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Friday, October 05, 2012
FCC To Boost Mobile Carriers' Spectrum

Speaking at university of Pennsylvania - Wharton Philadelphia, PA, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday detailed plans on Thursday to free up more wireless spectrum that carriers say they need to offer high-speed mobile services.

The agency plans to freeg up licensed and unlicensed spectrum for broadband: 300 MHz by 2015, and 500 MHz by 2020, fulfilling part of the 2010 National Broadband Plan, Genachowski said.

FCC is also on track to auction 75 MHz of licensed Advanced Wireless Service spectrum -- essential for 4G cellular service -- by 2015. This includes an auction of shared rights to the 1755-1780 MHz band, which could be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band already in inventory to extend the valuable AWS band by 50 MHz. Genachowski expects the first of these auctions -- of the AWS-2 H-block -- will happen in 2013, and the revenue generated will serve as a down-payment on funding a nationwide Public Safety Network and to reduce the deficit.

Later this year, the FCC will finish removing outdated rules and restrictions on 70 MHz of spectrum. This includes 40 megahertz of mobile satellite spectrum that Genachowski expects the Commission will repurpose for land-based mobile use, and 30 megahertz in the long-troubled Wireless Communications Service band that is now poised to be used for LTE service. The FCC is also working with stakeholders to enable use of the portions of the mobile satellite spectrum in the L- and BIG LEO bands for terrestrial service, and this would add to our megahertz total.

Recent legislation grants the FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions. Incentive auctions are an market-based tool to repurpose for mobile broadband spectrum in the broadcast television band -- the 600 MHz band, just below the 700 MHz band now being used as part of the 4G rollout. Last Friday FCC launched a proceeding to implement this idea, and FCC expects to hold the world?s first incentive auction in 2014.

In 2010 FCC created a new spectrum sharing paradigm by allowing unlicensed devices to access valuable unused spectrum in between broadcast TV channels -- known as "white spaces". FCC's action freed up the most new unlicensed spectrum in 25 years -- at least several 6 MHz channels in most of major markets and more than 100 megahertz in many parts of the U.S.

The FCC also developed an idea to use database technology to enable sharing between commercial broadband and military radar systems. In a major report this summer, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST, recommended doing this in the 3.5 GHz band, which is virtually unused on U.S. land itself. By year's end, the FCC will launch a formal proceeding to enable use of 100 MHz of spectrum in this band. This spectrum can be online for commercial use by 2015.

"So with 75 MHz from traditional auctions, 70 MHz from removing regulatory barriers, 100 MHz from dynamic sharing, and significant spectrum from incentive auctions, reallocations of government spectrum, and white spaces, we are on track to exceed the 300 MHz target by 2015," Genachowski said.

Ragarding FFC's second goal to free up 500MHz by 2020, Genachowski said that technology and business innovations are required in order to dramatically increase spectrum efficiency. As an example, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs recently set a company goal of expanding wireless network capacity by 1,000 times from today's levels through use of new technologies such as small cells. Smart antennas, MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and compression are just a few examples of the kinds of technologies that can be used to squeeze more communications capacity out of the available spectrum. Improvements in wireless receivers are also essential.

In addition, smart wireless government policies are required. The FCC, other federal agencies, states and localities, and U.S. Congress should improve inter-agency coordination, Genachowski added.

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