By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Wednesday is launching an effort to identify significant wireless spectrum that can be repurposed for advanced technology needs and soaring U.S. wireless demand.
The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is developing a National Spectrum Strategy with a goal to identify at least 1,500 megahertz of spectrum to study for potential new uses.
“Today spectrum plays a central role in American life in a way that it never did before, from cellphones to aviation safety to weather prediction,” NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson said in an interview with Reuters.
He said the 1,600 megahertz goal over a decade was achievable but difficult.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said NTIA, which jointly manages U.S. spectrum with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), is seeking public input to identify “new spectrum bands for potential repurposing that will spur competition and innovation for years to come.”
The strategy will address current and future spectrum needs, including fixed and mobile wireless broadband, next-generation satellite communications and other space-based systems; advanced transportation; and industrial and commercial applications.
It will also address wireless medical devices and telemedicine, the Internet of Things and smart cities, and key government uses including national defense, national airspace, critical infrastructure and climate monitoring and forecasting, Davidson said.
Congress last week let the FCC’s authority to auction wireless spectrum lapse for the first time in three decades, prompting some lawmakers to quickly restore the authority that has raised more than $200 billion in proceeds for the U.S. government.
Demand for spectrum use is soaring as are planned new uses like connected vehicles. Mobile U.S. wireless data traffic rose 20% in 2021.
Davidson said a contentious dispute over 5G C-Band spectrum and aviation use showed industry and government recognize “we need a coordinated approach” to managing current and future spectrum use.
“We’ve got 6G networks coming, new mega-constellations of satellites, connected automobiles, the internet of things – all of that demands new uses of spectrum,” Davidson said.