FCC Wants Comments on Spectrum Sharing Test-Bed

One area for improving spectrum efficiency is spectrum sharing -- different users and services sharing the same spectrum without interfering with each other. The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have started planning a Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed to evaluate new methods for sharing spectrum among different users and services; and they want to hear from you.

In a Public Notice (FCC 06-77) released last week the FCC asked for comments on how this Test-Bed should be implemented. June 2004 reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended that the NTIA and the FCC each identify approximately 10 MHz of spectrum that could be assigned on a shared basis for federal and non-federal use. No specific frequencies were mentioned in the Public Notice, but it was suggested that they could come from bands currently allotted either on an exclusive or shared basis.

In the past, the FCC has considered "unused" TV channels and spectrum in the 12 GHz microwave band for evaluation of its "interference temperature" method for spectrum sharing. In last week's Public Notice, the FCC invited comment on what spectrum should be used for the Test-Bed; and on what, if any, particular technologies or areas of interest the Test-Bed project should focus. Examples include cognitive radios, smart antennas, methods for measuring spectrum efficiency, ways to increase spectrum efficiency, and how technology could be used to increase spectrum efficiency.

The FCC is also seeking comment on whether the spectrum should be contiguous or non-contiguous and whether the combined 20 MHz of spectrum is the correct amount for the Test-Bed. The FCC suggested its experimental licensing rules could be used to allocate access to this spectrum, but also invited comment on other licensing methods that might offer more interference protection for Test-Bed participants.