NTIA Spectrum Move Draws a Crowd

FCC Chair, CTIA, focus on 25 MHz that could be more quickly cleared than 95 MHz NTIA was advertising as having found
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The National Telecommunications &
Information Administration's report that it has found 95 MHz of spectrum
to free up for wireless broadband drew plenty of response from industry and Washington policymakers.

"Given
the exponential increase in consumer demand for spectrum, it's time to focus on
the 1755-1780 MHz band.  This is a real and unique opportunity to free up
25 MHz of high-value spectrum in the near future," said FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski. Genachowski focused on the 25 MHZ in the lower portion of
that 95 MHz because the could potentially be freed up quickly, especially if it
were not tied to the rest of the spectrum, and would naturally pair with 25 MHZ
of advanced wireless spectrum the FCC has in inventory in an adjacent band.

According
to the NTIA report, DOD has said the lower 25 MHZ could be
fairly quickly cleared, while it could take 10 years and many billions to clear
the whole 95 MHZ, with NTIA saying Tuesday it was
not sure spectrum auctions would pay for all those moving costs.

"NTIA's report demonstrates
both the importance of making government spectrum available for commercial
mobile broadband, and the challenges to doing so," said Genachowski, who
made no mention of the 95 MHZ NTIA was advertising as
having found. "This is particularly true when considering the full
1755-1850 MHz band, where repurposing the entire band would be very expensive,
affect important federal uses and commercial broadcast services, and could take
a decade or more. Because federal law requires that revenue from auctioning
federal spectrum exceed the relocation costs, these are serious issues and
potential obstacles," he said.

"The
FCC looks forward to working closely with NTIA and all federal
partners to maximize the value of our nation's spectrum resources and to make
meaningful progress toward the President's goal of freeing up 500 MHz for
mobile broadband," the chairman said.

CTIA:
The Wireless Association agreed with Genachowski about focusing on the lower 25
MHz.

"We
will be significantly concerned if NTIA's efforts to clear the
1755-1780 portion of the band remain in limbo until relocation of all of the
operations in the entire 1755-1850 MHz band can be completed," said CTIA
president Steve Largent. Moving forward with 1755-1780 MHz, which has a natural
AWS 3 pairing identified in the recent spectrum legislation, should be of
paramount importance for NTIA and the Administration.
We look forward to working with NTIA and incumbent
government agencies to meet the President's stated spectrum goals."

An NTIA spokeswoman said that teh agency is looking at a comprehensive approach and it made sense to look at the whole 95, but that does not mean it cant' look at the lower 25 MHZ "as soon as possible. We can look at the lower 25 on a priority basis," she said.

"The
NTIA's report indicates that the federal government
is aggressively addressing the need to make more spectrum available for
wireless mobile services," said Verizon executive VP Tom Tauke. "This
is good news for consumers.

"While
the report appropriately indicates that there will be hurdles and limitations
in repurposing the 1755-1850 MHz band for commercial use, its focus on
achieving that objective is very encouraging," said Tauke. "The key
to continued innovation and growth in the wireless industry is the government's
commitment to ensuring that sufficient spectrum is available to meet the
expanding needs of consumers. Verizon looks forward to working with the NTIA and the other federal
agencies to make the maximum amount of spectrum available for mobile use as
soon as possible." 

One
way Verizon is hoping the FCC commits to sufficient spectrum is allowing it to
buy beachfront wireless spectrum from cable operators.

AT&T
had nice things to say about the NTIA move as well.

"Today,
the NTIA released its report on clearing the path to
reallocate 95 MHz of federal spectrum for commercial use," said AT&T
VP Joan Marsh. "This is an important step by the Administration. AT&T
commends NTIA and Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling for
moving aggressively and creatively toward the reallocation of a significant
amount of spectrum vitally needed by the wireless industry. We look forward to
reviewing NTIA's report in detail, and to working
cooperatively with both NTIA and the impacted
government agencies to address reallocation challenges in a manner that will
ensure that the identified spectrum bands are made available expeditiously,
while protecting vital government services that cannot be easily relocated."

Public
interest groups focused on the fact that NTIA had proposed spectrum
sharing, something they have been pushing.

"This
is a watershed moment because the government recognizes that new approaches are
needed to spectrum policy," said Public Knowledge legal director Harold
Feld. "We can no longer rely on squeezing more spectrum from Federal users
to meet our ever-expanding needs for wireless services.

"The
report's recommendation to rely on policies such as spectrum sharing and
enhanced efficiency for Federal spectrum users and the accompanying technical
innovations marks the first step toward a sustainable wireless future. We hope
this approach will be used in the future as more Federal spectrum is identified
as a resource to be shared with the public."

Free
Press Policy Director Matt Wood agreed.

"We
welcome NTIA's fresh, new approach and its commitment to
making shared use of this spectrum a reality," he said. "There is a
growing consensus that clearing this spectrum entirely and then auctioning it
off to incumbent wireless carriers would be a complex and expensive task, and
we are glad to see lawmakers, wireless industry players, technology companies
and consumer advocates all coming together to make quicker, smarter and better
use of this band by sharing it."

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