Testimony of Assistant Secretary Rohde on Spectrum Management Issues

Topics/Subtopics: 
July 19, 2000
The Honorable Gregory L. Rohde
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
U.S. Department of Commerce

Before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection
Committee on Commerce
House of Representatives

July 19, 2000

SUMMARY

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) intends over the next year to devote much of its time and energy to fulfilling the promise of the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) 2000. The development of 3rd Generation wireless services is important to extend wireless high-speed Internet access, which will make this a top policy priority.

At that conference, the U.S. delegation, made up from the government and the private sector, won a major victory in persuading the delegates from more than 150 countries to adopt a plan that will give U.S. industry a great deal of flexibility in determining how to bring wireless Internet and other advanced services to the public. Rather than set aside only one band for what were called IMT-2000 services, the WRC approved our proposal for multiple bands to be used around the world.

Having done that, however, the real work now begins. About 160 MHz of spectrum needs to be found within the three designated bands that will work to the greatest benefit for new services while providing the least anxiety for Federal incumbents who may be in those bands.

As the manager of the Federal spectrum, and as the agency with some of the leading authorities in the world in spectrum issues, NTIA is well equipped to undertake those tasks. We have to take a close look at how existing spectrum is allocated and used. Some of the uses in the bands chosen for future use by advanced wireless services are used now for data communications, satellite links and telemetry.

At the same time, we will have to look at the possible future uses of the bands, what there potential availability might be, and what it will cost, and how long will it take, to move incumbent users from their current bands into new ones in order to accommodate the new services that will be offered as a result of the WRC agreements. If the United States is to be competitive in the market place for succeeding generations of wireless services, we will have to make the appropriate decisions that will make the necessary spectrum available while minimizing the effects and costs to those who may have to be displaced.

Addressing all the issues in selecting a band and potential relocation of those displaced will require cooperation between the Federal government agencies, the NTIA, industry, and the FCC. U.S. spectrum regulators (FCC and NTIA) and major stakeholders should agree to a schedule of events that will result in spectrum for IMT-2000 be designated for use by September 30, 2002, which coincides with Congressional direction that the FCC auction the 1710-1755 and 2110-2160 MHz bands.

NTIA is committed to fostering spectrum-related innovation, within the agency and within the private sector. We want to reduce the amount of time it takes for a routine frequency assignment to mere minutes, and a complex assignment to at most three days, for a process that can now take as long as 15 or more days. We also want to have more efficient electronic access to technical data needed by government experts in the spectrum process.

In addition, I have started the Wireless Innovation Communications Initiative (WICI), which bring together spectrum users from the Federal government with the private sector. Two days ago, I hosted an roundtable discussion how more technologies, including wireless, can be used to warn people of severe weather or other hazards.


The Honorable Gregory L. Rohde
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
U.S. Department of Commerce

Before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection
Committee on Commerce
House of Representatives

July 19, 2000

 

Opening Remarks

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member and other members of this subcommittee, I want to thank you for inviting me to testify today on spectrum management policies and the results of the World Radiocommunications Conference. I am Gregory Rohde, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce. I would like to begin my remarks today by giving a brief overview of NTIA's spectrum management responsibilities, accomplishments and planned improvements; our spectrum outreach to the public safety community; the promotion of new technologies including a new initiative; an assessment of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) which was recently held in Istanbul; and the implementation of future third generation personnel communication systems.

I. SPECTRUM MANAGEMENT

One of NTIA's responsibilities is to serve as the President's primary advisor on telecommunication information policies. The other primary responsibility on behalf of the President is to manage the radio frequency spectrum used by Federal agencies in satisfying their legislatively assigned missions. In this role, NTIA processes the Federal agencies' request for frequency assignments; provides Executive Branch leadership in coordinating both current and future spectrum requirements among the Federal agencies and with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); develops and promotes positions at Treaty Conferences and other technical and management fora of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regarding United States spectrum management interests; and supports specialized administration initiatives that are designed to achieve specific improvements in areas such as air traffic safety, Federal spectrum management procedures, protection of critical infrastructures, and public safety.

A fundamental goal of spectrum management at NTIA, as it is worldwide, is to ensure that there is compatible operation with other radiocommunication systems, validate compliance with spectrum management rules and regulations, and to ensure that spectrum is available for future needs. NTIA's spectrum coordination role is therefore critical to the success of air traffic control, national defense, national resource management, and other vital government functions. Another fundamental goal is to manage this public resource in an efficient manner as to create an environment that encourages private sector innovation. To that end, NTIA's spectrum management function can help advance our broader policy goals to expand access to telecommunications and Internet services to all Americans.

Satisfying Spectrum Needs

NTIA continues to coordinate the spectrum needs of the Federal Government by processing frequency assignment requests by some 53 Federal agencies. NTIA processes approximately 300 to 400 such requests daily through an automated screening process to correct errors in the data and ensure conformity of rules and regulations and through a coordination process with Federal spectrum-using agencies via the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) to ensure compatible operation of radiocommunication systems. In addition, NTIA also certifies spectrum availability of approximately 60 to 70 new major radiocommunications annually.

NTIA also provides leadership for and manages the activities of the IRAC, a body of representatives from twenty Federal agencies that are major users of the spectrum. The IRAC has provided valuable advice to the Executive Branch on numerous spectrum policies and issues for the past 78 years. NTIA has maintained a constant relationship with the FCC both through the IRAC and directly to ensure compatible operations of our radiocommunication systems. This is especially important today since the vast majority of the spectrum is no longer divided into exclusive private-sector and Federal-sector bands, but is shared by all users in the United States.

Spectrum Efficiency

The Federal Government constantly seeks to modernize its radiocommunications, increase the amount of information transmitted per unit bandwidth, and expand the use of more efficient digital technology and the use of private sector radiocommunications. In order to improve Federal spectrum use, NTIA uses the following management tools. First, NTIA based on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations requires that every Federal Government user requesting a frequency assignment determine whether its need can be met by a private or commercially available service provider. This policy has helped encourage consideration of commercial services by many Federal Government agencies, including the Department of Defense.

Second, we promote the use of new spectrum efficient technologies. The Federal Government is a leader in developing new spectrum-efficient techniques such as narrowbanding, digital modulation, and spectrum sharing as well as in the use of the highest quality spectrum-efficient equipment. An example of using these techniques can be shown in the land mobile communications area.

The use of mobile communications is a critical and expanding need for most Federal agencies in the accomplishment of their missions. However, the needs of the private sector for mobile communications in fee-for-service offerings, commercial business uses and public safety operations, which are also expanding, have placed great pressure on NTIA to allow wider access to the portions of the spectrum used by the government mobile services. NTIA has taken the initiative to make sure that all Federal uses are as efficient as possible so that Federal land mobile communications needs can continue to be met in the bands available. The agencies we regulate generally agree with this effort, however, funding is difficult to obtain because it is so costly to completely replace the current systems, which seem to work adequately. Moreover, the agencies are very concerned about control security and emergency response issues when the most efficient solutions require several agencies to share one network.

Government applications of mobile radios include communications for building security, law enforcement by Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Treasury, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Park Police and military police, and for communications with vessels and aircraft. As the technology has advanced, the sophistication of services provided has advanced at the same time and the amount of spectrum needed for each individual communication has decreased. However, since mobile radios used in cars and by pedestrians are engineered for long life and durability, they are very expensive and funding for replacement radios are hard for government agencies to obtain; the FBI has asserted it will cost them approximately $4-billion to replace their aging networks with modern technology.

To help solve this problem, NTIA has issued regulations halving the channel widths of all Federal land mobile radios. All new systems are now expected to operate at the narrower 12.5 kHz bandwidth and all existing systems are expected to transition to the narrower widths by 2005 or 2008 depending on the frequency band being used. We picked long transition periods to allow the users to maximize the service they could obtain from existing assets. NTIA has also restructured the way in which the 406.1-420 MHz band will be used to allow for more efficient operations maximizing user density. Although it has taken several years to complete planning to do this, all Federal agencies support with the resultant assignment efficiencies and are working on a plan to transition to this plan.

NTIA has authorized vendor-operated fee-for-service mobile systems in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Norfolk. These have been very successful in Washington, moderately successful in New York and Philadelphia and largely unsuccessful in Boston, Baltimore, and Norfolk. We intend to further encourage the use of these efficient shared networks by encouraging and supporting the use of locally designed and controlled networks wherever possible.

II. SPECTRUM MANAGEMENT PROCESS IMPROVEMENTS

NTIA is also making progress to more efficiently conduct its management of Federal spectrum. To this end, we are increasing automation and reducing bureaucratic red tape in spectrum management.

Spectrum Management Processes

Federal government spectrum management involves three essential, closely-linked processes: (1) development of spectrum policy leading to rules and regulations that govern the use of spectrum and resolve spectrum management issues; (2) certification that spectrum will be available for planned radiocommunications; and (3) authorization of frequencies to satisfy current Federal agency operational needs. These are traditionally paper-intensive activities, and we are working hard to automate our processes, to make information more readily available and to make our frequency assignments more quickly. We want to reduce the amount of time it takes for a routine frequency assignment to mere minutes, and a complex assignment to at most three days, for a process that now can take as long as 15 or more days.

Frequency Authorization Process

NTIA processes between 6,000 and 10,000 frequency assignment actions monthly. These actions, applications from Federal agencies for new frequency assignments or revisions of existing assignments, must be coordinated with other Federal agencies, and in many cases with FCC and the Government of Canada, to ensure compatible operations with other radiocommunication systems. In addition, these actions include several hundred new assignment proposals each month submitted by the FCC on behalf of non-Federal activities, and by Canada, or coordination with Federal agencies, again to assure compatible operation between radiocommunication systems. NTIA processes all of these action requests via its Frequency Management Records System (FMRS) using computer workstations. This includes the use of over 720 automated procedures to process the actions, to validate information quality, to ensure compliance with spectrum allocation and assignment rules and regulations, and to verify international coordination requirements.

The processing of each day's actions submitted by the various Federal agencies, FCC and Canada, results in the compilation of an assignment action agenda which is sent to the 21 Frequency Assignment Subcommittee (FAS) for their review and coordination. Each member must provide their agency's position on each action (acceptance or table for cause) to NTIA electronically within 15 working days (essentially voting). NTIA tabulates all votes on each action, and approves it or keeps it tabled depending on the tabulation of votes and NTIA's position.

The complexity of, and time requirements for, this processing and coordination procedure are increasing due to not only the constant growth in the number of stations authorized by NTIA (doubled since 1980), but also the number of non-Government stations in shared Government/non-Government bands being authorized by the FCC, as well the number of new stations being authorized by Canada that must be coordinated.

Records for NTIA-approved actions are placed in the NTIA-maintained Government Master File (GMF) of frequency assignments (or removed in the case of deletions). The updated GMF is provided to the Federal agencies monthly on CDROM.

The GMF data on the CDROM can be searched, selected, sorted, and printed on paper or exported to files through the use of a desktop or laptop computer. There are approximately 426,000 approved frequency authorizations in the GMF.

Within the last five years, NTIA, in partnership with the Department of Defense, developed the Spectrum XXI software capability for Federal agencies to: (1) prepare their applications for frequency assignment actions, (2) assess the action's compliance with NTIA rules and regulations, and (3) determine if the action would result in interference to other spectrum users. Over 250 persons within the Federal government have completed a one-week training course on Spectrum XXI. NTIA has also overhauled its frequency management records system by developing and implementing new software on state of the art work stations.

NTIA's goal for improvement is to provide a completely automated and electronically accessible (domestically and ultimately globally) central capability (E-commerce at the Federal level on a global basis) for the frequency management community to obtain approval of frequency assignment action requests within minutes for routine requests, to a maximum of 3 days for more complex requests.

Spectrum Policy Development and Issue Resolution Process

Federal radiocommunication policy development and spectrum issue resolution are largely based on the efforts of NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management with a very heavy reliance on the advice of the 20-member IRAC, which represents Federal spectrum users. The IRAC meets more than 200 times each year, and its subcommittees involve the exchange, reproduction, and distribution of over 100,000 pages of documents relating to Federal spectrum management and assignment of frequencies. We are working to reduce the massive paper load that accompanies such activity, and we recently awarded a contract to transfer IRAC documents from the past 78 years over to CD-ROM and onto computer servers.

Our goal in this area is to provide a completely computer automated and electronically- accessible capability (in essence, E-government) for the Federal spectrum management community to obtain information from the official IRAC policy development and spectrum issue resolution documentation.

Spectrum Certification Process

Both OMB Circular A-11 and the NTIA Manual require that every Federal agency developing a major radiocommunications system obtain NTIA certification that the spectrum required by the system will be available when the system is ready to be deployed. NTIA currently assesses spectrum availability for approximately 62 major, new Federal radiocommunications systems each year. For the most part, these systems are reviewed manually using document-based information processing techniques. This process takes an average of approximately 4 to 6 months to complete for each system.

NTIA's goal in this area is to develop an automated, electronically-accessible (domestically and ultimately globally) capability for the spectrum certification community to obtain, use, and provide all the necessary information to obtain approval of their system certification requests within the time frame of two months.

Overall Process Improvement Summary

If the Federal government can gain the efficiencies I described, it may be possible for these same type of improvements to be made on a national basis with the result of providing the needed spectrum for use by both the Federal government and private sector very quickly without bureaucratic delays of months and years and to share more spectrum based on sound technical grounds. This could essentially enable management of spectrum largely through the use of E-commerce techniques

The President's budget for FY 2001 requested $1 million ($200,000 via appropriations and $800,000 from reimbursement from the Federal agencies) for these improvements. This was the first leg of a four-year program to meet these goals. If the United States is to maintain its competitiveness in the marketplace and to make strides in closing the digital divide gap, the United States must improve its spectrum management processes and cut out the red tape and bureaucratic road blocks that inhibit timely distribution and sharing of spectrum for radiocommunications.

III. SPECTRUM OUTREACH

Now I would like to describe NTIA's activities in extending a helping hand to the public safety community.

All Hazards Roundtable

On July 17, 2000, NTIA, in cooperation with an inter-agency working group that works on public safety issues, hosted the All-Hazard Warning Roundtable. Dr. Jim Baker, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was a co-host at the event. The purpose of the roundtable was to bring together representatives of existing systems, such as NOAA with its weather radio, with representatives of new and emerging technologies, including the Internet and wireless products, as well as reverse 9-1-1 systems, to see how our already excellent warning system can be improved. I viewed the roundtable as the start of a process that will bring government and industry together to talk about creating a more comprehensive warning network.

The event was an overwhelming success as all the panelists agreed that more needs to be done in order to provide effective and immediate warnings. Follow-up meetings will take place so that substantive and technical issues can be discussed so that hazard warnings may be widely available to the public through various existing and emerging telecommunications technologies. The roundtable is the latest activity of the informal inter-agency group that was organized last year until Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. The working group published a report, "Saving Lives With An All-Hazard Warning Network" that found NOAA Weather Radios forms the backbone of an all-hazard system. However, we found that we must improve access to warnings and make warnings themselves better.

Federal & State Joint Project

One of the more pressing needs of all radio services in terms of radio spectrum is for the public safety services. The inability of agencies from the Federal Government to talk to state and local counterparts in times of emergencies and natural disasters is a paramount concern. NTIA has recently put forth plans to designate certain federally allocated radio frequencies for use by Federal, state and local law enforcement and incident response entities to improve their communications during emergencies and help them to better respond to threats to public safety. This new plan is the first step towards ensuring that sufficient radio spectrum is available when and where an emergency or public safety need may arise. The plan was developed in cooperation with the IRAC and the Federal Law Enforcement Wireless Users' Group (FLEWUG). It provides a total of 40 radio frequencies, under the control of the Federal Government, to be used for intermittent law enforcement and incident response requirements during emergencies relating to public safety.

In another example of Federal-state cooperation, NTIA, working with the Department of Defense, authorized the state of Wisconsin to use Federal radio frequencies to test a shared land mobile communications system that will greatly ease communication during emergencies as well as during day-to-day communications. There are a number of land mobile systems currently operated by Federal agencies or by State and local governments around the country that provide communications during emergency operations to all levels of government. To further promote this capability, the NTIA, working with the Departments of the Treasury and Justice jointly sponsored Public Safety Wireless Network (PSWN) Program, have initiated a number of pilots throughout the country to test and evaluate various interoperable solutions among all levels of government. Although there are many emergency land mobile systems, the Wisconsin Pilot project is the first system providing shared services on a day-to-day basis. However, with the continued efforts of the NTIA and the FCC, working with the PSWN Program, it is anticipated that future shared systems and programs will be more readily available.

National Coordination Committee (NCC)

The National Coordination Committee (NCC) was established by the FCC to solicit input from the public safety community in the further development of rules governing the new 700 MHz public safety band, particularly in regard to interoperability. NTIA actively participates in the NCC by offering advise and subject matter expertise on issues directly related to the NCC. NTIA, together with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Treasury co-sponsor the NCC. Participation is vital to ensure that interoperability between Federal, State and local responders is achieved.

IV. PROMOTION OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES

The Federal government uses a minimum amount of spectrum as possible to perform its existing and planned mission needs. Every Federal agency must determine if its radiocommunication requirements can be satisfied by the private sector before they develop their own radiocommunications. It is critical that the Federal government have sufficient spectrum to meet all its obligations to the American people including national defense, law enforcement, resource management control, air traffic control, and any other safety-of-life services. The Federal government has been very successful in using new technology in developing its radiocommunications and conserving spectrum.

In my judgement, one of the most important things I can do in my capacity at NTIA, is to get the Federal agencies and the private sector to engage in a constructive dialogue. It is imperative - as a nation as a whole and from the individual perspectives of Federal agencies and the private sector - that a cooperative relationship exist between the government and private sectors be realized.

WICI

One initiative I started at NTIA earlier this year is to establish the "Wireless Innovations in Communications Initiative" to promote spectrum efficiency and innovation and to create a dialogue between the Federal government agencies and the private sector. The Federal agencies, considered collectively, are a large user of communication services in the United States. Although many of these services are provided by commercial providers through government contracts, the Federal government continues to own and operate significant communications facilities that perform certain mission-critical functions. Federal agencies use the radio spectrum to operate the wireless portions of these Government-operated communications facilities. Because of the growing public and private sector requirements for spectrum, there is an urgent need to ensure that this limited national resource is used effectively and efficiently.

One of the objectives of the WICI is to promote innovative developments in communications technologies and facilitate their timely application to satisfy actual communication needs by both the Federal agencies and the private sector. The scope of this initiative extends across the full range of wireless communications technologies, including fixed, mobile, radar, navigation, and satellite communications. The approach planned for conducting WICI was to establish a committee (WICI Committee) within the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) comprised of senior experts in the Federal government who understand their agency's radiocommunication requirements and can envision the potential applicability of new technologies. The WICI Committee has scheduled a series of meetings in which representatives from Federal agencies discuss their communications requirements. In addition, private sector developers of communication innovations present their ideas on how to satisfy the Federal agencies' requirements. WICI is intended to promote the development of innovations in wireless communications and systematically examine their applicability to actual communications requirements.

Six meetings of the WICI have taken place since the initiative was begun in March of this year. The focus of these first meetings have been on land mobile communications, specifically software defined radios and public safety communications. Following the presentations by Federal agencies, 8 major private sector developers have come forward and have explained their new technologies that address the requirements described in the Federal briefings. Other areas such as satellites and radar will be addressed in the future. The spectrum management process will also be discussed with the private sector as well.

I hope that over time, this initiative will foster better cooperation between government and private sector in spectrum management. I believe that we can do more to assist Federal agencies to more efficiently meet their communications needs and to promote continued innovation of wireless technologies. The purpose of the WICI is to point us in a new direction with respect to spectrum management.

New Technologies

NTIA is very interested in helping advance the development of new wireless technologies that will create efficiency and opportunity. One example is ultrawide band (UWB).

UWB transmits very low power radio signals with very short pulses, often in the picosecond (1/1000th of a nanosecond) range using very wide signal bandwidths. Because of that combination of characteristics, UWB has shown promise for many commercial applications, including wireless communications within buildings and the locations of objects on the other side of walls or other barriers. UWB will be using the same spectrum that is presently being used by conventional radiocommunication devices, including emergency services. As a result, it will be important to ensure that there are no adverse effects from UWB to these critical services.

The FCC, in coordination with NTIA, has granted waivers for three UWB manufacturers. This has enabled limited production of these devices until more permanent rules can be established and appropriate measurements and analysis can be made to determine the technical feasibility of sharing spectrum.

NTIA has begin a comprehensive test and analysis program that will be carried out jointly by NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management in Washington and our Institute for Telecommunication Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. This program will determine from a technical and engineering point of view, the conditions under which UWB technology can be integrated in the spectrum environment ensure compatible operation with existing safety-of-life systems including those used or planned for air traffic control with special attention to the Global Positioning System (GPS). NTIA will be spending approximately $1 million for this effort which is to be completed in the fall of this year. This testing program will also help the FCC, which recently proposed new rules allowing UWB systems on an unlicenced basis.

V. WRC-2000

THE WRC - General

I would like discuss briefly the results of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2000 (WRC-2000) which was held in May in Instanbul, Turkey. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other Federal agencies provide the main technical support for the United States delegation at World Radiocommunication Conferences. Given the gravity of the issues involved at WRC-2000, NTIA considered this year's conference among the top priorities of the agency this year. The outcome of this past conference, as with previous conferences, affect significantly on spectrum management and the development of wireless communications services in the United States, and the competitive position of U.S. manufacturers. Therefore, conference preparation and follow-up is a responsibility that NTIA takes very seriously.

I spent a week and a half in Istanbul with the 157 member U.S. delegation (including 59 representatives from companies) to the WRC-2000. There were over 2000 delegates from over 150 countries - each working to ensure that their existing uses of the spectrum for their radiocommunications would be protected and that their future requirements for the spectrum would be satisfied. Countries were also attempting to agree on new rules or modifications to existing regulations and procedures required to ensure compatible operation. I had the opportunity to talk to members of many delegations to promote the U.S. views and to listen to their views on the many issues being addressed at the WRC. It was apparent that both developed and developing countries had definite views on: (1) obtaining additional spectrum for implementing International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000) and future generations of advance communications; (2) allocating sufficient spectrum for GPS and the European Galileo satellite-based worldwide navigation systems; and (3) ensuring appropriate distribution of spectrum for broadcast satellite services.

Developing countries were particularly interested in obtaining guaranteed future access to satellite spectrum which the developed countries have almost fully occupied over the last 30 years. The developing countries were very concerned that as technology opened the doors for broadband communications, they would fall in the shadows of this economic boom and communications expansion -- exacerbating the economic and digital divide that currently exists between developing and developed countries. They expressed concern that both the economic gap and the digital divide would continue to grow. Moreover, they feared being forced to set aside spectrum for new broadband systems and to transition equipment infrastructure when their first generation cellular was still developing. Many developing countries still appear to be slow to adopt regulatory reform needed to facilitate communications investment. Developing countries are also as concerned as we are in the Administration about the digital divide. It is safe to say, that wireless communications technologies are taking on a greater importance in most nations, including our own, and are viewed as a critical means to expanding economic opportunity.

It was a privilege and an honor to work with Ambassador Gail Schoettler and members of the U.S. delegation. Her outstanding leadership, along with the outstanding effort by the delegation members, was paramount to the success of the United States. I would also like to express my admiration for the cooperation between NTIA, FCC, State Department, and the industry members of the delegation. In my estimation and based on discussions with others that attended previous conferences, this was one of the most productive. I would also like to bring to the attention of the subcommittee, Ambassador Schoettler's report, in which a number of recommendations were made to improve future conferences. Among other things, she points to the importance of WRC preparations starting early and maintaining continuity of leadership and organization from conference to conference and that communications between industry and government and within the delegation, with the press and with Congress, should be open and timely. Finally, she recommends that a strong and continuous international outreach program should be undertaken - something that Ambassador Schoettler did well prior to the WRC and which we need to be certain to follow up on. As a nation, the United States needs to take these conferences very seriously in order to continue the United States' leadership role in the ITU and subsequent WRCs, and maintain an open and free market place.

WRC - Major Issues for Federal Government

The major issues at the WRC included: (1) Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) re-planning, technical and procedural matters; (2) International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000); (3) Non-Geostationary Orbit and Geostationary Orbit (NGSO/GSO) spectrum sharing; (4) Radionavigation Satellite Service (RNSS) issues including GPS sharing with Mobile- Satellite Service (MSS); and (5) high density fixed systems (HDFS). The United States met all its objectives in these major areas including sufficient spectrum for IMT-2000, protection of U.S. communication and radionavigation systems, agreement that mobile satellite service cannot share with GPS, and sufficient spectrum for GPS and other planned satellite navigation systems.

I would like to focus my remarks with respect to WRC-2000 on implementation of IMT-2000 since NTIA will be playing a pivotal role in this process. And, I would say at the outset that, in my judgement, the development of advanced wireless services is one of the most important communications policy issues facing our nation. The Internet revolution will take yet another dramatic leap when we, hopefully, have widespread availability to mobile Internet access. I consider the development of wireless Internet critical to achieving important policy goals such as closing the digital divide.
 

 

VI. DEVELOPMENT OF WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES

Transition to IMT-2000

Over the past decade, there has been enormous worldwide growth in the use of cellular-type wireless communications systems. Many countries initially introduced analog systems and have now transitioned to digital systems. Studies in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and elsewhere indicate that this growth in personal communications is likely to continue. Third generation (3G) wireless communications systems will provide mobile and satellite-based broadband capabilities, and represent a path for the evolution of existing cellular and personal communications services (PCS). Annual service and infrastructure revenue for 3G is estimated to approach $100 billion by 2007, of which two-thirds is predicted to come from data and other non-voice services. It has also been estimated that wireless subscribers are projected to grow from 469 million in 1999, $1 billion in 2002, and 1.26 billion in 2005 or an average penetration rate of nearly 20 percent. The United States cannot afford to get left behind in this technological leap forward.

The member administrations of the ITU have identified the technical characteristics of a third generation system, and have termed it International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000). Key features include a high degree of commonality of design world-wide; compatibility of services within IMT-2000 and other fixed networks; and high-quality world-wide use and roaming capability for multi-media applications (e.g. video-teleconferencing and high-speed Internet access). The ITU established an agenda item for WRC-2000 which considered the review of spectrum and regulatory issues for advanced mobile applications in the context of IMT-2000, noting that there is an urgent need to provide more spectrum, particularly for the terrestrial component of such applications and to make adjustments to the Table of Frequency Allocations as necessary.

Let me briefly review the IMT-2000 WRC-2000 results.

IMT-2000 - U.S. WRC Results

In accordance with U.S. goals and the concerns of the developing world, the outcome of the conference provides direction to facilitate technology development but also emphasizes flexibility for administrations. The conference adopted various types of regulatory text for implementation of IMT-2000 in a number of bands. These include bands for the terrestrial component of IMT-2000: 806-960 MHz (some countries noted that spectrum was available in their countries as low as 698 MHz, but most felt uneasy about including existing broadcast bands), 1710-1885 and 2500-2690 MHz. For the satellite component the bands included 1525-1544, 1545-1559, 1610-1626.5, 1626.5-1645.5, 1646.5-1660.5, 2483.5-2500, 2500-2520, and 2670-2690 MHz. The Conference also approved High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) operations in portions of the bands 1885-2025 and 2110-2200 MHz. The language in the various regulatory texts is different, however the meaning is the same, maximum flexibility for implementation. This regulatory identification for IMT-2000 does not preclude the use of these bands for any applications of the services to which they are allocated and does not establish priority in the Radio Regulations. For the new bands above 1 GHz, a significant amount of language was accepted by the Conference that makes it clear that administrations can implement any of the bands in any time frame, for any service or technology, and may use any portion of the bands that they deem appropriate based on national requirements.

In summary, the WRC-2000 identified 519 MHz of additional spectrum for terrestrial (plus 230 MHz from WARC-92), totaling 749 MHz of spectrum for IMT-2000. It should be noted that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radiocommunications Bureau only forecasted a need of 160 MHz of additional global spectrum for terrestrial by 2010, exclusive of frequency bands already used for first and second generation systems. It is up to each nation to decide which bands will be adopted for IMT-2000 in their country. Administrations can implement any bands in any time frame, for any service or technology, and may use any portion of the bands that they deem appropriate based on national requirements.

The United States won a very significant victory at WRC-2000 in that the conference adopted our plan to utilize a multi-band approach and provide administrations with flexibility to develop 3G technology. This approach provides enough guidance with respect to which band will be 3-G bands while permitting marketplace flexibility.

IMT-2000 - The Domestic Scene

The real work is about to begin domestically. The United States must now decide what bands or portions thereof will be allocated or reallocated for IMT-2000 use domestically. The possibilities for terrestrial include 698-960, 1710-2025, 2110-2200, and 2500-2690 MHz. NTIA and the FCC agreed before the WRC-2000 to perform studies for the 1755-1850 MHz band (NTIA) and for the 2500-2690 MHz band (FCC). The studies are to examine, among other things: existing spectrum allocations; existing use; existing investment; future use; potential availability of alternate spectrum for potentially displaced users, changes in the domestic allocation table, cost and time frame to move existing users; sharing potential of existing users with IMT-2000 services and the possibility of existing users in 2500-2690 MHz band providing IMT-2000 services. The satellite component possibilities include the use of 1525-1559, 1610-1660.5, 2483.5-2500, 2500-2520 and 2670-2690 MHz bands. Bands are not as congested in most other countries. Most European countries and Japan are licensing 3G operators now, who will begin services in 2002.

The 1755-1850 MHz band supports four main Federal functions: space telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C); medium capacity fixed microwave; tactical radio relay training; and aeronautical mobile applications such as telemetry, video and target scoring systems. This band is allocated on an exclusive basis to the Federal Government for fixed and mobile, space operation (Earth-to-space) and space research (Earth-to-space) services, and in the 1761-1842 MHz portion, used for space tracking, telemetry and command. Fixed links are operated by Federal agencies for voice, data, and/or video communications where commercial service is unavailable, excessively expensive, or unable to meet required reliability. Applications include law enforcement, emergency preparedness, support for the National air space system, military command and control networks, and control links for various power, land, water, and electric-power management systems. Other specified fixed links include video relay, data relay, and timing distribution signals. Probably the most critical system in the band is the USAF Space Ground Link Subsystem (SGLS). This system, via Earth-to-space uplinks in the 1761-1842 MHz band, controls the U.S. military satellites, including telecommunications satellites, intelligence gathering satellites, the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation, and satellites of other Federal government agencies and U.S. allies.

The two major services in the 2500-2690 MHz band are the Multichannel Multipoint Distribution System (MMDS), and the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS).

MMDS is a public radio service transmitting from one or more fixed stations, and received by multiple receivers at various locations. There are over 2500 licenses for MMDS in the band, nation-wide. Licenses are granted on the basis of Basic Trading Areas (BTAs). MMDS is a technology for delivering fixed wireless high-speed access. Until recently, the incumbent local telephone companies and local cable systems-both wired services-have offered the only options for mass market high-speed access. The MMDS frequencies, located in the 2.1 and 2.5 - 2.7 GHz bands, are suited for the delivery of broadband access to data, voice and Internet service. The channels allocated to MMDS have traditionally been used to provide a multichannel video programming service, so-called "wireless cable," that is similar to cable television. Rather than being hardwired, MMDS uses microwave frequencies. Like broadcast television, MMDS is transmitted from a broadcast tower, usually located on a mountain or tall building, to special antennas on residences or businesses throughout a local market. The technology is, however, undergoing rapid changes. In September 1998, the FCC announced new rules which allow two-way service via MMDS frequencies. When MMDS can be used for two-way service, it will become a viable broadband service delivery option. The two-way capability allows a return channel, so MMDS can be effectively used as a wireless option for interactive applications and two-way data service. The new rules still contemplate fixed service, even for two-way operations.

The other major service in the band is the ITFS, and is regulated under Part 74, Subpart I of the Commission's Rules. ITFS is used for television transmission of academic subject matter to remote classrooms, or other locations. ITFS channels are from 2500 to 2596 MHz, and interleaved with MDS channels above 2644 MHz. Of the 31, six-megahertz channels in the MMDS/ITFS spectrum band, the FCC licenses twenty of these channels to non-profit educational entities. The channels are used by educators for instructional programming, and unused channels may be leased to MMDS operators, and can be used for the same kind of broadband services discussed above. Partnerships have developed between ITFS spectrum holders and MMDS companies that provide expertise, revenue, and access to hardware and software to ITFS partners, to better enable them to build their distance learning programs.

All of the above bands are used at present. Incumbent users in these bands have objected to having their operations moved, because of cost, effects on mission/business plans, and the interruption of day-to-day activities. However, if the United States is to be competitive in the marketplace for succeeding generations of wireless communications, the United States will have to make the appropriate decisions that will make the necessary spectrum available while minimizing the effects and costs to those who may have to be displaced. For those who may be required to relocate, additional spectrum may have to be found or other accommodations will have to be made to continue their operations.

Addressing all the issues in selecting a band or bands and potential relocation of those displaced will require cooperation and collaboration between the Federal government agencies, the NTIA, industry, and the FCC. To this end, the Administration believes it imperative that the U.S. spectrum regulators (FCC and NTIA) and major stakeholders agree to a schedule of events that will result in spectrum for IMT-2000 being designated for use by September 30, 2002, which coincides with Congressional direction that the FCC auction the 1710-1755 and 2110-2160 MHz. The major ingredients to meet this goal will be completion of the spectrum studies by the FCC and NTIA as discussed above, timely coordination between the FCC and NTIA including the Federal agencies and industry stakeholders affected, and the expediency of the FCC rule-making process.

The United States also has to focus on of what other countries are doing. For example, most PCS users in the United States cannot take their phones to Europe and use them since PCS systems in the United States use incompatible technologies. U.S. GSM users can roam to Europe. Therefore, other countries planned use of spectrum for IMT-2000 could have an effect on frequency bands the United States may choose or on the need for manufacturers to expand the use of multi-band, multi-technology equipment. However, industry is very concerned about the impact this will have on the affordability, features, and size of equipment, particularly if the United States is unable to harmonize frequencies with the rest of the world. The United States has stood firmly behind the concept of technology innovation and flexibility in the past, while Europe has been very successful in promoting single bands and single technologies.

Another aspect of this decision, is the impact the spectrum selection will have on the digital divide, the gap between those individuals and communities that have access to these Information Age tools and those who don't. NTIA's "Falling Through The Net" report in July 1999 indicated that better-educated Americans are more likely to be connected to the Internet, whites are more likely to be connected than African-Americans and Hispanics, wealthier schools are more likely to be connected than poorer schools, and people with disabilities are less likely to have access to technology. The United States will have to evaluate the impact of decision options on the gap and hopefully make decisions that will close the gap.

The Administration intends to engage in a serious inter-agency process, working cooperatively with the private sector, to identify aggressively particular spectrum and develop 3G wireless services. NTIA will lead this process on behalf of the Administration and we will regularly inform the Congress on the progress of our efforts.

Conclusion

Thank you for this opportunity. I will be happy to answer your questions.