3G cellular wins a home with 90 MHz of room
A future home for so-called third-generation cellular (3G) wireless communications services, including high-speed Internet access, seems assured as the result of a radio spectrum assessment by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The assessment, released yesterday, earmarks 90 MHz of spectrum for transfer from federal government use (primarily military) administered by NTIA to eventual assignment by the FCC, which administers radio spectrum use by non-government entities and by state and local governments.
The move sets the FCC on a path to eventually auction the spectrum to potential 3G system operators. It boosts the spectrum available for 3G services to a level that some industry observers consider necessary for the United States to compete with 3G developments in other parts of the world.
FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell said that he was pleased that 90 MHz of spectrum would be made available for advanced wireless services in the United States.
“This spectrum should provide wireless carriers with sufficient capacity to keep pace with consumer demand for new and innovative services. In the future, as events warrant, the FCC will consider making additional spectrum available for wireless services,” he said.
The chairman thanked NTIA, the FCC staff, the Department of Defense and other agencies for working together.
“Throughout the past year, an interagency working group with staff from the FCC, NTIA, DOD, and other executive branch agencies, has been working diligently to identify spectrum for advanced wireless services. The interagency effort examined existing federal operations in spectrum already earmarked for transfer to non-federal use – specifically, the 1710-1755 MHz band. The terms of the transfer would have allowed certain federal operations – both military and non-military to continue indefinitely. Permissible, grandfathered operations at 16 military facilities would have particularly impeded the development of new nationwide services. The interagency working group developed a creative plan for relocating these operations to other bands and thus clearing the band for commercial use,” Powell said.
The specific radio spectrum to be transferred to FCC administration includes the 1710-1755 MHz band and 45 MHz from within the 2110-2170 MHz band.
NTIA is asking Congress to create a Spectrum Relocation Fund and to revise the procedures under which federal entities are paid for relocating from spectrum frequencies reallocated for auction to commercial entities. Theodore W. Kassinger, general counsel for the Department of Commerce, of which NTIA is part, sent proposed legislation to Vice President Richard B. Cheney in his role as president of the U.S. Senate and copies to congressional leaders.
Kassinger said that the NTIA proposal would provide more certainty for federal and commercial entities in the auction of reallocated federal spectrum.
Under current law, commercial entities must reimburse federal entities for the costs of relocating from reallocated spectrum, and agencies are authorized to accept these payments, but the spending of the payments must be appropriated. The NTIA proposal would not only change the mechanism for payment to the agencies from direct payments by the commercial entities to payments from a central Spectrum Relocation Fund funded by auction receipts, it would also authorize the federal entities to spend the payments without further appropriation.
To see the full NTIA spectrum assessment document, click here.
To see the NTIA’s legislative proposal to reimburse relocated federal users, click here.