FCC, NTIA leaders talk spectrum sharing at New America event

In late September the Department of Defense (DoD) submitted its long-awaited (20-month) report to the Department of Commerce (DoC) on the feasibility of spectrum sharing in the mid-band, including in the 3.1-3.45 GHz. But DoC has not yet released the report to the public.

According to a story in Axios, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) says the Pentagon has found that sharing in the lower 3 GHz with telecom companies cannot be done at this time. But Rounds’ comments have not been verified by either DoD or DoC.

Yesterday, at a New America Open Technology Institute event, Jonathan Campbell, legal advisor for Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, talked about spectrum sharing.

In terms of the lower 3 GHz, he said “We are ready to fulfill our obligation of moving forward with an auction for any of the spectrum that is identified through the Department of Commerce report and continuing to collaborate with our federal partners.”

Of course, the FCC doesn’t even have auction authority right now. And the DoD’s report could have something to do with that.

Campbell went on to talk about spectrum sharing more generally.

“There’s a limited amount of greenfield spectrum out there and ever increasing demands for spectrum,” he said. “So, it’s important to look at any way spectrum can be shared effectively.”

Currently, the FCC is examining spectrum sharing in the 42 GHz mmWave band. Campbell said, “That’s 500 MHz of greenfield spectrum with no federal or commercial incumbents. We wanted to throw out some ideas about how we could explore non-exclusive access models to give some innovators access to mmWave spectrum. Our goal is to come up with a new model that lowers barriers to entry.”

He also talked about 12 GHz spectrum, saying the FCC is “looking at a variety of different uses, from licensed fixed and mobile to unlicensed.”

And in terms of 6 GHz unlicensed, Campbell said, “We’re making sure that Wi-Fi is not going to be the bottleneck. Our automated frequency coordination system testing is underway. That’s going to provide folks with access to standard power unlicensed in that band, which could be a game changer. Big channels can fit in there.”

NTIA spectrum strategy

Also at yesterday’s New America event, Scott Harris, senior spectrum advisor and director of National Spectrum Strategy at NTIA, said NTIA is in the final stages of developing a national spectrum strategy to serve as a policy blueprint for spectrum management going forward.

“A lot of attention and speculation is focused on the particular bands we may identify for studying for potential repurposing,” said Harris. “But we hope folks will focus on other parts of the strategy as well. While I can’t go into detail quite yet. We’ve been clear that new technology, particularly technology that advances dynamic spectrum sharing is going to become more important over time.”

Harris also called out the NTIA’s Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC) platform, which is a digital system by which DOD could securely inform the system access administrators directly of its intentions to use certain frequencies.