The US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has released a new proposal recommending that the government re-allocates a sizeable chunk of radio spectrum currently used for naval radar systems and weather satellites for commercial use. The proposal would see an additional 115MHz worth of spectrum freed up over a five year period. Of that figure, 100MHz would be shared with Defence Department radar systems, with a further 15MHz reclaimed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites, which are currently used to disseminate weather information.
The US wireless industry currently holds roughly 500MHz of licenced spectrum, and in June the federal government announced plans to release an additional 500MHz for wireless broadband services by 2020. Lawrence Strickling, head of the NTIA, called this week’s Commerce Department proposal a ‘significant down payment’ on achieving the government’s broader goal. A separate report released by the Commerce Department is believed to have identified a total of 2,200MHz of spectrum to be evaluated by the government for possible reallocation.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has previously suggested that it hopes to persuade TV broadcasters to give up 120MHz of their airwaves in exchange for a cut of the spectrum auction spoils. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commented: ‘The future of our mobile economy depends on spectrum, America’s invisible infrastructure. If we don’t act to update our spectrum policies for the 21st century, we’re going to face a spectrum crunch that will stifle American innovation, economic growth, and job creation’.