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Is There Enough Spectrum?

October 6th, 2009 by Charles Mathias - Assistant Bureau Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Charles Mathias BBLast week, the FCC released a Public Notice (PN) asking for comment about whether there is sufficient spectrum available for wireless services.  Specifically, we asked for focused comment on the current spectrum allocations available in spectrum bands and whether that amount of spectrum is sufficient for our broadband needs.

The questions we ask in the PN arose as a result of the information we have already received in response to the National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry and the discussions at the workshops we have already held.  Multiple commenters have raised the issue that the United States will not have sufficient spectrum available to meet demands for wireless broadband in the near future.  Because of these comments, we're asking for your view on the fundamental question of whether current spectrum allocations are adequate to support near- and longer-term demands of wireless broadband.  The PN requests that commenters provide detailed, fact-based responses and to the extent possible provide quantitative data and analytical justification for their arguments.

The amount of spectrum available for use for broadband devices is crucial in determining an overall national broadband plan.  With the continued rise of the use of smartphones, and the needs for spectrum associated with their use, we have to look to the future availability of spectrum and where that spectrum is located.

The questions are as follows:

  1. What is the ability of current spectrum allocations to support next-generation build-outs and the anticipated surge in demand and throughput requirements?
  2. What spectrum bands are best positioned to support mobile wireless broadband?
  3. What spectrum bands are best positioned to support fixed wireless broadband?
  4. What are the key issues in moving spectrum allocations toward their highest and best use in the public interest?
  5. What is the ability of current spectrum allocations to support both the fixed and mobile wireless backhaul market?

Some people may ask "Why is the FCC asking for information on these questions?  Don't you already have the answers?"  What we are looking for are creative, as well as practical, opinions on spectrum availability.  New technologies can drive innovation; ideas for the availability of spectrum may be found or you may have creative ideas on to use the current spectrum allocation more efficiently.

Regardless, it is important for us to hear back from all different sides in the equation.  We want your input, no matter your background or your thoughts on the subject.

The easiest way to comment is to post on this blog.  Your comments will be included in the record for the National Broadband Plan.

You can also file comments with the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System, using ECFS Express for short comments, or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file or to file in other dockets.  Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as "Comments (or Reply Comments)-NBP Public Notice # 6." See the PN for information about filing your comments in other relevant dockets.

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