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NTIA Report Finds Viable Options for Spectrum Sharing in 3450-3550 MHz Band

Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

Spectrum sharing strategies hold great promise for meeting the growing needs of commercial and federal users.  This is an area of intense study at NTIA as we seek to protect critical federal missions while enabling new commercial opportunities. As part of an assessment conducted with the Department of Defense, we are happy to announce significant progress in finding potential spectrum sharing options for the 3450-3550 MHz band, as outlined in a new technical report.

Federal operations in the 3450-3550 MHz band include shipborne, airborne, and land-based systems — primarily radars. Our report points to a clear possibility for real time spectrum sharing that would protect these critical missions, while providing attractive opportunities for commercial business. The report analyzes the potential for these federal systems to share spectrum with outdoor base stations, indoor access points, and mobile user equipment.

The report assesses two hypothetical commercial deployments, operating at various power levels, which industry has said would be desirable. The next step would be to study how often each of the federal systems actually is used, and then develop mechanisms for reliably informing commercial operations when federal systems are operating nearby.

This 100 MHz of spectrum should be well suited for realizing 5G’s promise of higher throughput and lower latency operations. The band could be a valuable resource for commercial deployment, given its position adjacent to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum at 3550-3650 MHz where widespread new deployments are expected soon.

NTIA selected the 3450-3550 MHz band for study as part of its ongoing effort to identify federal spectrum for potential repurposing, either by relocating federal users or sharing the spectrum with commercial users.  This 100 MHz is part of a larger band at 3100-3550 MHz that NTIA also is studying in conjunction with federal government users, including DoD, and will report on later this year, as required by the Mobile Now Act. The 3100-3550 MHz band is critical to DoD radar operations for national defense. 

The technical report and our ongoing research reflect a commitment across the U.S. government to support deployment of wireless broadband and foster American leadership in 5G.  NTIA will work with our partners to do everything we can to bring our nation’s 5G future to fruition.