Building on recommendations in the National Broadband Plan to make more spectrum available for mobile broadband and the July 2012 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (“PCAST Report”), the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology issued a Joint Public Notice on July 11, 2012 seeking comment on the possibility of establishing a “Model City” for demonstrating and evaluating advanced spectrum sharing technologies.

The PCAST Report outlined a new paradigm for the use and management of spectrum from the current exclusive use construct, to a new paradigm of spectrum sharing. In addition to its recommendations focused on realizing the full potential of government-held spectrum by facilitating spectrum sharing, the PCAST Report recommended the creation of an “urban test city” to “support rapid experimentation” of advanced spectrum sharing technologies. The Joint Public Notice seeks to start the process of transforming this recommendation from an idea to reality by seeking comments on ways to establish, fund, and conduct the Model City program, including next steps that NTIA and the FCC could take to develop specific approaches for effectively demonstrating and evaluating sharing technologies in real-world environments.

The Joint Notice does not lay out specific details of the “Model City” concept. It instead asks a number of questions to spark private sector ideas to help turn the concept into a more specific plan. In addition, the Joint Notice seeks comment on whether the FCC’s existing experimental licensing program should be revised for the Model City program and how the Center for Advanced Communications (established by NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to promote interdisciplinary research, development and testing of new advanced spectrum-sharing technologies) could be used to advance the Model City concept.

It is too soon to know what a “Model City” might entail but we will monitor the proceeding and keep you up to date with developments. Comments will be due 45 days after the Joint Notice is published in the Federal Register.