WASHINGTON In an interim report replete with qualifiers, regulators said "limited sharing" of government-controlled broadcast spectrum is possible for third-generation (3G) wireless services.
In a technical study issued Friday (March 30) on accommodating 3G wireless systems in the United States, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce tentatively concluded that commercial and government users might be able to share the disputed spectrum between the 1,710- to 1,850-MHz band "under certain conditions that will be explored further."
"This report indicates that certain sharing and segmentation options may be possible in the 1,710- to 1,850-MHz band," said John Sopko, acting assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information.
The spectrum at issue is currently controlled by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. The agencies are resisting efforts to share or move from the spectrum so that it can be used for 3G wireless and other mobile applications.
The Federal Communications Commission is currently at work on a companion study on other prospective 3G wireless spectrum currently occupied by educational institutions and multipoint distribution systems.
The NTIA study also concluded that "unrestricted sharing of allocated spectrum by third-generation wireless systems and existing federal government users will not be possible." The agency left open the possibility that "certain viable sharing and segmentation options exist" if critical DOD communications can be protected from interference by 3G operators, if funds can be found to relocate some government users to other spectrum and if spectrum at appropriate frequencies is available to move them.
NTIA's report is far from the last word in the bureaucratic struggle to find spectrum for 3G services in the United States. The FCC is scheduled to decide in July what spectrum will be allocated for 3G wireless systems. The military is expected to strongly resist attempts to move it from spectrum it now controls on national security grounds. DOD officials said they need the spectrum to assure secure communications with forces deployed around the world.