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'Very Early Questions'

NTIA Takes Next Steps on National Spectrum Strategy

NTIA is moving forward on its long-awaited national spectrum strategy, releasing a request for comments Wednesday that poses more than 60 questions on what that strategy should include. NTIA also scheduled two “listening sessions.” Comment deadlines are to come in a Federal Register notice, to be filed in NTIA-2023-0003.

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NTIA Senior Spectrum Adviser Scott Harris promised last week next steps on the strategy were imminent (see 2303100038). The Donald Trump administration vowed a strategy but was unable to deliver (see 2208150035). Harris will “spearhead” work as director-national spectrum strategy, NTIA said.

With this announcement, we will ensure that America continues to lead into the next decade,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo: “Starting today, we are seeking input on how we can make the most efficient use of this critical resource, with the goal of identifying new spectrum bands for potential repurposing that will spur competition and innovation for years to come.”

Listening sessions will be March 30 in Washington, D.C., and April 11 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, hosted by the National Science Foundation’s SpectrumX. Both sessions start at 1 p.m. EDT.

A spectrum pipeline is essential to continue our nation’s economic growth, to improve our global competitiveness, and to support critical federal services and missions,” the RFC says: “What are projected future spectrum requirements of the services or missions of concern to you in the short (less than 3 years), medium (3-6 years) and long (7-10 years) term? What are the spectrum requirements for next-generation networks and emerging technologies and standards under development (e.g., 5G Advanced, 6G, Wi-Fi 8)?”

The RFC asks for data on why the amount of spectrum available won’t be sufficient for projected needs. “We are particularly interested in any information on the utilization of existing spectrum resources (including in historically underserved or disconnected communities such as rural areas and Tribal lands) or technical specifications for minimum bandwidths for future services or capabilities,” the document says. What are the specific spectrum bands that “should be studied for potential repurposing?” it asks.

The RFC mentions spectrum sharing more than 20 times. “What are the use cases, benefits, and hindrances of each of the following spectrum access approaches: exclusive-use licensing; predefined sharing (static or predefined sharing of locations, frequency, time); and dynamic sharing (real-time or near real-time access, often with secondary use rights)?” it asks.

The RFC seeks comment on “a long-term planning process in which affected stakeholders work together openly and transparently in an ongoing manner.” The RFC asks how technology can help: “What innovations and next-generation capabilities for spectrum management models (including both licensed and unlicensed) are being explored today and are expected in the future to expand and improve spectrum access (and what are the anticipated timelines for delivery)?”

Former FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly noted during a Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy webinar Wednesday (see 2303150059) that if someone removed double spaces and other formatting, the RFC would probably be under four pages and asks “very early questions.” The document reminded O’Rielly of a notice of inquiry from the FCC. “I know that they’re further along in their thinking,” he said. Some criticize the Trump administration for not delivering a strategy “and then we see this,” he said: “I’m hopeful that it moves forward to provide more specificity at some point.” O’Rielly said the development of the strategy shouldn’t slow work on a “spectrum pipeline.”

American consumers increasingly rely on Wi-Fi to connect to the internet, including for carrying over 80% of their mobile traffic,” said WifiForward: “As consumers, manufacturers, and enterprises look to shared spectrum like [the citizens broadband radio service] to bring increased competition and deliver specialized 5G services, it’s a critical time to develop a national spectrum plan that balances those needs and ensures that all technologies can continue to advance and keep pace with growing and evolving consumer, enterprise and economic demands with access to unlicensed, shared-licensed and exclusive licensed spectrum.”

A pipeline of full power spectrum for licensed commercial use, as well as decisive action to restore FCC auction authority, is vital to U.S. economic and national security,” said CTIA President Meredith Baker.

Competitive carriers want and need access to valuable spectrum to continue to build and enhance their networks, and more spectrum made available for licensed use will ultimately benefit consumers and American competitiveness,” emailed Tim Donovan, president of the Competitive Carriers Association.