July 23, 2002
Clyde Ensslin or
Ranjit de Silva, 202-482-7002
Bush Administration Forges Landmark Plan for Spectrum Allocation
Spectrum Made Available for Advanced Wireless Services
The U.S. Department of Commerce, in a plan released today, has concluded that 90 MHz of radio spectrum can be made available in the future for advanced wireless (third generation or "3G") telecommunications services to meet the anticipated demand for new wireless services.
"By making additional spectrum available to consumers, the Bush Administration is moving forward decisively on its commitment to promote the technology needs of all Americans and to ensure the nation's economic prosperity," Commerce Secretary Don Evans said in releasing the plan. "This plan promotes our country's economic growth while protecting national security and public safety," Evans said.
Today's findings represent a milestone in the Bush Administration's efforts to develop a sound spectrum management policy that will result in lasting benefits to American consumers. One of the challenges in developing the plan was allocating some of the spectrum currently used by the U.S. Department of Defense without jeopardizing its critical mission of national security.
Additional radio spectrum is needed to accommodate the increasing demand for advanced wireless services in the U.S. Wireless minutes are growing by 75 percent every year, and tens of millions of new cell phone users are expected to enter the market in the next several years. Spectrum is key to improving the quality of voice and data services; to enhancing the delivery of health services, (e.g., through wireless insulin monitors); and to increasing productivity through applications such as wireless credit processing and inventory management.
The plan, known as the "3G Viability Assessment," builds upon earlier Bush Administration initiatives, including the Spectrum Summit in April, hosted by the Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the authorization in February of ultrawideband (UWB), a promising new technology that could spur the development of innovative new devices that efficiently use the radio frequency spectrum.
Evans also directed NTIA to continue working closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make more spectrum available by the end of the decade to meet the wireless voice and data communications needs of American consumers beyond 2010. In addition, Evans instructed NTIA to continue its efforts to identify more unlicensed spectrum for broadband and other innovative high-technology purposes.
The Viability Assessment is the result of research and analysis conducted by NTIA, the FCC, the Defense Department, and other Executive Branch agencies, which focused on whether the 1710-1770 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz bands could be reallocated for third generation (3G) services.
NTIA said the 90 MHz available for 3G services would be made up of 45 MHz from the 1710-1755 MHz band now used exclusively by federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense, and 45 MHz from the 2110-2170 MHz band occupied by non-government users. The 1755-1770 MHz band, also part of the assessment, was concluded not to be a viable home for 3G due to difficulties in sharing with or relocating the incumbent defense systems.
Availability of the identified spectrum bands will be accomplished after the bands are substantially cleared of existing users. The Defense Department will relocate certain parts of its systems to other bands no later than December 2008. The cost of relocation by the federal government users will be paid by the private sector entities receiving the reallocated spectrum.