Way Cleared For Large U.S. Spectrum Auction

It will cost far less than previously thought to move U.S. government agencies off of valuable portions of wireless spectrum, freeing that spectrum up for use by cellular carriers.



A government report released this week paves the way to a large-scale auction of wireless spectrum next year that will help U.S. cellular carriers expand their data and voice offerings.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said in a report that it will cost far less than initially expected to move federal government users out of the 1710-1755 MHz band of spectrum. Transitioning government users out of that portion of spectrum paves opens up that spectrum for wireless operators, which can bid for the spectrum in an auction.

“With 90 megahertz of additional spectrum, today's cellular carriers will be tomorrow's next-generation broadband providers,” Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information said in a statement. “We found a way to open up ‘beach front’ spectrum for key economic activity without jeopardizing our national security."

NTIA is a department of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Twelve U.S. agencies, including the Department of Defense, have been using the portion of spectrum in question. The findings were transmitted by the NTIA to the FCC, which manages spectrum and other wireless issues.

The report found that more than 2200 frequency assignments used by the federal agencies can be re-located for about $935 million, far less than previously expected. The cost to the government will be recovered through the auction.

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