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Spectrum

FCC, NTIA Commit to Teaming Up on Spectrum Strategy and Coordination

Announcement comes after a Republican lawmaker urging agencies to reaffirm partnership on spectrum policy and coordination.

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Photo of Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

WASHINGTON, February 15, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to coordinate on spectrum policy uses for federal and private users.

The Spectrum Coordination Initiative, as it’s called, is intended to make more robust an existing cooperative framework between the two agencies that manage federal spectrum resources. It includes adding formal and regular monthly meetings on spectrum planning, collaborating on a national spectrum strategy, committing to evidence-based policymaking, engaging with industry on technical information exchange and engagement, and updating a decades-old memorandum of understanding between both agencies.

“The FCC and NTIA have an opportunity today to build a common vision for spectrum management and coordination that serves federal users, private actors, and the American people,” said Alan Davidson, head of the NTIA, in a Tuesday press release.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel added in the release that, “Now more than ever we need a whole-of-government approach to spectrum policy. Over the past few years we’ve seen the cost of not having one—and we need a non-stop effort to fix that.”

The announcement comes after Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, sent a letter on January 13 to Rosenworcel and Davidson urging them to firm up their relationship on matters related to the shared use of radiowaves between federal and non-federal users by updated a memorandum of understanding last updated in 2003, citing disputes over spectrum allocation.

The move is the latest by the freshly installed head of the NTIA, who was confirmed by the Senate as head of the Commerce agency in January, and it comes on the heels of a conflict between the Federal Aviation Administration and the telecommunications industry.

Earlier this year, AT&T and Verizon were forced to postpone turning on 5G services around airports because the FAA was concerned that radiofrequencies used by those services in the C-band spectrum would interfere with nearby wavelengths in altimeters used by planes to land safely.

During a hearing in front of the House transportation committee earlier this month, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson attribution the situation to a lack of “early, open data exchange” of information about possible interference scenarios, while the president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association said conversation needed to begin earlier to avoid the conflict.

Some observers at the Consumer Electronics Show at the start of the year noted the lack of federal coordination as the problem in the aviation deadlock, with one noting that Alan Davidson’s confirmation by the Senate to lead the NTIA – which came later – would help resolve the coordination issues.

In September, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California, introduced the Spectrum Innovation Act, which would make available additional slices of the 3.1 to 3.45 Gigahertz spectrum for non-federal, shared federal and non-federal use.

The Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November, includes provisions that give federal officials the ability to seek out spectrum frequencies for federal use.

Assistant Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site downup.io to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet

Spectrum

Rosenworcel Proposes Funding Infrastructure and 911 Transition with Spectrum Auction Money

The FCC’s chairwoman spoke on the future of spectrum during a Tuesday CTIA event on 5G’s climate impacts.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel by T.J. York

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Tuesday proposed using funds raised in upcoming spectrum auctions held by the commission to fund infrastructure projects and the transition to a next-generation 911 system.

The proposal came as part of a list of potential future areas of focus on spectrum from the commission during Rosenworcel’s session at wireless trade association CTIA’s 2022 5G Summit focusing on 5G’s impacts on climate.

Rosenworcel has stated in the past that she would like spectrum auction proceeds to go towards updating the national 911 system.

Proposed upgrades include allowing 911 callers to send first responders photos, videos and text messages rather than just calls. A bill also exists in Congress to upgrade 911, the Next-Generation 911 Act, authorizing federal grants to go towards the upgrades.

In March the FCC announced that in July it would auction 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G services.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also speaking at Tuesday’s event, added to the calls for upgrades to the national 911 system.

Rosenworcel also spoke about the possibility of legislation targeting mid-band spectrum and development of next-gen wireless networks, work on updates to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act that governs allocation of spectrum to the commercial sector, as well as a greater focus on receiver performance and procurement practices rather than just examining transmitters.

She emphasized that the commission is always actively working on spectrum policy through the Affordable Connectivity Program, the freeing up of spectrum with a particular focus on mid band, advocating for a national spectrum plan, and broadband data collection via the provisions of the Broadband DATA Act. She stated that the commission is actively involved with National Telecommunications and Information Administration head Alan Davidson on freeing up spectrum.

Additional speakers at Tuesday’s event included director of the White House’s National Economic Council Brian Deese, who noted that in the coming weeks and months there will be many more announcements on broadband funding from the administration on money to come from new and existing sources, and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.

Guthrie voiced frustration with government agencies not designated authority on spectrum over the role they took in public debates on spectrum policy, largely related to the Federal Aviation Administration’s influence over cellular providers to make concessions on their rollout of 5G over safety concerns earlier this year.

“And we must always continue to address inter-agency coordination issues,” said Guthrie.

He stated the necessity of these agencies communicating concerns to the NTIA and FCC rather than directly involving themselves in policy discussions.

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Spectrum

In a Move to Aid Spectrum Efficiency, FCC Begins Inquiry on Receiver Interference Standards

The FCC makes advancements towards more efficient spectrum use throughout the country.

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Photo of Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Kathleen Burke from the advocacy group

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 — The Federal Communication Commission on Thursday voted to press forward on a proceeding designed to make spectrum transmissions in the United States much more efficient.

“By enabling more efficient use will facilitate the introduction of new and innovative wireless services that will benefit the American public,” said Paul Murray, associate chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC, who introduced an inquiry titled, “Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum through Improved Receiver Interference Immunity Performance.”

Receiver interference immunity performance refers to the ability of a radiofrequency receiver (as opposed to a transmitter) to reject interference. Typically, the agency focuses its rules on the transmitter side of radio systems.

But, the FCC said, “receivers and receiver interference immunity performance play an increasingly critical role in enabling more efficient spectrum use,” age agency noted in its fact sheet circulated prior to the meeting.

In it, the FCC highlighted how, increasingly, “the receiver interference immunity performance associated with incumbent services operating in spectral proximity to new users or services has been a major consideration.”

For example, the ability of incumbent service receivers to reject signals outside their intended band has been relevant to the timing and scope of the introduction of new services, such as the Ligado and the 3.7 GigaHertz (GHz) band proceedings, the agency noted. There, the FCC adopted operating conditions and rules to enable the introduction of new operations into frequency bands with various incumbent users operating under different service allocations in the same band, adjacent band, or other spectrally proximate frequency bands.

“If our telecommunications system is going to meet the modern needs of our nation, every aspect needs to operate efficiently,” said Kathleen Burke, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. She endorsed the agency’s beginning the proceeding.

Emergency alerts strengthened

During the meeting the commission also approved for the public to comment on proposals that will strengthen wireless emergency alerts. “This pandemic has made crystal clear how important it is to have good data in an emergency.   Accurate information is essential if we want to know what we need to do next.  That is also true with Wireless Emergency Alerts.  If we want to know where to go with this system next, we need to better understand it. That is why today we seek comments on how we can develop better data about the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Rosenworcel also that Chief of Staff Travis Litman will be leaving the office and will be replaced by Narda Jones.

“We also welcome the uncommonly talented Narda Jones to the agency. She’s my new chief of staff,” Rosenworcel said. She comes to us from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.”

The FCC’s next Open Commission Meeting will be held on May 19.

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Spectrum

FCC Will Auction Slices of Mid-Band 2.5 GHz Spectrum for 5G in Late July

The slices of 2.5 GHz mid-band will be licenses for flexible use, including for 5G.

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Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel
Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel in 2018

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it will hold an auction of 2.5 GHz band licenses for 5G wireless services on July 29, 2022.

The FCC said in a press release it has adopted application and bidding procedures for a slice of the band, which will be licensed on a flexible-use basis following “substantial public comment on various process proposals under consideration.”

During her speech to Mobile World Congress, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “this is the single largest swath of contiguous mid-band spectrum we have below 3 gigahertz and the airwaves available in this auction are going to help extend 5G service beyond our most populated areas.”

In the same announcement, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics announced the launch of a mapping tool that can be used to help assess whether and to what extent there is unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum available in any county nationwide.

The FCC is simultaneously working on improving mapping to determine areas without adequate coverage. Expert witnesses discussed the lack of accurate broadband maps and the importance of crowdsourcing for accurate maps during a congressional hearing about 5G and the future in wireless technologies on Thursday.

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