Federal government agencies should be able to clear 115 MHz of spectrum for commercial use in the next five years, but only 15 MHz of those airwaves are below 3 GHz, according to a National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) report released this week.

NTIA conducted the study at the request of President Barack Obama’s administration, which three months ago asked for a review of government spectrum use as part of a process to free 500 MHz of spectrum for the growing commercial wireless industry.

In its “fast-track evaluation,” NTIA identified the 1695–1710 MHz band and the 3550–3650 MHz band as spectrum that could be made available during the next five years. In addition, NTIA noted that two 20 MHz swaths in the 4 GHz band are possibilities.

U.S. commercial wireless carriers most value spectrum below 3 GHz, because those frequencies have the propagation characteristics that make deployment of wide-area networks most economical, said Scott Bergmann, assistant vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA, the trade association for commercial wireless carriers.

In particular, commercial carriers are interested in the 1755–1780 MHz spectrum that is adjacent to AWS spectrum and aligns with spectrum used in other countries, he said.

“Although there was not sufficient time to complete the analysis of the band within the timeframe of the fast-track evaluation, the 1755–1780 MHz band will continue to be a priority for analysis under this plan and timetable because it is harmonized internationally for mobile operations, wireless equipment already exists and the band provides signal characteristics advantageous to mobile operations,” the NTIA report states.

Bergmann said CTIA is looking forward to hearing the results of further spectrum-usage reviews by both the FCC and NTIA.

“We definitely appreciate that it’s a very hard, long process,” Bergmann said. “We understand that 15 MHz of spectrum is below 3 GHz is a start. We’re committed to working with them to try to make sure the U.S. wireless industry has the spectrum it needs to meet consumer demand and drive the economy.”