Presidential Council Releases Report Advocating Federal Spectrum Sharing (7/23/12)
President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report suggesting federal spectrum sharing is the most cost effective way to meet the needs for additional mobile services spectrum. The report, “Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth,” says clearing and reallocating federal spectrum isn’t a feasible option.
The report calls for a new spectrum architecture and a corresponding shift in the future architecture of radio systems to multiply the capacity of spectrum by a factor of 1,000. Sharing and managing the spectrum so it isn’t fragmented are the best strategies, the report said.
The authors said the Secretary of Commerce should immediately identify 1,000 megahertz of federal spectrum to implement the new architecture and create the first shared-use spectrum.
“Although complete accomplishment of this transformation, in all federal spectrum will take time — perhaps two to three decades — we stress that implementing our recommendations will lead to rapid results,” the report said. “The long-term direction outlined in this report can start to be operational in one to three years.”
The report follows a June 2010 presidential directive for the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to collaborate with the FCC to find 500 megahertz of spectrum held by federal and nonfederal users that could be repurposed for wireless broadband Internet service within 10 years. The amount is about double the spectrum currently available and would include sharing of spectrum between federal and nonfederal users.
“We have already identified over 200 megahertz of federal spectrum that could be freed up, agencies plan a preliminary report on another 195 megahertz later this year, and the president proposed and signed into law legislation that allows the FCC to use incentive auctions to free up substantially more prime spectrum,” said a White House blog by Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council, and John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and co-chair of PCAST.
Spectrum sharing can take a number of forms, the blog said. For example, while a government communications or radar system may depend on spectrum being available in certain places at specific times, that spectrum can be freed for commercial purposes at other times and places while respecting the paramount needs of the federal system. The FCC has already begun allowing wireless broadband services to be provided over unused broadcast TV channels. The PCAST report also identifies more advanced, dynamic forms of spectrum sharing, and new system architectures that are emerging.
Spectrum sharing brings challenges of its own, requiring careful coordination between users to avoid harmful interference. In some cases, the simpler approach may be for federal agencies to relocate their systems entirely out of their existing spectrum bands into alternative bands, the blog said.
The full report is available here.
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