NTIA Identifies 2,200 MHz of Broadband Candidate Spectrum

WASHINGTON: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Monday released reports identifying 2,200 MHz of candidate spectrum for the National Broadband Plan. The agency, which manages the spectrum alongside the Federal Communications Commission, issued separate reports outlining a five- and 10-year plan to carve out bandwidth for wireless broadband.

The five-year plan identifies 115 MHz of spectrum that can be freed within that timeframe. The Ten-Year Plan and Timetable identifies 2,200 MHz--nearly four-and-a-half times the 500 MHz requested by the Obama Administration.

Of the 2,200 MHz, the NTIA said 28 percent, or 616 MHz, “is allocated exclusively for federal use at present.” Another 35 percent, or 770 MHz, “is allocated exclusively for commercial use,” and 37 percent or 814 MHz “is shared by federal and commercial users.”

The NTIA’s total includes 280 MHz of commercial spectrum targeted by FCC for mobile broadband use within five years. Of that amount, 120 MHz is assigned for broadcast TV transmission--roughly 40 percent of the total TV allocation.

The FCC is expected to unveil its plan to move broadcasters onto the remaining spectrum at its regular meeting Nov. 30. The NTIA 10-year plan targets mid-2013 for the transition.

The five-year plan in the Fast Track Evaluation includes portions of four spectrum bands in the 2, 3 and 4 GHz frequencies.

“Specifically, NTIA recommends reallocating 1,695-1,710 MHz, currently used for dissemination of severe weather information and alerts via satellites operated by Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and 3,550-3,650 MHz, which would be shared with Department of Defense radar systems mainly on ships,” the agency said.

The two targeted 4 GHz band segments--both 20 MHz wide--are used worldwide for aircraft radio altimeters. The NTIA proposes to further review the use of all 40 MHz for this purpose, though global regulations would tie it up until 2016.

“While we are committed to spurring innovation, we will not sacrifice public safety,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “In order for NOAA and other federal users to free up additional spectrum and continue their critical operations, they will need timely funding to adjust their operations.”

The NTIA’s 10-year plan calls for evaluating the feasibility of reassigning the various candidate spectrum bands for wireless broadband. The current list also includes the 700 MHz D Block that the FCC failed to auction off in 2008. Other bands now allocated for Advanced Wireless Services, Wireless Communications Services and Mobile Satellite Services are also among the candidates. -- Deborah D. McAdams