Skip to main content

T-Mobile: Broadcast Spectrum Will Be Insufficient

According to written testimony for a Sept. 13 House hearing
on government spectrum use, T-Mobile will tell the House Communications
Subcommittee the FCC incentive auctions for reclaimed broadcast spectrum
combined with earlier fixed microwave spectrum freed up for mobile still
"are simply not enough" to meet demand, even combined with what they
say are their ongoing efforts to use the spectrum they have more efficiently.

The company also says that for the most part, freed-up
government spectrum should be turned over to commercial users on an exclusive,
or near-exclusive, basis, rather than shared. ANational Telecommunications and Information Administration report
identifying 95 MHz of government spectrum for possible reclamation said sharing
needed to be part of the solution to the spectrum crunch.

Steve Sharkey, director of engineering and tech policy, for
T-Mobile, made those points in saying that while government spectrum should be
used as efficiently as possible, some should be freed up for commercial users
like T-Mobile.

Sharkey put in a pitch for the government clearing the
1755-1780 MHz band -- currently used by the Department of Defense and others --
and pairing it with adjacent spectrum the FCC already has teed up for auction.
He said auctioned together, the spectrum could go for $12 billion.

FCCChairman Julius Genachowski also favors freeing up and pairing that governmentspectrum ASAP rather than waiting for the entire 95 MHZ of government
Spectrum NTIA identified to be shared or cleared at an estimated cost of $18
billion over a decade.

Starkey suggests that the difficulties of clearing the band
outlined in the NTIA report on freeing up government spectrum may have
overstated the challenge and understated the feasibility. for example, he says,
"in relocating Federal users from the AWS-1 band, we found that
fundamental misunderstandings of how our respective systems operate led to
unnecessarily pessimistic predictions of potential."

In August, the FCC and NTIA approved T-Mobile's request to
test mobile wireless in the 1755-1780 spectrum. As part of that, he said,
T-Mobile is working with DOD and carriers "to monitor operation of and
gather accurate information about several of the systems identified in NTIA's
2012 report that appear to be the most difficult, costly or time consuming to

Back in June 2010, the president directed NTIA and the FCC
to come up with 500 MHz of spectrum within 10 years. NTIA oversees government
spectrum users much as the FCC does commercial ones.

NTIA came up with a 10-year plan for freeing up spectrum and
the report identifying the 1755-1850 spectrum that it concluded could be
reclaimed and re-auctioned for wireless, just as the FCC is doing with 80-120
MHz of broadcast spectrum in its incentive auctions.