NTIA Identifies More GI Spectrum for Possible 5G

The White House's top communications advisory arm has identified 100 MHz of government spectrum that potentially could be freed up for commercial 5G wireless use.

Cable and telco ISPs are eyeing wireless broadband plays given that's where the bulk of access is predicted to be coming from in the future.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has identified that 100 MHz on the 3450-3550 MHz band currently used by military radar systems. DOD will be studying the band to determine the potential for commercial use without interfering with its operations.

The FCC has already approved spectrum in the adjacent 3550-3700 band for a Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

"The decision to study the 3450-3550 MHz band is part of an ongoing effort across the U.S. government to support deployment of wireless broadband and foster American leadership in 5G," blogged NTIA chief David Redl. "Collectively, NTIA, the FCC and the federal agencies are making great strides across low-, mid- and high-frequency spectrum, including innovative sharing approaches in the AWS-3 and the CBRS bands."

FCC chair Ajit Pai, who has made freeing up spectrum for 5G one of his priorities, signaled he was pleased.

“NTIA’s announcement that it will examine whether the 3450-3550 MHz spectrum band can be used for commercial next-generation wireless services is great news," Pai said in a statement. "The commission, working together with NTIA, has already made the 3.5-GHz band available for wireless services and we recently initiated a process to consider whether all or parts of the adjacent satellite spectrum can also be made available. Altogether, this could unleash a contiguous block of hundreds of megahertz of valuable spectrum for new technologies and services, including 5G."

The principal wireless operator trade association was all for it as well. “The United States is moving swiftly to make spectrum available so that the private sector can develop the applications and services that consumers and businesses demand," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker. "We are fully committed to collaborating with NTIA to ensure that the U.S. continues to lead the world in advanced wireless technologies as we chart the course to our 5G future.

“CTIA commends administrator Redl for moving swiftly to identify key government spectrum that could be repurposed to help the United States win the global race to 5G," she added. "We applaud DOD and the administration for seeking out win-win opportunities and pledge to work cooperatively to ensure critical national security objectives are protected while unlocking new spectrum for commercial use.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.