The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved T-Mobile’s LTE spectrum sharing service with federal users in the 1755-1780 MHz band, clearing the way for tests gauging the impact of spectrum sharing in the band between government users and commercial providers to go ahead.
“By granting the first authorization of testing in the 1755-1780 MHz band, the commission hopes to facilitate commercial mobile broadband services in the band,” said FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, who added that the spectrum sharing would help in clearing and reallocation between private and public sectors, thereby addressing the nation’s spectrum challenges.
If the tests prove successful, this could see the wireless industry sharing government airwaves as part of the spectrum shortage solution that the industry is facing. The T-Mobile request was filed back in May as a special temporary test for LTE service in the spectrum. According to T-Mobile’s senior VP of government affairs, Tom Surgrue, the testing proposed would help critical understanding of operations in the band while working with equipment manufacturers and other carriers.
The critical need for additional bandwidth for commercial services and approval to test this band is an “important milestone in bringing new spectrum resources to market,” he said.
While Congress and the FCC identified and finally approved the band to be reallocated to commercial users, there remained the logistical difficulties of moving federal users off the band. It was thus deemed necessary for the wireless industry to explore spectrum sharing as an alternative.
This however, was received with wariness since the wireless industry prefers a spectrum with no incumbent users. In a report from an advisory council to the president, it was advocated for “shared use superhighways” for federal spectrum which did not take into account the exclusive use licenses benefits of reallocating the licenses to the wireless industry.
A bill proposing the 1755-1780 MHz be released from federal use and federal agencies be relocated to another block of spectrum within five years, after which it would be put up for auction, never made it past committee.
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Edited by Braden Becker