National Telecommunications & Information Administration
chief Larry Strickling says that some government users are going to have to
remain in the 95 MHz of spectrum NTIA has identified for use by commercial
"We just don't have places to move the federal agencies
to any longer," he said, citing the increasing government demands for
spectrum as the reason for emphasizing spectrum sharing.
He pointed out that federal use is intermittent and sometimes
does not involve the entire country. Strickling was being interviewed for
C-SPAN's Communicators series.
Strickling said that given the opportunity to put 95 MHz of
spectrum on the table, it would not have met the administration's goal of trying
to free up 500 MHz had it just focused on the lower 25 MHz. The wireless
industry and the FCC would probably have preferred it start with that 25 MHz
since it is adjacent to a block of available FCC-overseen spectrum it could
have been paired with and gotten to market relatively quickly.
Strickling said going the 25 MHz route would have been an
"irresponsible way to proceed" with federal agencies talking about
being willing to accommodate commercial users in all 95 MHz and a goal of 500
MHz. Strickling is predicting that spectrum freed up under the NTIA
proposal would be available within five years.
But while some of the government users would stay in the 95
MHz, others wouldn't, according to the NTIA plan.
Strickling did not address the suggestion in its spectrum
report that one DOD users would have to be relocated, with the proposal being
to move electronic news gatherers out of their spectrum, spectrum they were
only recently moved to due to the DTV transition.
Strickling had no comment on what the ultimate outcome for
LightSquared would be, the proposed wholesale wireless broadband network, whose
FCC waiver to launch the service is in the process of being rescinded after GPS
interference testing and an NTIA recommendation that there was no clear
path going forward. He pointed out that NTIA had suggested one fix, but also
conceded that involved lowering power levels to a degree that LightSquared said
would not have produced a viable service.
Strickling said that NTIA would look at receiver standards
for future federal agency purchases, though added that w a 5 to 15-year effort
and only deals with government users, so would provide no relief for the
company, which has said it could lose billions in an investment predicated on
the FCC waiver.
The main issue with LightSquared was that it interfered with
sensitive GPS receivers detecting out-of-band transmissions due to increased
power levels for a terrestrial service. The waiver was to allow LightSquared's
satellite spectrum to be used for terrestrial service.
Asked whether LightSquared's experience could put a damper
on spectrum innovation and efficiency, Strickling said it was a unique set of
circumstances, including putting a high-powered, land-based service trying to
operate adjacent to a satellite band relying on much fainter signals.
Strickling would not comment on whether the government
misled LightSquared about its prospects, saying it was a question for the FCC.