NTIA outlines plan to free spectrum for wireless broadband

The NTIA has developed a 10-year plan to free up spectrum as well as a fast-track evaluation that recommends bands of airwaves that might be available within five years. The latter recommends reallocating 115 MHz of spectrum currently used by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Pentagon for radar systems and weather information.

"Today’s announcement is a significant down payment towards realizing" President Obama's goal of freeing 500 MHz of spectrum, said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. "NTIA will continue to work with the FCC and other U.S. agencies to make the full 500 MHz of spectrum available while protecting vital government uses.”

The 10-year plan identifies 2,200 MHz of spectrum for evaluation. Of the airwaves up for review, 28 percent is currently used only by federal agencies, while 35 percent is allocated for commercial use. The two groups share the remaining 37 percent.

The wireless industry called the move "just a start" and said the NTIA must focus on bands of spectrum below 3 GHz to deliver robust mobile broadband.

“By making spectrum available for auction, the federal government will enable the wireless industry to continue to invest billions of dollars to purchase the licensed spectrum and billions more to build and upgrade the networks that fuel our ‘virtuous cycle’ of innovation," said CTIA-The Wireless Association president Steve Largent.