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Quantitative Assessments of Spectrum Usage

November 17, 2016

In this report, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) presents a summary of the results of its quantitative assessments of spectrum usage in response to the 2013 Presidential Memorandum entitled Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation. Through this memorandum, the President sought to make more spectrum available by allowing and encouraging shared access by commercial providers to spectrum that is currently allocated for federal use. As the President’s memorandum makes clear, spectrum sharing can enhance efficiency among all users and can expedite commercial access to additional spectrum bands where technically and economically feasible. Accordingly, the memorandum directed NTIA and the federal agencies to take a number of steps to accelerate shared access to spectrum, such as conducting quantitative assessments of frequency bands that have the greatest potential to be shared with non-federal users without adversely affecting agencies’ missions.

These quantitative assessments can be used as an intermediate step in a process for identifying and prioritizing strategic options for potential repurposing of bands. The information developed in the quantitative assessments will help NTIA and the White House’s Spectrum Policy Team, in consultation with the agencies, determine the extent to which frequencies assigned to these agencies could be further evaluated for sharing with commercial users, particularly in major metropolitan areas. Based on the quantitative assessments and associated implications, this report identifies potential sharing opportunities suitable for further examination through feasibility studies. Such detailed evaluations would analyze technical, operational, and cost considerations to ascertain whether such frequencies are appropriate candidates for repurposing for shared federal/non-federal use.