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NTIA, FCC, Navy Work to Expand Innovative 3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing Framework

June 12, 2024
News Media Contact
NTIA, Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Department of the Navy (DON) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have successfully collaborated to expand the unencumbered service area of a critical swath of shared mid-band spectrum.

Modifications to the aggregate interference model used in the 3.5 GHz band would allow the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, to provide uninterrupted access to mid-band spectrum that supports wireless Internet and other services to approximately 72 million more people. After careful coordination with the DON and the FCC, NTIA formally submitted a request to change the aggregate interference model in a letter to the FCC on Tuesday. The FCC today issued a Public Notice to endorse the changes and to invite Spectrum Access System administrators to submit demonstrations of their ability to implement the modified protection criteria.

“The innovative approach of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service is a win-win: The Department of Defense has the airwaves it needs to carry out crucial missions while providing greater access for commercial 5G and high-speed Internet deployment,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. “The changes outlined in NTIA’s letter will expand Internet access to more people across the country. They could not have been implemented without the collaboration of the Navy and our ongoing coordination with the FCC.”

“Today, we are improving access to the 3.5 GHz band for tens of millions of Americans,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “The CBRS dynamic spectrum sharing framework is already fertile ground for wireless innovation, and through collaboration with Department of Defense, NTIA, and stakeholders, we are expanding opportunities for reliable spectrum access while also ensuring that federal incumbents remain protected. This is creative spectrum policy at work, and I want to thank our colleagues at the Department of the Navy and NTIA for their continuing partnership and ingenuity.”

“The Department of the Navy is committed to developing a Dynamic Spectrum Sharing capability with our industry partners to appropriately balance national economic and defense priorities,” said DON Chief Information Officer Jane Overslaugh Rathbun. “Agile spectrum access is critical to preserving the DON’s maritime warfighting competitive advantage and we are actively pursuing the development of innovative wireless solutions that will increase the quality life for Sailors and Marines.”

CBRS, established by FCC rules in 2015 in coordination with NTIA and DON, allows for dynamic spectrum sharing in the 3.5 GHz band between the Department of Defense (DOD) and commercial spectrum users. DOD users have protected, prioritized use of the spectrum. When the government isn’t using the airwaves, companies and the public can gain access through a tiered framework.

This means the DOD can use the same spectrum for its critical missions while companies and the public can use it for next-generation wireless services, including 5G.

NTIA's letter and the FCC’s Public Notice announce a reduction in the size of Dynamic Protection Area neighborhoods along coastlines and around federal facilities throughout the country. In these areas, commercial use can be pre-empted by federal operations.

The changes would authorize service to approximately 72 million more people and expand the total unencumbered CBRS area to roughly 240 million people nationwide.

The population affected by these changes is distributed throughout the country, with the most notable estimated increases occurring in the states listed below:

StatePopulation Increase
North Carolina7,985,493
New York4,033,110
South Carolina2,897,046
West Virginia1,287,504

NTIA’s and the FCC’s actions together will permit Spectrum Access System administrators — who help manage dynamic use of the spectrum — to apply to make these changes only after testing demonstrates their ability to effectively do so.


About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration   
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.