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NTIA and the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology Jointly Seeking Input on “Model City” to Explore Spectrum Sharing

July 11, 2014

Building on Administration efforts to make more spectrum available for commercial mobile broadband, NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) today issued a Joint Public Notice seeking comment on the possibility of establishing a “Model City” for demonstrating and evaluating advanced spectrum sharing technologies.

America’s future competitiveness, national security, and global technology leadership depend on access to radio spectrum – the lifeblood of smartphones, tablets, and critical federal government systems. Because spectrum is a finite resource, federal agencies and commercial entities together must explore new spectrum-sharing opportunities to meet the exploding demand.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in 2012 issued a groundbreaking report that made recommendations on how to realize the full potential of government-held spectrum by facilitating spectrum sharing. The report concluded that clearing and reallocating federal spectrum is no longer a sustainable basis for spectrum policy due to the high cost, lengthy time to implement, and disruption to the federal mission. To bridge the gap from today’s spectrum use model to a new regime, the PCAST report said that real-world testing of dynamic sharing principles and technologies is necessary. Therefore, one of the PCAST’s recommendations was to create an urban test city environment. Through the Joint Public Notice, NTIA and OET seek to promote this Model City concept.

NTIA and OET are seeking comment on the PCAST’s proposal and on ways to establish, fund, and conduct the Model City program, including next steps that NTIA and the FCC could take to develop specific approaches for effectively demonstrating and evaluating sharing technologies in real-world environments.

The new Center for Advanced Communications (CAC), established by NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), also part of the U.S. Commerce Department, would be a potential vehicle to advance the Model City concept. A core function of the CAC is to promote interdisciplinary research, development, and testing of spectrum sharing technologies. The Joint Public Notice seeks comment on the potential role of the CAC in managing the activities within one or more Model Cities. 

The Administration, NTIA, and the FCC have launched several other initiatives to facilitate research, development, testing, and evaluation of spectrum-sharing technologies. These include the following:

  • The President issued a Memorandum on “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation” in June 2013.
  • NTIA and NIST held an Innovative Spectrum Sharing Technology Day Event in November 2013.
  • NTIA, NIST, and the National Science Foundation, with support from the National Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program, formed in late 2010 the Wireless Spectrum Research and Development (WSRD) Senior Steering Group to coordinate spectrum-related research and development activities and launched a Testing Facility Portal at and
  • NTIA’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) in May 2012 formed several working groups focused on how to better enable spectrum sharing between federal and non-federal users.
  • NTIA received stakeholder input in October 2013 in response to a Notice of Inquiry on establishing a spectrum monitoring pilot program and has begun implementation of the pilot.
  • The FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC) created a working group to study advanced sharing of federal and non-federal spectrum bands and enabling wireless technologies.
  • The FCC in January 2013 modified its experimental licensing rules to provide a more flexible framework to keep pace with the speed of modern technological change, including advanced spectrum sharing concepts.

To view the Joint Public Notice and for instructions on how to submit a comment, please visit