Friday, July 20, 2012

An Innovative Proposal to Share 1000 MHz of Spectrum

From Jon Brodkin – Bold plan: opening 1,000 MHz of federal spectrum to WiFi-style sharing:

An advisory council to President Obama today said the US should identify 1,000 MHz of government-controlled spectrum and share it with private industry to meet the country’s growing need for wireless broadband.

The report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) says the "traditional practice of clearing and reallocating portions of the spectrum used by Federal agencies is not a sustainable model." Instead, spectrum should be shared. For example, the government might need a chunk of spectrum for communications and radar systems in certain places and certain times—but "that spectrum can be freed up for commercial purposes at other times and places while respecting the paramount needs of the Federal system."

If put into place, the plan would represent a major change in how the US government uses and distributes spectrum, one that will help power our future filled with 4G phones and tablets. Spectrum sharing is a concept already embraced by TV white spaces technology, which is sometimes called "Super WiFi" and uses empty TV channels instead of traditional WiFi frequencies. The PCAST recommendation is that sharing shouldn’t be the exception—it should be the norm.


PCAST said it has already identified more than 200MHz of federal spectrum that can be freed for sharing. Another 195MHz will be identified in a report coming later this year, and the Federal Communications Commission will use incentive auctions "to free up substantially more prime spectrum," the council noted.

PCAST recommended allowing "general authorized access" devices to operate in the 3550-3650 MHz band (used for radar). It also identified the following list of bands as being potentially suitable for shared use:


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