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NTIA Officials Confirm Emphasis on Federal Agencies Sharing Spectrum

This week, officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) emphasized that Federal Agencies will need to share spectrum with commercial carriers in the future.

In 2010, NTIA pledged to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make 500 MHz of spectrum available by 2020 for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use.  Accordingly, NTIA is pushing forward on a new effort that relies on a combination of relocating federal users and sharing spectrum between federal agencies and commercial users.

Back in March, I wrote about a first step where NTIA concluded that 95 MHz of prime spectrum could be repurposed for wireless broadband.  See: http://www.educause.edu/blog/gvhaledjian/DCNewsNTIASays95MHzofGovernmen/249323

On May 15, 2012, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held an event tiled, “My Kingdom for a Hertz: Can Washington Keep the Mobile Revolution Going?” where Karl Nebbia, Associate Administrator for NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management, spoke about the report released in March.  He mentioned, “The day of just relocating people is probably coming to a close.  Spectrum sharing is really a part of our future.”

Here is a link to the ITIF event page w/ audio and video of the panel discussion: http://www.itif.org/events/my-kingdom-hertz-can-washington-keep-mobile-revolution-going

On May 16, 2012, NTIA leader Larry Strickling said at a Congressional hearing that the federal government needs to develop a “new paradigm” for making such spectrum available in support of the effort to repurpose 95 MHz of federal spectrum.

Mr. Strickling clarified that he was not criticizing his own agency, but that he was emphasizing the report’s recommendation that there needs to be spectrum sharing, particularly since some incumbent federal agencies were advised that they would not have to move again from the spectrum bands in question.

With all of the uncertainties involved with both the FCC auctioning commercial spectrum and with the NTIA being able to timely relocate federal agency users, it seems like a reasonable course of action for these NTIA officials to stress the fact that spectrum sharing may be the most viable way for such prime spectrum to be released into the commercial markets.

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