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NTIA Identifies Spectrum For Commercial Broadband

Two spectrum bands totaling 115 MHz that would count toward the president's 500 MHz goal have been named by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Continuing its drive to find 500 MHz of spectrum to ease the growing shortage, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced that it has identified two spectrum bands totaling 115 MHz as candidates to be made available for public and commercial use.

The 115 MHz includes 100 MHz of federal radar bands in regions of the U.S. that are beyond the reach of radar currently used by the federal government, including Defense Department agencies. Another 15 MHz can be made available by consolidating spectrum bands currently used for meteorological observation systems.

“We have identified the first steps for unlocking a significant amount of the spectrum needed to reach the president’s 10-year goal,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, referring to President Obama’s June announcement to seek the 500 MHz of spectrum. “In implementing this initiative, the Obama administration is seeking to catalyze innovation and private sector investment.”

The drive to find more spectrum is in response to the fear that smartphones and other devices will hog much of the spectrum. Already, wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless have begun to move toward metering usage by their subscribers. The FCC has also suggested that the freeing up of the “white spaces” of spectrum that exist around the 700-MHz bands would also help relieve spectrum congestion.

“NTIA will continue to work with the FCC and other U.S. agencies to make the full 500 MHz of spectrum available while protecting vital government uses,” said NTIA administrator Lawrence E. Strickling, who is also assistant secretary for communications and information. The Commerce Department also noted that commercial interests, like carriers and other companies using spectrum, can share in proceeds from spectrum auctions when they agree to give up some or all of their bands.

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