By Paul Barbagallo
A House Energy and Commerce Committee working group sent a letter to the
Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration
July 10 requesting more information about the spectrum currently assigned to the
“The U.S. government is the single largest spectrum user in the country,” the
working group wrote. “Finding more efficient ways for the government to use this
valuable public asset without compromising critical objectives would not only
produce dividends for government agencies, but also inject additional resources
into the private sector to spur our economy.”
Under a presidential executive order issued in June 2010, the NTIA and FCC
must make available for auction some 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband
applications by 2020.
The NTIA, which manages the government's use of spectrum, has identified 115
MHz in the 3550-3650 MHz and the 1695-1710 MHz bands.
For the FCC's part, an additional 120 MHz of spectrum being sought from
television broadcasters through “voluntary incentive auctions” would increase
the amount available for mobile devices capable of browsing the internet at high
speeds by about 22 percent, to 667 megahertz. The NTIA, however, still must free
an additional 380 MHz by 2020.
In a March 2012 report, the NTIA concluded that it is possible to reallocate
the entire 1755-1850 MHz band for either exclusive or shared use by commercial
companies, but the amount that could be made available exclusively is still
Many federal agencies use their spectrum sporadically which, according to
some, creates an opportunity for mobile network operator use during idle
Reallocating the 1755-1850 MHz band for commercial use will be a complex task
not for the NTIA and agencies throughout the federal government. Most of the
3,300 federal assignments within the band are licensed for point-to-point fixed
microwave use by the departments of Energy and Homeland Security, and the
Federal Aviation Administration. The Department of Defense also makes use of the
spectrum for military satellites, precision-guided munitions training, and
unmanned aerial vehicles.
The committee working group, in its letter, requested the exact number of
spectrum authorizations each federal user held in 2011, and the amount of
spectrum assigned to each federal user.
The working group's letter is online at http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Letters/112th/071012NTIA.pdf.