just as the FCC is trying to do with 80-120 MHz of broadcast spectrum, depending on how much it can convince broadcasters to give up.
But CTIA and the others are looking at what they have repeatedly called a looming crisis and are looking for some short-term action as well as long-view planning. They also point out that only about a quarter, or 125 MHz, of the 500 MHz the president is looking to free up would be coming from broadcasters, in the best case scenario. That is likely to be a lot less than that due to protections for Canadian and Mexican border spectrum written into spectrum auction legislation.
"While industry is continuing to develop and deploy increasingly efficient spectrum technologies," they say, "the fact remains there is a spectrum crunch that no amount of efficiencies will satisfy. If policymakers do not act in the short-term to clear additional spectrum for licensed mobile broadband use, our country's networks will become increasingly strained, and the U.S. hold on mobile broadband leadership will start to wane."
"What is needed is a commitment that identifies definitive bands and a specific implementable plan of action to provide regulatory certainty for investment," they argue. "We urge policymakers to make progress on both fronts this year."
The FCC has said it will come out with its first Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on an incentive auction framework this fall, but the spectrum will likely not be in the hands of new users for at least a couple of years.
"NTIA and the other Federal agencies continue to make progress in implementing President Obama's ambitious spectrum agenda, including the goal of nearly doubling the amount of commercial spectrum this decade," said an NTIA spokesperson in response to the letter. "We welcome the recent announcements from stakeholders in the wireless industry that signal a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead when it comes to putting our limited spectrum resources to their most productive use for the benefit of American businesses, consumers, and the economy."
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