SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

Spectrum management authority in the United States is divided between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the President. The Communications Act of 1934 (Communications Act) established the FCC and provided it the authority to assign frequencies to radio stations in the United States except for those stations belonging to the Federal Government.[EN1] Under Section 305 of the Communications Act, the President is responsible for assigning frequencies to Federal Government stations. Pursuant to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Organization Act, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information has the authority to manage frequencies assigned to Federal Government users.[EN2]

As part of its responsibility for managing the Federal Government's use of the radio spectrum, NTIA establishes policies concerning the allocation, allotment, and assignment of spectrum for Federal use based, in part, on the advice of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) and the Spectrum Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC). NTIA also provides guidance to the various Federal agencies and departments to ensure that their radiocommunications activities are consistent with these policies and to allow these agencies and departments to carry out their Congressionally mandated missions. In addition, NTIA serves as the President's principal advisor on telecommunications and information policies. NTIA's functions include providing policy and administrative support to assist in the development of the National Information Infrastructure (NII). NTIA also works with other agencies to develop Executive Branch views on communications issues and ensures that these policies are effectively presented to the FCC, the Congress, and the public.

Today, all of the radio spectrum below 300 gigahertz (GHz) is allocated for various purposes. This spectrum is a valuable but limited resource that has become vitally important to the nation's economic well-being. Commercial activities that depend on the availability of radio spectrum generate over $100 billion in annual revenues. Advances in telecommunications technologies are spurring economic growth and consumer demands towards improving the quality of life. However, given the current congested state of the spectrum, especially in some frequency bands below 5 GHz, the ability to accommodate new spectrum-dependent technologies is limited for both Federal and non-Federal users.

The Administration and the Congress addressed these issues in Title VI of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, signed into law on August 10, 1993.[EN3] One of the objectives of Title VI is communications licensing and spectrum reallocation improvement to increase the efficiency of spectrum use and the effectiveness of the spectrum management process. Another goal of Title VI is to promote and encourage the use of new spectrum-based technologies in telecommunications applications. To facilitate this goal, Title VI directed the Secretary of Commerce to transfer 200 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum below 5 GHz, currently used by Federal agencies, to the FCC for licensing to the private sector. The transferred spectrum must not be required for the present or identifiable future needs of the Federal Government and should not result in excessive costs to the Federal Government, or loss of services or benefits to the public. Title VI also authorizes the FCC to use competitive bidding (auctions) for the reassignment and licensing of spectrum for certain commercial radio-based services. The first phase of the reallocation process required by Title VI was completed on February 10, 1994, when the Department of Commerce released the Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Report (hereinafter, "Preliminary Report").[EN4]

The Preliminary Report provides an overview of Federal spectrum usage below 5 GHz, an assessment of public benefit issues associated with spectrum reallocation, and a band-by-band assessment of reallocation options. This assessment examined Federal investment cost and potential operational impact versus public benefit and impact. A Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Plan was presented in the Preliminary Report based on these assessments, in accordance with the Title VI criteria and requirements (see TABLE 1-1).

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TABLE 1-1: Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Plan
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 BAND            USAGE        REALLOCATION
 (MHZ)         STATUS [a]         DATE
---------------------------------------------------------
1390-1400       exclusive         1/99
1427-1432       exclusive         1/99
1670-1675       mixed             1/99
1710-1755       mixed             1/04
2300-2310       exclusive         1/96
2390-2400       exclusive         8/94
2402-2417       exclusive         8/94
3650-3700       mixed             1/99
4635-4660       exclusive         1/97
4660-4685       exclusive         8/94
----------------------------------------------------------
[a] Exclusive=elclusive non-Federal
    Mixed=shared Federal and non-Federal use
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Constraints that could affect Federal Government use of the bands identified for mixed use reallocation, or that are necessary to provide protection of high-valued Federal Government systems were also part of the preliminary plan and were described in the Preliminary Report. NTIA believes that such reallocation constraints will not significantly impact the development and use of the bands for non-Federal applications. An analysis of the plan and related issues vis-a-vis the specific criteria and requirements of Title VI were included in the report, which concluded that the plan meets the goals established in Title VI.

The Preliminary Plan included 50 MHz of spectrum available for immediate reallocation and 150 MHz for delayed reallocation. Federal frequency assignments within the 50 MHz designated for immediate reallocation (2390-2400, 2402-2417, and 4660-4685 MHz) were withdrawn on August 10, 1994 as required by Title VI (six months after the Preliminary Report was published).[EN5] The plan does however, provide for continued Federal use of the 50 MHz of "immediately available" spectrum on a non-interference basis with non-Federal operations as long as it remains unused as a consequence of the FCC's reallocation and assignment plan.[EN6]

In accordance with the requirements of Title VI, a 90-day period after the release of the report was provided for public comments. An additional 90-day period was established for the FCC to prepare an analysis of the public comments, together with other additional comments and recommendations.

Since the release of the Preliminary Report, NTIA received 51 written comments, conducted 2 public meetings, and met directly with 17 of the commenters to obtain further expert analysis of the technical, regulatory, and commercial issues addressed in the Preliminary Report. The FCC analysis of the public comments was submitted to the Secretary of Commerce on August 9, 1994.[EN7] The Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Plan and the FCC report were discussed at several meetings between NTIA and the FCC to provide an opportunity to further consider the public comments and views expressed at the public meetings. NTIA also reviewed comments that were submitted to the FCC Notice of Inquiry (NOI) concerning potential applications for the 50 MHz identified in the Preliminary Report for immediate reallocation.[EN8]

The report concludes the second phase of the reallocation of spectrum required by Title VI. Title VI requires that the President shall withdraw or limit assignments to Federal stations within six months after receipt of the Secretary's report and provide notice to the Congress and the FCC of actions taken. The President may, however, substitute alternative spectrum or effective dates based on circumstances as specified in Title VI.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this report for subsequent submission to the President and the Congress is to identify and recommend a final plan for the reallocation of at least 200 MHz of spectrum from the Federal Government to the private sector, in accordance with the requirements of Title VI. The report is based on the Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Plan and comments from the public, the FCC, and Federal Government spectrum users.

APPROACH

The spectrum reallocation plan in Section 5 of this report was based on the preliminary plan, but modified to consider the issues that were identified by the public, the FCC, and Federal Government spectrum users since the release of the Preliminary Report. NTIA analyzed inputs from open public meetings, meetings with individual commenters, Preliminary Report comments, FCC NOI comments, the FCC Report, and the meetings between the FCC and NTIA. A discussion and summary of the input from these sources is presented in Section 2.

In enacting Title VI, Congress acknowledged that reallocating spectrum used by Federal agencies will not come without financial costs and mission impacts. The displaced Federal functions must be preserved in other frequency bands at some cost to the Federal Government. Title VI did not provide a mechanism to compensate Federal agencies for the costs of moving displaced systems. Also, there are many functions that the Federal Government provides to the entire nation that cannot be performed in other frequency bands. The Preliminary Report only broadly described these costs and the operational impacts of implementing the reallocation. The Federal departments and agencies that will be affected by the reallocation are in the best position to identify specific costs. NTIA asked each affected Federal agency to provide cost estimates for reallocating the candidate bands.[EN9] The results of such Federal agency input are summarized in Section 3.

A band-by-band discussion of the frequency bands originally proposed for reallocation, as well as the bands that have been proposed by commenters since the release of the Preliminary Report, is presented in Section 4. The final reallocation plan and conditions are presented in Section 5.

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 ENDNOTES FOR SECTION 1  
      
      
       Requests for copies of references from Federal departments and agencies should
       be referred to the originating organization. Parts of the reference material
       may be exempt from public release.
 
  
     1. 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq. (1988 & Supp. IV 1992).

     2. 47 U.S.C. 901-904 (Supp. V 1993).

     3. Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act, Title VI,  6001(a)(3), Pub. L. No. 103-66, 107 Stat. 379,
         (Aug. 10, 1993) (codified at 47 U.S.C.  921 et seq. (Supp. V 1993)).
      
     4. Nat'l Telecommunications and Info. Admin., U.S. Dep't of Commerce, Special Publication 94-27,
         Preliminary Spectrum Reallocation Report (Feb. 1994) [hereinafter NTIA Preliminary Report].
      
     5. Memorandum from William Gamble, NTIA Deputy Assoc. Adm'r, to NTIA Interdepartment Radio
          Advisory Comm., IRAC Doc. 28880 (Aug. 9, 1994).
     
     6. Id. at 2.

     7. Report from the Federal Communications Comm'n, to Ronald H. Brown, Secretary, U.S. Dep't of
         Commerce, Regarding the NTIA Preliminary Report, FCC 94-213 (Aug. 9, 1994) [hereinafter FCC
         Report].
     
     8. Allocations of Spectrum Below 5 GHz Transferred from Fed. Gov't Use, FCC Notice of Inquiry, ET
         Docket No. 94-32, FCC 94-97, 59 Fed. Reg. 6005 (May 4, 1994).
    
     9. Memorandum from William Gamble, NTIA Deputy Assoc. Adm'r, to NTIA Interdepartment Radio
          Advisory Comm., IRAC Doc. 28740 (March 31, 1994).
      

Return to Report Table of Contents.
Proceed to Section 2, Discussion of Comments.