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11/17/2009
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CTIA Seeks More Mobile Broadband Spectrum

The mobile industry group said spectrum below 3 GHz should be reallocated for mobile data purposes.

The CTIA trade group told the Federal Communications Commission it should consider allocating all spectrum under 3 GHz for mobile broadband usage.

In a letter to the FCC, the mobile industry trade group said this spectrum is currently being used in an inefficient manner, and it could be used to speed up the deployment of the next generation of mobile broadband based on WiMax or Long-Term Evolution.

"Without significant additional allocations of licensed commercial wireless spectrum and the right spectrum policies, U.S. consumers and businesses will find themselves unable to reap the full benefits of the mobile broadband age," CTIA said in a letter. "Any spectrum usage below 3 GHz that has not been licensed in an exclusive, flexible fashion for commercial wireless spectrum should be investigated for potential mobile broadband usage."

The group is targeting these frequencies because they allow for improved coverage and penetration for cell sites, and require less power than spectrum in a higher frequency. Additionally, the CTIA argues this will put the U.S. industry in line with many international spectrum allotments, which will lower the cost of equipment and could lead to faster deployments.

The move has the potential to ruffle some feathers though, as the targeted spectrum is currently being used by broadcasters, mobile satellite services, and the fixed microwave industry. The group suggests higher spectrum could be repurposed for those industries that are displaced.

The letter comes as FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said there is a "looming spectrum crisis" thanks to the increase of data-hungry devices like Apple's iPhone and the proliferation of smartphones like the BlackBerry. Consumers are expected to continue to have higher mobile broadband needs, as Motorola said nearly 40 million consumers actively use mobile Internet services, a 75% increase from just two years ago.

The FCC is currently seeking industry feedback about spectrum needs as it crafts a national broadband plan.


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