Sharing the spectrum


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The Gadget Guy reviews the latest technology for the government and explores related trends and hot topics.

The radio spectrum has only become more and more crowded over the last few years. Anyone who looks at the charts issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration can see that. When broadcast radio and television first became regulated, the spectrum was practically wide open. But then, in their time, came cellphones, global positioning satellites and wireless networking (Wi-Fi), each of which squeezed themselves into a range of frequencies between everything else.

With higher-bandwidth cellular data networks and gigabit Wi-Fi on the horizon, the level of crowding will only get worse. Unless some miracle technology comes along to make higher frequencies useful at long distances, we are all just going to have to learn to share more effectively.

In a recent memo, the Office of the President of the United States is calling for just that. Titled “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation,” it defines how our government needs to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available to both government and industry. To get this going, they are forming a Spectrum Policy Team co-chaired by the chief technology officer and the director of the National Economic Council. This team is supposed to monitor and support advances in spectrum-sharing policies and technologies.

The memo also talks about efforts NTIA has made in negotiating with agencies to get them to share relinquish some of their bandwidth. Of particular note is the administration’s work in the 1695-1710 MHz band (used for meteorological satellites), the 1755-1850 MHz band (used by the Defense Department for satellites) , and the 5350-5470 and 5850-5925 MHz bands (used for a variety of things including aeronautical radionavigation and radiolocation). NTIA has been working hard to make parts of these and other bands available for commercial use where possible.

The memo also covers areas such as the creation of guidelines for purchasing spectrum-dependent devices. Also called for is the stricter policing of agency acquisitions of spectrum, especially in the 400 MHz to 6 GHz range. This “sweet spot” includes many types of satellite communications, as well as broadcast television. Another section encourages the Federal Communications Commission to implement wireless broadband deployments as rapidly as possible.

Hopefully, the agencies will be able to comply with the president’s wishes and help make more room for all of us in the spectrum.

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Agencies, Commentary, Departments, Federal Communications Commission, Gadget Guy, Government IT News, Guest Columns, Lifestyle, NTIA, spectrum, White House
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