Officials for the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies yesterday were notified officially of their obligation to clear spectrum, so the FCC can auction the airwaves to commercial users.

The notification from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) included a letter from Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Gallagher requesting that each affected agency submit relocation cost estimates and a timeline to the NTIA by Sept. 15, 2005. Under the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act signed into law last month, the FCC must notify NTIA at least 18 months before beginning an auction of airwaves transferred from the federal government. Under the new law, federal agencies will be reimbursed for their relocation costs.

The FCC has announced its intention to auction spectrum in the 1710-1755 band--currently occupied by federal government users, including the military--as early as June 2006.

“I commend the FCC for its prompt response in setting forth an 18-month time frame leading to auctions as early as June, 2006,” Gallagher said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with the Commission and with the other departments and agencies--in particular the dedicated spectrum team at the Department of Defense--to facilitate efficient auctions and the timely relocation of incumbents.”