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FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for 3G Wireless Spectrum

(January 5, 2001) The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it seeks public comment to assist it in identifying and allocating spectrum for use by Third Generation wireless systems. 3G is intended to bring broadband wireless Internet access to mobile devices.

Related Documents
NPRM [PDF], 1/5/01.
FCC Release re NPRM, 1/4/01.
NTIA Release re NPRM, 1/4/01.
Transcript of Greg Rohde's Press conference on talks with government leaders in Asia re 3G wireless services, 12/12/01.
Council of Economic Advisors' report titled The Economic Impact of Third-Generation Wireless Technology [PDF], 10/20/00.
NTIA's Plan to Select Spectrum for Third Generation Wireless Systems in the United States, 10/20/00.
President Clinton's Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies regarding 3G, 10/13/00.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks comments on the "possibility of introducing new advanced mobile and fixed services in frequency bands currently used for cellular, broadband Personal Communications Service ("PCS"), and Specialized Mobile Radio ("SMR") services, as well as in five other frequency bands: 1710-1755 MHz, 1755-1850 MHz, 2110-2150 MHz, 2160-2165 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz."

The U.S. does not have very much unused spectrum to allot for 3G systems. Hence, spectrum currently allotted to the private sector or government entities for other purposes will have to be reallocated.

The NPRM states that "with the exponential growth of the Internet, an additional allocation of spectrum is likely necessary to support anticipated demand for consumer mobile data services. Wireless providers in the United States and elsewhere have begun to offer mobile data services, such as Internet access electronic mail, and short messaging service. Although the anticipated increased demand for new data services, as well as expected continued increases in mobile telephone service, may be met in part by the introduction of new technologies and continued spectrum management policies, we recognize that additional spectrum may be needed to meet these new and increased demands."

The NPRM adds that "We are proposing a flexible allocation approach for the provision of advanced wireless services, such as IMT-2000 or 3G systems. ... a flexible allocation approach will allow licensees freedom in determining the services to be offered and the technologies to be used in providing those services."

More specifically, the NPRM:

  • proposes to allocate for mobile and fixed services the 1710-1755 MHz band,
  • seeks comment on providing mobile and fixed service allocations for the 1755-1850 MHz band, if spectrum in the band is made available for non-Federal Government use,
  • proposes to designate advanced mobile and fixed service use of the 2110- 2150 MHz and 2160-2165 MHz bands that are currently used for a variety of fixed and mobile services and that were identified for reallocation under the Commission's 1992 Emerging Technologies proceeding (ET Docket No. 92-9), and
  • seeks comment on various approaches for the 2500-2690 MHz band, which is currently used for Multichannel Multipoint Distribution and Instructional Television Fixed Services.
Greg Rohde

Gregory Rohde, who is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, and the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), commended the FCC. "This NPRM marks the passage of another important step to advance broadband wireless services in the United States." Rohde added that "Because of the cooperation between government agencies such as the Commerce and Defense Departments with the FCC, the Administration is well on its way to meeting its goals to develop a spectrum plan for 3G and to continue its assessment on candidate bands for possible future allocation. Future progress will require active involvement of industry and consumers will be necessary to make this a successful effort."

"Comments on the NPRM will help us determine to what extent existing allocations can be used for advanced wireless services such as 3G; assess whether additional spectrum allocations will be necessary and if so, how to meet the needs of incumbent users that will be replaced."

Rohde also stated that "the United States has to move aggressively to develop 3rd generation wireless if we want to be a first-class nation with respect to telecommunications and electronic commerce. I deeply hope that we will be able to meet our goal of issuing a final order by July 2001. The stakes are nothing less than our international competitiveness in electronic commerce and being a world leader in communications services."

Comments are due within 30 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due with 45 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. The NPRM has not yet been published in the Federal Register.

This proceeding is being conducted by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology. See, ET Docket No. 00-258.

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