FCC To Pursue Spectrum Sharing Policy

Commission will initiate formal steps to implement the key recommendations of PCAST report
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While some U.S. lawmakers oppose making the sharing of government broadcast spectrum as the only policy to free up frequencies held by U.S. agencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will initiate formal steps to implement the key recommendations of a White House report supporting spectrum sharing.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the commission will, by the end of the year, begin implementing the key recommendations of the report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)—which is an independent council of experts from industry and academia—that recommends spectrum sharing as the policy the government should pursue.

“The norm for spectrum use should be sharing, not exclusivity,” says the PCAST report—Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth—which was issued July 20, 2012. The report also says, “A new spectrum architecture and a corresponding shift in practices could multiply the effective capacity of the spectrum by a factor of 1,000.”

“The traditional practice of clearing and reallocating portions of the spectrum used by federal agencies is not a sustainable model for spectrum policy. PCAST finds instead that the best way to increase capacity is to leverage new technologies that enable larger blocks of spectrum to be shared. One advantage of sharing is that it does not require licensed businesses and government entities to fully clear certain wavelengths already in use, a process that can be time consuming and expensive.”

Genachowski was at Stanford University with PCAST members Eric Schmidt and Mark Gorenberg when he said the commission will implement the report’s recommendations and that the FCC will focus on freeing up spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band for “small cell use.” Freeing up spectrum in the 3.5 GHZ band will add 100 MHz to the nation’s wireless broadband networks, he says.

“This action will represent a major innovation in spectrum policy that will in turn enable innovations in wireless applications throughout the economy, including energy, healthcare, education, and other uses yet to be discovered,” Genachowski says.

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