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US reveals strategy to investigate, move federal spectrum for cellular usage

U.S. President Joe Biden gives comments on cutting expenses for American families during a visit to Goffstown, New Hampshire, U.S., March 11, 2024

WASHINGTON, March 12 (mod1s) - The Biden administration on Tuesday issued a comprehensive plan for evaluating major government-owned airwaves with the objective of helping to boost cellular and other technological applications.
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which in November announced steps to repurpose spectrum currently set aside for parts of the federal government, said it was setting detailed timelines for studying several spectrum bands including "the potential for repacking, compression and relocation of airborne radars and other federal systems in the Lower 3 GHz to allow for commercial use."

The Lower 3 GHz research is planned to be completed by October 2026 as will a study on the 7/8 GHz radio region.
"We 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," the implementation plan originally published by Reuters said.

Congress in March 2023 allowed the Federal Communications Commission's ability to auction airwaves expire for the first time in three decades amid dispute over whether frequency used by the Defense Department may be repurposed or shared.
"Spectrum is a scarce national resource," said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson in an interview, stressing the objective is to secure adequate spectrum for public and private sector demands. "What we needed is a step-by-step plan for how we are going to implement that mission."

Demand for spectrum utilization is increasing, spurred in part by developments in drones, self-driving cars, lunar missions and precision agriculture. Mobile U.S. cellular data traffic surged 38% in 2022, the largest-ever rise in mobile data traffic.
On Monday, two senators presented legislation to force NTIA to identify at least 2,500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum that might be reassigned from federal government use to non-governmental or shared usage during the next 5 years.

Last month, three additional senators asked the Biden administration not to divest the Defense Department of spectrum needed for military radar systems in favor of commercial wireless.


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