Like a climb up Mount Everest, finding new spectrum allocations for commercial wireless broadband use is extremely challenging. Those who have spectrum want to keep it, and the low hanging fruit has already been allocated…base camp has been reached.
The President, Congress and the FCC have all made it clear that additional spectrum is necessary to meet consumers’ increasing wireless broadband needs. Indeed, growth in data is exploding, with traffic nearly tripling in 2010. While carriers continue to invest heavily to add capacity, new spectrum is critical to reaping the full benefits of wireless broadband.
Earlier this week, the NTIA provided much needed support by announcing that it will conduct a detailed analysis of the 1755-1850 MHz band as its next step in evaluating government spectrum holdings for potential repurposing for commercial broadband use.
This is great news as this band is very appealing for a number of reasons.
First, it is a large band size – 95 MHz. Why is this important? It can support a number of large blocks that can accommodate multiple providers. Large blocks allow for higher peak data rates for the provision of wireless broadband services.
Second, it is contiguous to existing commercial wireless broadband bands – AWS 1 as well as PCS. This provides for efficiencies in the Radio Access Network and in the devices by allowing for the sharing of radio frequency modules, and it reduces handset complexities.
Third, it is internationally harmonized, which makes international roaming easier. It also minimizes the device cost, complexity and form factor, all while allowing for equipment manufacturers to realize economies of scale driving down overall handset costs.
Finally, it is in the sweet spot for deployment of wireless broadband services – below 3 GHz with good propagation characteristics and the ability to provide much needed capacity.
While we are still a long way off from reaching the summit, we are very encouraged by NTIA’s commitment to unleash this valuable resource and to take the helm as we continue our ascent.