To help relieve wireless network congestion, the Obama Administration made a commitment to release up to 500 MHz of spectrum for reuse in commercial wireless solutions. In April 2011, the NTIA updated the progress toward this commitment in its first interim report. This 500 MHz of spectrum—comprising 280 MHz of underused commercial spectrum and 220 MHz of federally owned radio spectrum now administered by the NTIA—would help ease the growing shortage of spectrum as demands on the wireless network rise. This demand is primarily fueled by the explosive adoption rate of smartphones and other mobile broadband devices and the corresponding infrastructure—both access and mobile backhaul—required to support their use.
The timescales and conditions for the availability of this spectrum is in the hands of the FCC and is expected to take about five years as the first part of its 10 year plan. However, the first four blocks of spectrum have recently been identified for release by the NTIA at 1675-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, 3500-3650 MHz, 4200-4220 MHz and 4380-4400 MHz.
It is estimated that an auction of 500 MHz of spectrum could raise more than $20 billion for the U.S Treasury.
Many wireless technology industry commentators expect the lower bands to be taken up for wireless access. But the higher three bands could be allocated for mobile backhaul use to begin the process of easing congestion in the current 6GHz bands.
The microwave backhaul industry welcomes this first step. We look forward to follow through on further spectrum releases—especially in the 4 to 8GHz range—which is suitable for high-capacity trunking backhaul.
- US: LightSquared 4G would have “severe operational impact” on GPS (arstechnica.com)
- Ofcom gives mobile phone operators right to trade radio spectrum rights (telegraph.co.uk)
- Radio society responds to radio selloff (go.theregister.com)
- TDD or FDD Wireless: That is the Question! (aviatnetworks.com)
- Refarming UHF Spectrum: Wireless Opportunities & Challenges for 4G (aviatnetworks.com)