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NTIA Identifies 3450-3550 MHz for Study as Potential Band for Wireless Broadband Use

February 26, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Americans rely on broadband Internet access to stay connected, to conduct business, to interact with the government, and for entertainment. Our nation’s broadband needs are increasingly wireless. Whether it’s 5G wireless technologies that promise to deliver dramatic increases in wireless broadband speeds and bandwidth, or the unlicensed technologies we place in our homes, businesses, and communities, wireless broadband technologies are paving the way for transformative changes that will improve health care, advance manufacturing and benefit public safety.

America is the world’s leader in Wi-Fi and 4G LTE and we have claimed an early lead in bringing 5G to reality. It’s essential to American competitiveness that we maintain our leadership in all of these areas. This is a Commerce Department priority under Secretary Wilbur Ross, who understands that to fully realize this potential, we need more spectrum to support broadband data access across the electromagnetic spectrum. 

To meet this growing need, NTIA, in coordination with the Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies, has identified 100 megahertz of spectrum for potential repurposing to spur commercial wireless innovation. This spectrum, the 3450-3550 MHz band, is in the mid-frequency range and could be a key asset in our nation’s broadband spectrum inventory.    

In the United States, military radar systems currently operate in the 3450-3550 MHz band. DOD plans to submit a proposal under the Spectrum Pipeline Act to carry out a comprehensive radio-frequency engineering study to determine the potential for introducing advanced wireless services in this band without harming critical government operations. We hope the result of this hard work will be a “win-win,” enabling the continuing growth of the U.S. wireless industry while protecting radars that are vital for national security.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in coordination with NTIA and DOD, has already approved rules for the adjacent 3550-3700 MHz band for its planned Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). And the United States is joined by regulators in Europe and elsewhere in looking to include mid-frequency spectrum for commercial use. The potential for international spectrum harmonization could lead to the creation of a global market for equipment that includes the 3450-3550 MHz band, and could help bring services to market quicker, and at lower prices for consumers.

The decision to study the 3450-3550 MHz band is part of an ongoing effort across the U.S. government to support deployment of wireless broadband and foster American leadership in 5G. Collectively, NTIA, the FCC and the federal agencies are making great strides across low-, mid- and high-frequency spectrum, including innovative sharing approaches in the AWS-3 and the CBRS bands.

Ensuring sufficient spectrum will be available for advanced services is a goal shared across government and industry, and NTIA will work with our partners to do everything we can to bring our nation’s 5G future to fruition.