Before the


Washington, D.C.  20230



In the Matter of


The President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative  Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed









Docket No. 060602142-6142-01



Comments of ctia – the wireless association®


CTIA – The Wireless Association® (“CTIA”)[1] respectfully submits these comments in response to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (“NTIA”) Notice of Inquiry regarding a Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed (“Test Bed”), to be administered jointly with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) in accordance with the President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative.[2]  CTIA welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on this innovative Government pilot program.[3]  For years, mobile wireless service providers have operated at the forefront of spectrum efficiency, and CTIA applauds the Government’s initiative to explore ways “to promote more efficient and beneficial use” of spectrum, particularly with respect to federal spectrum use.


In his 2003 Presidential Memorandum on Spectrum Policy, President Bush identified spectrum as “a vital and limited national resource” and expressed concern that “[t]he existing legal and policy framework for spectrum management has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and spectrum use.”[4]  The President established the Spectrum Policy Initiative and identified its key mission and goals: 

The Initiative shall undertake a comprehensive review of spectrum management policies . . . with the objective of identifying recommendations for revising policies and procedures to promote more efficient and beneficial use of spectrum without harmful interference to incumbent users.[5]


As part of the Spectrum Policy Initiative, the Department of Commerce convened a wide array of stakeholders and issued two reports, one developed in consultation with a Federal Government Spectrum Task Force and another prepared with input from state, local and private spectrum users.[6]  The reports contain numerous recommendations, and NTIA subsequently issued a plan to implement key recommendations, including the establishment of a Test Bed to be administered jointly by NTIA and the FCC “for shared federal and non-federal use.”[7] 

With this Notice of Inquiry, NTIA seeks public comment on the Test Bed initiative, “where Federal and non-Federal users can study the feasibility of increasing the efficient use of spectrum.”[8]  CTIA supports the Spectrum Policy Initiative and in particular the Government’s interest in improved spectrum efficiency in federal spectrum and in non-federal spectrum as well. 



As NTIA’s Plan to Implement Spectrum Policy Initiative Recommendations observed, “[s]ince the Initiative was launched, the demand for spectrum to support commercial services as well as critical government missions such as national defense, public safety, homeland security, scientific research, and other uses has continued to increase.”[9]  With the release of the Notice of Inquiry, NTIA also explained that the Test Bed will “explore innovative ways to make more intensive use of the nation’s airwaves and promote continued economic growth and national security.”[10]  CTIA supports efforts to improve the efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum; indeed, time and again CTIA has emphasized that efficient use of spectrum must be a core component of any spectrum management plan.[11]  As explained further below, while some spectrum users already have incentives to maximize spectral efficiencies – and have made significant capital investments to evolve their technologies in new and more spectrally efficient ways – other spectrum users do not.  In circumstances where market incentives do not operate, policy initiatives like the Test Bed may serve an especially important function.

In the U.S. mobile wireless market, providers are subject to intense competition and economic pressures and have market incentives to deploy state-of-the-art technologies that maximize the efficiency of their available spectrum, before devoting additional capital to acquire new spectrum.  Indeed, since CTIA began collecting data in 1985, the mobile wireless industry has invested nearly $200 billion in capital expenditures, including more than $25 billion spent in 2005.[12]  With these investments, U.S. mobile wireless providers have achieved dramatic increases in spectrum efficiencies necessary to keep pace with the tremendous growth in wireless subscribership and minutes of use.  As of year-end 2005, there were nearly 208 million subscribers in the United States – more than one million subscribers per megahertz of spectrum licensed for CMRS.[13]  Wireless customers accessed 1.5 trillion minutes of use in 2005, up 36 percent from 2004.[14]  The mobile industry has been able to adapt, to innovate, and to introduce greater spectrum efficiencies in large part because of FCC policies which created strong incentives to invest in modern technologies – policies characterized by flexible use and defined rights, including but not limited to interference protection rights.  With these principles in mind, the President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative and the Test Bed pilot program offer an opportunity to explore new technologies and models of service for Government and industry alike.

CTIA firmly believes that the Government should create opportunities to examine ways to enhance efficient use of spectrum.  In particular, there is significant utility in considering ways to encourage more efficient use of federal spectrum – as well as non-federal use that is not subject to the market incentives that drive spectrum efficiency, such as spectrum auctions.    The Spectrum Policy Initiative’s Report 1 provided recommendations derived from the Federal Government Spectrum Task Force and specifically addressed the issue of spectrum efficiency and federal spectrum use:

Although NTIA’s spectrum management processes stress efficient and effective use of the spectrum . . . [i]t trusts each agency to ensure that their systems are the most spectrum efficient practicable. NTIA conducts general reviews of new systems and reviews agency performance in the normal frequency assignment coordination process.  However, NTIA has generally left to agencies decisions regarding whether a system uses spectrum appropriately or whether needs can be satisfied using a commercial service or a non-spectrum technology.[15]


A 2004 General Accounting Office report, referenced in Report 1, also observed, “The lack of economic consequence associated with the manner in which spectrum is used has also provided little incentive to agencies to pursue opportunities proactively to develop and use technologies that would improve spectrum efficiency governmentwide.”[16]  

            Clearly, significant opportunity exists to examine new technologies and service models that can improve spectrum efficiency in federal spectrum.  NTIA is engaged in several initiatives to gauge federal spectrum use and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal spectrum use.  Reform of federal spectrum policy will not come easily, but the Test Bed initiative can play a key role in providing opportunities for federal spectrum users to experience new technologies or new models of service that can lead to more efficient and effective use of spectrum. 

            CTIA also believes that the Test Bed should not focus exclusively on federal spectrum use.  For example, some non-federal users do not experience market incentives that compel efficient use of spectrum.  As such, there would be utility in using the Test Bed to develop opportunities for more efficient use of the spectrum dedicated to these users as well.   

With respect to candidate spectrum bands, CTIA strongly urges the Government to specify that the mobile wireless bands are not appropriate candidates given the intensive and efficient spectrum use in those bands discussed above, as well as the ongoing evolution of products and service offerings.  This holds true for the PCS, cellular and ESMR spectrum bands as well as the future wireless communications service spectrum bands including the 1.7/2.1 GHz Advanced Wireless Service (“AWS”)-1 spectrum subject to Auction 66, the AWS-2 spectrum located in the 1.9-2.1 GHz bands, and the 700 MHz analog television spectrum to be returned as part of the DTV transition, given that these bands will also be intensively used.  Further, the Government should refrain from incorporating into the Test Bed other commercial bands such as BRS/EBS and WCS spectrum where future planned usage is already underway.

III.       The Government Should Maintain Oversight of Test Bed Operations and Evaluate the Results of the Program


The Test Bed pilot program offers an opportunity to extend the success of the FCC’s Part 5 experimental licensing program from non-federal to federal spectrum use and among a wider community of spectrum users.  At the same time, given the Test Bed’s relevance to the spectrum policy debate, it is important that the Government exercise oversight of operations within the Test Bed spectrum.

To that end, the Government should require parties interested in Test Bed operations to supply detailed submissions prior to gaining access to the spectrum in order to ensure that each proposed use is well considered.  These submissions should include pre-experiment or pre-service assumptions, analysis, and predictions, as well as an analysis demonstrating that the experiment or service will not cause harmful interference to incumbent operations.  Further, at the conclusion of any Test Bed usage, operators should be required to submit a report detailing the goals, assumptions, methodology, and results so that the Government can evaluate the performance of the experiment or service model.


In light of the above, CTIA urges the Government to use the Test Bed pilot program as an opportunity to examine new technologies or service models that improve efficient use in underutilized spectrum bands.


Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Christopher Guttman-McCabe                    




1400 16th Street, NW  Suite 600

Washington, D.C.  20036

(202) 785-0081


Michael F. Altschul

Senior Vice President, General Counsel


Christopher Guttman-McCabe

Vice President, Regulatory Policy


Brian M. Josef,

Director, Regulatory Policy


Its Attorneys


July 10, 2006





[1] CTIA – The Wireless Association® (formerly known as the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) is the international organization of the wireless communications industry for both wireless carriers and manufacturers.  Membership in the organization covers Commercial Mobile Radio Service (“CMRS”) providers and manufacturers, including cellular, broadband PCS, and ESMR, as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products.

[2] See Notice of Inquiry, The President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed, Docket No. 060602142-6142-01, 71 Fed. Reg. 33,282 (June 8, 2006) (“Notice of Inquiry”).

[3] CTIA is also filing comments that are substantively similar in response to the FCC’s Test Bed public notice.  See Public Notice, Federal Communications Commission Seeks Public Comment on Creation of a Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed, FCC 06-77, ET Docket No. 06-89 (rel. June 8, 2006). 

[4] Presidential Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century, 39 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 726, 727 (May 29, 2003), 69 Fed. Reg. 1568 (Jan. 9, 2004).

[5] Id. at § 2.

[6] NTIA, U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century – The President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative: Report 1, Recommendations of the Federal Government Spectrum Task Force (June 2004) (“Report 1”), available at; NTIA, U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century – The President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative: Report 2, Recommendations from State and Local Governments and Private Sector Responders (June 2004) (“Report 2”), available at

[7] NTIA, U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, Spectrum Management for the 21st Century – Plan to Implement Recommendations of The President’s Spectrum Policy Initiative, at 18 (“Plan to Implement Spectrum Policy Initiative Recommendations”) available at

[8] Notice of Inquiry, 71 Fed. Reg. at 33,282.

[9] Plan to Implement Spectrum Policy Initiative Recommendations at 4.

[10] News Release, NTIA Seeks Public Comment on Creation of Spectrum Sharing Innovation Test-Bed (June 7, 2006), available at

[11] See e.g., Comments of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, ET Docket No. 02-135 (Jan. 27, 2003) (promoting efficiency and concurring with the Spectrum Policy Task Force recommendation to build a cost-benefit analysis into future allocations).

[12] See CTIA Wireless Quick Facts (April 2006), available at

[13] See id.  The United States currently has licensed approximately 180 MHz of spectrum designated for CMRS operations, namely 120 MHz of broadband PCS spectrum, 50 MHz of cellular spectrum, and 10 MHz of attributable ESMR spectrum.  See 2000 Biennial Regulatory Review Spectrum Aggregation Limits for Commercial Mobile Radio Services, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 16 FCC Rcd 2763 (2001).

[14] See CTIA Wireless Quick Facts.

[15] Report 1 at 23.

[16] See General Accounting Office, Spectrum Management:  Better Knowledge Needed to Take Advantage of Technologies That May Improve Spectrum Efficiency, GAO-04-666, at 3 (May 2004), available at