AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile USA will begin testing the viability of sharing 95 MHz of spectrum that is currently used by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies.
Last year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) proposed a spectrum sharing scheme between government and industry. Specifically, the NTIA determined that 95 megahertz (MHz) of prime spectrum in the 1755 – 1850 MHz band could be repurposed for wireless broadband use. Over 20 federal agencies currently hold more than 3,100 individual frequency assignments in this band. Federal uses of this spectrum include law enforcement surveillance, military tactical communications, air combat training, precision-guided munitions, weather balloons, etc.
Sharing and simulation activities are expected in the next few months to determine how federal use of this spectrum is impacted by the introduction of commercial mobile broadband services in this band. The testing will involve low power mobile broadband uplinks (base station receivers) and four uses identified by NTIA, including air combat training systems, aeronautical mobile telemetry, satellite command and control, and small unmanned aerial vehicles.
On a blog posting, Stacey Black, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory, stated "I want to emphasize that we continue to believe that clearing and reallocating is the best approach to freeing up much needed spectrum for commercial mobile broadband use. The existing exclusive licensing regime has resulted in billions of dollars in wireless infrastructure investment, enabling the U.S. to lead the way in the global mobile broadband marketplace. While clearing spectrum for exclusive commercial licensing must remain the top priority, when that is neither time nor cost effective, AT&T supports exploring sharing arrangements."
- In June 2010, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum committing the federal government to make available 500 MHz of federal and commercial spectrum available to new mobile broadband usage over the next 10 years. The effort, which would nearly double the amount of commercial spectrum currently available for commercial use, was expected to result new rounds of spectrum auctions.