US government approves the auction of additional wireless spectrum

Spectrum currently used by TV broadcasters will provide more bandwidth for mobile operators to meet rising demand for mobile broadband, while first responders will get $7bn in federal grant from the auction proceeds and the use of the 700MHz D Block for a dedicated LTE network

US government approves the auction of additional wireless spectrum

A bill passed by the US House of Representatives and the Senate on Friday 17 February will free up spectrum currently used by TV broadcasters for use by wireless operators. The legislation will allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction the spectrum for commercial use.

However, a block of 10MHz will be set aside to provide a nationwide LTE network for use by the emergency services. This will be backed by a $7bn federal grant derived from the proceeds of the auction. The 10MHz in the so-called  ‘D-Block’ in the 700MHz band is immediately adjacent to the 10MHz already allocated to the emergency services, thereby providing 20MHz of contiguous spectrum for the proposed LTE network.

The new policy is designed to provide additional spectrum for commercial wireless operators through FCC controlled auctions is an additional measure within the main bill which will extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

The emergency services in the US have lobbied hard to get the D Block added to the 10MHz of spectrum already licensed to them by the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST). However, in allocating the D Block to first responders, the bill now calls for them to return spectrum in the T-Band (470MHz-512MHz), which has to go back to the government in nine to 11 years. The public safety community will however be permitted to keep its 700MHz narrowband spectrum.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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