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Spectrum Task Force Update

September 9th, 2010 by Julius Knapp - Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

In creating a strategy for the utilization and allocation of spectrum in Chapter 5 of the National Broadband Plan, we laid out our initial strategic spectrum plan.  We have since moved forward with the important work of the Spectrum Task Force.  As Chairman Genachowski previously announced earlier this year, the Spectrum Task Force has been launched to execute the spectrum recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, including long term spectrum planning.  Armed with our directives to advance the Commission’s spectrum agenda, as well as to promote collaboration across the agency, the work of the Spectrum Task Force is now well underway, with participation from the Chiefs and expert staff of the Bureaus and Offices, including Enforcement, International, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Media, and Strategic Planning and Policy.

As Chairman Genachowski emphasized, given that spectrum is one of our country’s most important assets, we will need to pursue policies to promote greater spectrum efficiency and flexibility, in addition to ensuring sufficient spectrum for broadband.  In order to achieve these goals, we are working closely with our colleagues at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  In particular, we are supporting NTIA’s efforts to identify spectrum that might be made available on a fast track basis and to develop a longer term plan to make spectrum available for wireless broadband over the next 10 years.

The National Broadband Plan called for the FCC to maintain an ongoing strategic spectrum plan including a triennial assessment of spectrum allocations.  The National Broadband Plan was effectively the first strategic plan and the first triennial assessment will be conducted in three years.  We are laying the foundation for this project through our work on the spectrum dashboard, which will provide greater transparency concerning spectrum allocation and utilization.  In conjunction with NTIA, we have also begun work to develop accurate spectrum measurement and monitoring methods.

The Commission is continuing to make great progress towards achieving the goal of making available an additional 300 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband by 2015, and 500 MHz by 2020.  At the May agenda meeting, the Commission adopted an order on WCS-SDARS, making 25 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband services.  At the July agenda meeting, the Commission proposed to provide additional flexibility in the rules for the Mobile Satellite Service to account for another 90 MHz of spectrum that could be used for terrestrial wireless broadband service.

Work is also continuing on other spectrum-related recommendations in the National Broadband Plan.  For example, in late June we held an engineering workshop on innovation in the TV bands.   We are also reviewing the recommendation that the Commission create new opportunities for innovative spectrum access models, including opportunistic use.

In the coming weeks, we will share updates regarding the Spectrum Task Force’s progress in implementing the National Broadband Plan’s spectrum agenda.  Please continue to follow Spectrum Task Force blog posts for new information.

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