FCC chief calls for sharing of federal spectrum
Places recent NTIA calls to share 95MHz of government frequencies at the center of his agenda to boost wireless capacity
Published: 24 May, 2012
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has repeated his intentions of pushing government agencies to share their generous spectrum holdings with carriers to address the US's looming mobile capacity shortage.
"We have to do things like look harder and more carefully at government spectrum," said the executive, including "innovative ways" to share these frequencies. He told the Cable Show in Boston that the administration must investigate ways to relicense its own spectrum for commercial use.
He repeated a three-pronged strategy originally outlined at the recent CTIA conference. This centers on "core opportunities" (making the most of existing spectrum and tools); "emerging opportunities" or new tools; and "charting the new frontier" of wireless innovation by looking for brand new frequencies and spectral efficiency technologies.
One of these new frontiers is the reuse of federal spectrum, as recommended in a recent report from government technology agency the NTIA. That body identified 95MHz of
of spectrum, currently in government hands, in the 1755MHz-1850MHz band, which could be repurposed for commercial use and shared with carriers. He said spectrum in the 1755MHz-1780MHz band could be paired with 2155MHz-2180MHz frequencies to extend the AWS band by an additional 50MHz.
T-Mobile USA has already filed an experimental application with the FCC to test the sharing concept.
Genachowski also pointed to a recent national Wi-Fi initiative by five cablecos as an example of the innovation he is seeking to boost capacity and availability of wireless services, and to support new business models. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks are to create a nationwide Wi-Fi roaming network for their subscribers, embracing over 50,000 hotspots. "Cable has been leading the way in innovating around Wi-Fi," Genachowski said.
However, the FCC chair tried to put a positive spin on the spectrum 'famine', saying it was "in the category of problems you want to have" because it had resulted from an entrepreneurial economy and high usage of bandwidth intensive applications. Foreign regulators are increasingly "envious of what they see in the US in terms of broadband innovation," he commented.