Last week saw announcements by NTIA Administrator Strickling and FCC Chairman Genachowski which turn the current broadband plan focus back towards freeing up airwaves for wireless broadband services.
The NTIA will recommend that the federal government reallocate 115 MHz of spectrum – currently used for weather satellite and military radar systems – for wireless broadband. This represents a starting point towards the goal of reallocating 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband over the next 10 years. Among the bands identified for reallocation are 1675-1710 MHz, which could be paired with the unauctioned AWS-3 band, and 3550-3650 MHz, which is adjacent to an allocation previously designated for WiMAX and other wireless broadband deployments.
The FCC plans to take up three wireless spectrum items at its November open meeting. First, the FCC will propose rules for “incentive auctions” designed to financially reward certain spectrum licensees (primarily broadcasters) for relocating or ceasing operations to make room for expanded wireless broadband networks (more on that at our sister site, the Broadcast Law Blog). Second, the FCC will propose rules expanding its experimental licensing program to make it easier for research and development efforts to field test new wireless technologies. Finally, the FCC will inquire into how new wireless communications advancements, such as sensing technologies or improved spectrum databases, could facilitate more opportunistic uses of spectrum via secondary markets and dynamic spectrum leasing arrangements.