A new plan for US wireless

Several US agencies have developed a new plan for the assessment of spectrum for advanced wireless services such as 3G.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other Executive Branch agencies have developed a new plan for the assessment of spectrum for advanced wireless services.

This was a result of Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell’s mutual agreement that the timeframe for a final decision on allocation of spectrum for commercial advanced wireless services, including 3G services, should be extended to ensure that this decision for additional spectrum for advanced wireless services is the best one possible.

In addition, the Secretary directed the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to work with the FCC, and in coordination with other appropriate Executive Branch entities, to develop a new plan for the assessment of spectrum for advanced wireless services in the United States.

The NTIA, Department of Defense (DoD), other Executive Branch entities, and FCC staff have begun work on an interagency assessment of certain options and timelines for making additional spectrum available for commercial advanced wireless services, while ensuring incumbents can meet their current and future radio spectrum needs without reduction in the capabilities these services provide.

Upon completion of the viability assessment, NTIA will coordinate with other Executive Branch agencies. The Executive Branch, through NTIA, will work with the FCC to reach solutions that best serve the public interest by balancing commercial and economic goals with national security and public safety interests.

Specifically, the current assessment examines the potential use of the 1710-1770 and 2110-2170 MHz bands for commercial advanced wireless services. The 1770 to 1850 MHz band is not part of this assessment. The assessment will address possible sharing between incumbents and new 3G users.

The assessment will also attempt to identify alternate, replacement spectrum bands for displaced Federal and private sector systems. If additional spectrum is needed to relocate incumbents from the 1710-1770 MHz band, the assessment will also include identifying relocation spectrum in accordance with the National Defense Authorisation Act of 2000, along with the timeframe for moving the displaced incumbents into those bands.

In addition, the Federal government incumbents in the 1710-1770 MHz band will be assessing their future spectrum needs in light of new national security demands.

The FCC will assess the 2110-2170 MHz band. The FCC will also continue to focus, through the rulemaking process, on other potential means of addressing advanced wireless spectrum requirements. These include: evolution of existing wireless services (e.g., cellular, personal communications service (PCS), special mobile radios (SMR)) to 3G; possible reallocation of some spectrum from the mobile satellite service and other wireless services; reallocation of some TV broadcast spectrum; and allowing licensees in the 2500-2690 MHz band to provide mobile services, consistent with its recent allocation order.

As part of this process, the FCC will continue to assess and quantify the requirements for 3G in light of new technological developments, economic factors, global conditions, and other public interest considerations.

The Federal government plans to complete the assessment by late Spring 2002. Once the above assessment is completed, NTIA will coordinate with other Executive Branch Agencies. The Executive Branch, through NTIA, will coordinate with the FCC to reach solutions for allocating spectrum for commercial advanced wireless services, including 3G, completing service rules, and conducting auctions as necessary.

Although the current auction deadline for the 1710-1755 and 2110-2150 MHz bands is September 30, 2002, the Administration has proposed legislation to postpone this deadline until September 30, 2004.

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