By Paul Barbagallo
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is urging the
Federal Communications Commission to heed ongoing efforts by the agency to
relocate federal users to new spectrum bands before embarking on a new Wi-Fi
The FCC is set to propose rules Feb. 20 that would allow unlicensed devices
to operate in 5 gigahertz-band spectrum on a shared basis, providing any
interference issues can be resolved. It would be the first step toward freeing
up as much as 195 megahertz of spectrum for unlicensed Wi-Fi use across the
But the NTIA, in a letter sent
to the FCC Feb. 19, said some federal agencies could ultimately be moved to the
5 GHz spectrum band.
The 5150-5250 MHz band in particular may become a “destination” for federal
agencies relocated from the 1755-1850 MHz band, the NTIA said.
The 1755-1850 MHz spectrum band, which is the most coveted by the wireless
industry, is immediately adjacent to a 25 MHz block of spectrum already
allocated for mobile broadband uses and ready for a commercial auction by the
FCC--what is known as AWS-3, or Advanced Wireless Services-3. Most of the 3,300
federal assignments within 1755-1850 are licensed for point-to-point fixed
microwave use by the departments of Energy and Homeland Security, the Federal
Aviation Administration, and NASA. The Defense Department also makes use of the
spectrum for military satellites, precision-guided munitions training, and
unmanned aerial vehicles.
If they decide to move off the 1755-1850 MHz band, the DOD and NASA said the
5150-5250 MHz would be a “comparable” band to relocate their aeronautical mobile
“The bands available to federal agencies to accommodate [these] systems, if
they must be relocated, are limited,” Larry Strickling, NTIA administrator,
wrote in the letter.
Strickling said ongoing studies in the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory
Committee working groups will lead to a recommendation this summer on whether
non-federal sharing with aeronautical mobile telemetry systems is even
However, in the nearer term, Strickling said the FCC should “refrain” from
proposing any changes to the so-called “Unlicensed-National Information
Infrastructure” rules in the 5150-5250 MHz band until both agencies can finalize
how they will address the “accommodation of the aeronautical mobile telemetry
operations currently using the 1755-1850 MHz band.”
Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Pub. L. No.
112-96), the FCC has until Feb. 22 to launch a proceeding to consider making the
5 GHz-band spectrum available for commercial unlicensed use.
For the letter, visit http://op.bna.com/der.nsf/id/sbay-953svl/$File/pb0219.pdf.
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