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NTIA Plan to Repurpose 1755-1850MHz Band and its Challenges

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WASHINGTON April 6, 2012 – Last week the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) announced their finding that 95 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum residing in the 1755-1850 MHz band can be repurposed for commercial wireless use.  NTIA’s report was in response to a 2010 Memorandum  from the president asking the Department of Commerce through NTIA to work with the FCC to find an additional 500MHz of spectrum to be made available for commercial use in the next 10 years. NTIA then developed a ten year plan and timetable with input from the Policy Plans and Steering Group (PPSG) that identified 2200 megahertz of federal and non federal spectrum that could be used for wireless broadband use.

Last week’s report along with NTIA’s 2010  Fast Track Report to reallocate 115 megahertz of spectrum to wireless broadband would mean that the federal agencies have identified 40 percent of the spectrum needed to meet the president’s goal.

This particular swath of spectrum that NTIA targeted in its latest report is currently used by over 20 federal agencies for various law enforcement and military functions.  These federal agencies currently hold 3100 assignments within this band.

NTIA’s report states that “while there are a number of challenges to repurposing, NTIA concludes that it is still possible to repurpose all 95MHz of the band.”  These challenges are not small.  The report notes that the challenges to repurposing the band include the high cost and long timeline for reallocation as well as whether the band can be made exclusively available for commercial use.  “NTIA believes that agencies need to engage with industry to identify potential solutions, which could include partial clearing scenarios and a phased approach to commercial auctions and entry.”  In addition NTIA stresses that spectrum sharing will be vital to addressing the growing spectrum needs of the federal and non federal users.

Some of the challenges in the report are laid out in more detail below:

Comparable  Spectrum – NTIA and the FCC must first find comparable spectrum bands to maintain the similar types of federal operations occurring in the 1755-1850 MHz bands.  A number of agencies have identified other bands that can support their operations, however according to the report “further analysis may reveal other ways to provide comparable capabilities at lower transition cost, opportunity cost, and/or complexity, such as improvements in spectrum efficiency or identification of other comparable destination bands.”

Incumbent Licensees – Addressing the needs of incumbent licensees when reallocating federal agency operations is another serious concern. The report notes that sharing and additional relocation will have to be utilized to assure that relocated licensees have the proper protections for their uses in the band.

Relocation Costs – The law requires that spectrum auction costs must exceed federal reallocation costs, but given the complex scenarios for reallocation this might be a serious hurdle to overcome.

Bring Stakeholders Together – Another challenge for the NTIA and the FCC will be to bring together federal agencies and industry to encourage communication and discussion about relocation, transition and sharing opportunities.

Timing for Relocation – The report warns that “the complexity of certain federal systems and the time required to redesign and modify those systems prevents the federal agencies from moving all of their operations from this band within the next ten years.”  Due to the timing issues, the report resolves that there will be a high possibility of interference during the transition phase, and therefore further analysis must be done to come up with sharing techniques, interference mitigation techniques, and new tech solutions to prevent such interference.

Additional Regulatory Mechanisms to Implement Sharing – The reports hints at the fact that there will definitely be a need for spectrum sharing arrangement. “Sharing during the transition period and possibly thereafter will require establishment of clear regulatory mechanisms prior to any auction to ensure appropriate protection of federal operation and acknowledgment by industry of its status with respect to potential interference from federal operations.”

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

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Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

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China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.

In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.

“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.

“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.

In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies

This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”

Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.

Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.

In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.

The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.

The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”

Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.

The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.

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