The wireless industry has scored a victory in its battle to get the government to relinquish some of the spectrum it controls to launch advanced wireless services in the United States.
The wireless industry has been battling for months now over spectrum in the 1710 to 1855 MHz bands and 2520 to 2670 MHz bands, which for some time has been allocated to government and educational users. Trying to avert incompatibility, then-President Clinton laid out a plan to identify spectrum where those users could be moved so that licenses could be resold by Sept. 30.
Current spectrum owners, especially the Department of Defense, spoke out against the president's suggestion, citing national security issues as well as high costs involved with moving current applications to a new spectrum.
In October, The FCC, the Department of Defense, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and other agencies said they would assess whether the 1710–1770 MHz and 2110–2170 MHz bands could be used for 3G broadband mobile wireless services, among others.
After review, the government has decided to compromise, giving up 90 MHz — 45 MHz from the 1710–1755 MHz band and 45 MHz from the 2110–2170 MHz band. The wireless industry will use the spectrum to roll out advanced services such as streaming video and high-speed Internet access on wireless devices.
The spectrum is expected to be vacated by 2008, with the government transferring to other frequencies it already uses. The wireless company's that purchase the rights to the frequencies will pay for the transfer.
The Department of Defense, once strongly opposed to the transfer of any spectrum to the private sector, now supports the plan. "DoD believes that implementing the 3G plan with (neither) degrade military capabilities nor harm national security interests," said Steven Price, deputy assistant secretary of defense for spectrum, space, sensors and command, control and communications policy.
"This plan promotes our country's economic growth while protecting national security and public safety," said Don Evans, Commerce Secretary.