Largent Still Looking for Government Spectrum


CTIA: The Wireless Association President Steve Largent said Tuesday he is concerned with the silence out of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration about government spectrum that can be freed up for wireless broadband.

At a Free State Foundation event in Washington, Largent was asked to comment on how quickly the FCC should be able to auction broadcast spectrum for wireless. He said he thought the FCC could probably move a little faster, but said he would rather talk about the government spectrum he was "still looking for."

Largent expressed concerned that there was "nobody out there identifying spectrum for the next auction." He said that if the government was looking for 500 MHz of spectrum over the next 10 years, there was the first piece of spectrum from the broadcast space -- the FCC initially was looking for 120 MHz but it is looking more like 80 with the protections for states on the Mexican and Canadian borders.

"We're knocking on the door and saying: 'Government, where is the other spectrum available?' And we're hearing silence." He pointed out that was the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's issue, not the FCC's.

 A spokesperson pointed out that the NTIA had identified at least 115 Mhz of government spectrum that could be freed, was continuing to review 2200 Mhz of spectrum on a rolling basis, and would come up with its next recommendations -- for the 1755-1850 band -- within the next few weeks.

According to NTIA, the 1755 MHz band is used by DOD, Federal law enforcement and other agencies for satellite, surveillance, aeronautical operations, fixed microwave and other operations.

At the same discussion, FCC Wireless Bureau chief Rick Kaplan was asked about that 500 MHz target and whether that would be enough. He said the bureau was not engaged in constantly readjusting the figure.

"If you are constantly updating what your goal is you're wasting time," he said.

Kaplan said his staff meets almost daily on the issue as it fights to get every MHz it can "from those not using it most efficiently."
Verizon executive vice president Tom Tauke said that if the government was not looking further down the road, at least 25 years ahead, and at larger numbers, like where they would find, 750 MHz, for example, they ought to be. He said Congress and NTIA should all be thinking about goals. He said if they aren't thinking about where to find that 750 or so in play over the next 10-12 years, "we're going to managing spectrum shortages instead of being in a position to have robust competition in the marketplace. Without that spectrum in the marketplace, he said, "you will have unhappy consumers who are paying more for less services because you are managing scarcity and the government will come in and try to regulate the whole thing."