NTIA's Strickling: Looking at All 95 MHz was Most Reponsible Recommendation


National Telecommunications & Information Administration chief Larry Strickling says that some government users are going to have to remain in the 95 MHZ of spectrum the group has identified for use by commercial wireless.

"We just don't have places to move the federal agencies to any longer," he said, citing the increasing government demands for spectrum as the reason for emphasizing sharing.

He pointed out that federal use is intermittent and sometimes does not involve the entire country. Strickling was being interviewed for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

Strickling said that given the opportunity to put 95 MHz of spectrum on the table, it would not have met the administration's goal of trying to free up 500 MHz had it just focused on the lower 25 MHz. The wireless industry and the FCC would probably have preferred it start with that 25 MHz since it is adjacent to a block of available commission-overseen spectrum it could have been paired with and pushed to market relatively quickly.

Strickling said going the 25 MHz route would have been an "irresponsible way to proceed" with federal agencies talking about being willing to accommodate commercial users in all 95 MHz and a goal of 500 MHz. Strickling predicted that spectrum freed up under the NTIA proposal would be available within five years.

But while some of the government users would stay in the 95 MHz, others wouldn't, according to the NTIA plan.
Strickling did not address the suggestion in its spectrum report that one DOD users would have to be relocated, with the proposal being to move electronic news gatherers out of their spectrum, spectrum they were only recently moved to due to the DTV transition.

Strickling did not comment on what the ultimate outcome for LightSquared would be, the proposed wholesale wireless broadband network, whose FCC waiver to launch the service is in the process of being rescinded after GPS interference testing and an NTIA recommendation that there was no clear path forward. He pointed out that NTIA had suggested one fix, but also conceded that involved lowering power levels to a degree that LightSquared said would not have produced a viable service.

Strickling said that NTIA would look at receiver standards for future federal agency purchases, though added that w a 5 to 15-year effort and only deals with government users, so would provide no relief for the company, which has said it could lose billions in an investment predicated on the FCC waiver.

The main issue with LightSquared was that it interfered with sensitive GPS receivers detecting out-of-band transmissions due to increased power levels for a terrestrial service. The waiver was to allow LIghtSquared's satellite spectrum to be used for terrestrial service.

Asked whether LightSquared's experience could put a damper on spectrum innovation and efficiency. Strickling said it was a unique set of circumstances, including putting a high-powered, land-based service trying to operate adjacent to a satellite band relying on much fainter signals.

Strickling did notcomment on whether the government misled LightSquared about its prospects, saying it was a question for the FCC.