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Biden Admin Launches Strategy to Analyze and Reallocate Spectrum for Enhanced Wireless Services

The Biden administration announced a plan to study government-owned spectrum for potential commercial technology use expansion, aiming to balance federal missions with private sector needs.

NTIA’s Detailed Timelines

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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) set precise timelines for examining spectrum bands, including the Lower 3 GHz, with completion expected by October 2026.

Study Focus: Lower 3 GHz and 7/8 GHz Bands

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According to a NTIA press release, studies will consider “the potential for repacking, compression, and relocation of airborne radars and other federal systems in the Lower 3 GHz to allow for commercial use” alongside a parallel study on the 7/8 GHz spectrum band.

Balancing Public and Private Spectrum Needs

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According to the implementation plan, the NTIA “must provide the spectrum access needed for federal agency missions while addressing the private sector’s need for greater spectrum access, which is required to maintain and improve our global competitiveness and sustain economic growth.”

FCC’s Auction Authority Lapse

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In March 2023, Congress allowed the FCC’s spectrum auction authority to lapse amid debates over repurposing or sharing the spectrum used by the Defense Department.

Spectrum as a Scarce Resource

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“Spectrum is a scarce national resource,” NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson emphasizes, highlighting the importance of a balanced approach to fulfilling both public and private sector spectrum requirements.

Soaring Demand for Spectrum

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Advancements in drones, self-driving vehicles, moon missions, and precision agriculture are driving a significant increase in spectrum demand, with U.S. mobile wireless data traffic rising 38% in 2022.

Legislative Proposals for Spectrum Reallocation

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Legislators have introduced a bill mandating NTIA to earmark a minimum of 2,500 MHz of mid-band frequency for transition from federal to either private or cooperative use over the forthcoming five years.

Protecting Military Radar Systems

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Furthermore, senators urge the Biden administration to consider the importance of spectrum used for military radar systems, cautioning against reallocating these resources solely for commercial wireless expansion.

Navigating Spectrum Challenges

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The Biden administration’s efforts to study and potentially repurpose the spectrum highlight the complex challenge of accommodating expanding technological needs while preserving critical federal capabilities.

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