Federal Communications Commission

Spectrum Task Force Category

Spectrum Task Force Update

September 9th, 2010 by Julius Knapp - Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

In creating a strategy for the utilization and allocation of spectrum in Chapter 5 of the National Broadband Plan, we laid out our initial strategic spectrum plan.  We have since moved forward with the important work of the Spectrum Task Force.  As Chairman Genachowski previously announced earlier this year, the Spectrum Task Force has been launched to execute the spectrum recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, including long term spectrum planning.  Armed with our directives to advance the Commission’s spectrum agenda, as well as to promote collaboration across the agency, the work of the Spectrum Task Force is now well underway, with participation from the Chiefs and expert staff of the Bureaus and Offices, including Enforcement, International, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Media, and Strategic Planning and Policy.

As Chairman Genachowski emphasized, given that spectrum is one of our country’s most important assets, we will need to pursue policies to promote greater spectrum efficiency and flexibility, in addition to ensuring sufficient spectrum for broadband.  In order to achieve these goals, we are working closely with our colleagues at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  In particular, we are supporting NTIA’s efforts to identify spectrum that might be made available on a fast track basis and to develop a longer term plan to make spectrum available for wireless broadband over the next 10 years.

The National Broadband Plan called for the FCC to maintain an ongoing strategic spectrum plan including a triennial assessment of spectrum allocations.  The National Broadband Plan was effectively the first strategic plan and the first triennial assessment will be conducted in three years.  We are laying the foundation for this project through our work on the spectrum dashboard, which will provide greater transparency concerning spectrum allocation and utilization.  In conjunction with NTIA, we have also begun work to develop accurate spectrum measurement and monitoring methods.

The Commission is continuing to make great progress towards achieving the goal of making available an additional 300 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband by 2015, and 500 MHz by 2020.  At the May agenda meeting, the Commission adopted an order on WCS-SDARS, making 25 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband services.  At the July agenda meeting, the Commission proposed to provide additional flexibility in the rules for the Mobile Satellite Service to account for another 90 MHz of spectrum that could be used for terrestrial wireless broadband service.

Work is also continuing on other spectrum-related recommendations in the National Broadband Plan.  For example, in late June we held an engineering workshop on innovation in the TV bands.   We are also reviewing the recommendation that the Commission create new opportunities for innovative spectrum access models, including opportunistic use.

In the coming weeks, we will share updates regarding the Spectrum Task Force’s progress in implementing the National Broadband Plan’s spectrum agenda.  Please continue to follow Spectrum Task Force blog posts for new information.

Looking Under the Hood: Technical Paper on Options for Broadcast Spectrum

June 14th, 2010 by Julius Knapp - Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

The National Broadband Plan stresses that mobile broadband networks, devices, and applications are a critical component of our country’s broadband infrastructure and our economy. It recommends that the FCC repurpose spectrum from several bands to make it available for flexible use, including mobile broadband use. This recommendation includes repurposing 120 megahertz from the broadcast television bands. These bands are attractive due to strong propagation characteristics and relatively low average market value under their current uses compared to recently auctioned flexible use spectrum with similar characteristics.

Today we are releasing an Omnibus Broadband Team Technical Paper called Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadcast Spectrum that provides further details on the technical analyses that support the recommendations in the National Broadband Plan relative to repurposing the TV broadcast spectrum.  We cannot emphasize strongly enough two critical points that are the cornerstones of the paper.  First, any contributions of spectrum by TV broadcasters to an incentive auction will be voluntary.  Second, consumers will continue to have access to free over-the-air TV broadcasting service and every effort will be made to minimize any losses of service due to repacking of the TV broadcast band.  

This paper presents several new analyses and methodologies that are worth pointing out:

•    The paper offers more detail on how an incentive auction might work. 

•    It presents the first, in-depth analysis and publication by the FCC of actual bandwidth requirements of various video streams.  The analysis provides data to support the assertion that two television stations could voluntarily share a single six-megahertz channel and continue to broadcast their primary video streams in HD.

•    It provides an initial look at a new TV allotment optimization model being developed by the FCC. This model will help to maximize the efficiency and collective benefits of broadcast TV and broadband services in the band.  For example, it will allow the FCC to optimize channel assignments to achieve various objectives within given constraints, such as minimizing disruption to over-the-air television viewers.

This paper represents the start of the process – not the conclusion.   It offers provocative ideas that deserve to be fully vetted and considered.  That is why Chairman Genachowski asked the Commission staff to hold the Broadcast Engineering Forum.  We look forward to a constructive and robust dialogue with TV broadcasters and other interested parties. 

It is entirely possible, and perhaps even likely, that the best ideas on how to repurpose TV broadcast spectrum are yet to be developed or put forward.   We invite readers to comment on the technical paper through this blog and to participate in forthcoming rulemaking proceedings, offering comments and alternatives that can help lead to the best policy decisions for our country. 

Click here to download a pdf of the Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadcast Spectrum.

Spectrum Task Force Poised to Drive the Implementation of the National Broadband Plan’s Spectrum Agenda

April 26th, 2010 by Julius Knapp - Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

 By Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, and Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

Last month, the Commission unveiled goals for its part in a more efficient, effective and creative America - one where our entire broadband ecosystem of networks, devices, content and applications is resilient and flourishing.  Spectrum access, innovation and deployment play such a fundamental role in how we get there.

The promise of mobile broadband hinges on the availability of spectrum.  And the growing demand for spectrum is not simply a matter of making sure we meet the communications needs of the some 275 million cell phone users in the United States.  It’s about innovative devices like smart phones and wireless tablets that put the world’s wealth of information right at our fingertips.  It’s about new apps that keep us connected with our family and friends and enrich our lives.  It’s about improving our energy efficiency through the Smart Grid.  It’s about improving our health and reducing costs through new age wireless mobile medical devices that allow a patient’s heart rate to be monitored continuously and gives diabetics real-time glucose monitoring and insulin delivery.  It’s about our future.

The breadth of innovative spectrum-based applications and services that can improve the quality of life for Americans and U.S. Global competitiveness is remarkable and we have only just begun to tap into the boundless power of our imaginations.  So it’s not surprising that the National Broadband Plan (NBP) recognizes spectrum policy as the most important government tool to promote wireless and mobile broadband. 

Chairman Genachowski has asked us to chair a Spectrum Task Force, composed of the leaders of the offices and bureaus that deal with spectrum: the Enforcement, International, Media and Public Safety Bureaus, and the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, along with the Office of Engineering and Technology and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.  Job #1 for the Spectrum Task Force is to drive the implementation of the spectrum recommendations in the NBP. 

We’ve already received some great feedback about the BETA launch of the Spectrum Dashboard, and we’ll be making changes on a rolling basis.  So keep that feedback coming, and we’ll keep you posted on our progress in implementing the other recommendations of the NBP.

For more information on the upcoming work of the Spectrum Task Force, be sure to check out

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