Sharing Spectrum Enables Future Innovation, Connectivity

spectrum sharing enables future innovation

“The only practical way to satisfy the demands of all applications commercial, scientific and federal is to encourage spectrum sharing among incumbent users and new entrants.” 

That’s the recent conclusion of the FCC's Technology Advisory Council (TAC) in presenting its final findings and recommendations to the FCC regarding the 7.125 and 24 GHz bands. The TAC, which represents a wide array of leading technical experts, recognized that the U.S. leads the way in innovative spectrum-sharing techniques, thereby opening the door for expanded economic and social benefits by unlocking valuable spectrum resources in efficient and innovative ways.

A few highlights from the findings include:

  • Consumer data demand is growing steadily. While currently available spectrum for cellular, Wi‑Fi, and satellite communication will soon be fully utilized, projections all point to a continued need for additional capacity and efficient use of limited spectrum.
  • In the U.S., a good chunk of spectrum frequencies are used by government agencies, but there is not enough information on actual federal use of these bands. This is problematic and more information will be required to help facilitate future sharing.
  • The target amount of spectrum required for terrestrial wireless communications is approximately 2 GHz by the year 2030. Making spectrum available in the 7.125 - 15 GHz is preferable due to signal propagation and infrastructure costs than 15 - 24 GHz.
  • The frequency range 7.125 - 8.5 GHz is of key interest to both the Wi-Fi industry and the commercial mobile industry. The Wi-Fi industry considers it important because it serves to efficiently extend the 5.975 - 7.125 GHz band with adequate spectrum to accommodate additional 320 megahertz channels, which will be used by the next generation of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 7) to offer accelerated throughput, lower latency, and higher capacity needed to power data-intensive applications.
  • Getting 2 GHz of unallocated spectrum between 7.125 GHz and 15 GHz is highly unlikely. Sharing spectrum among current users and new users will be required.

As noted by the report, the U.S. is at the forefront of creating smart ways to share spectrum. The FCC has done this through initiatives like Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and the 6 GHz band. This smart sharing of spectrum helps boost the economy by supporting new uses and benefits society by opening doors to new business areas and use cases. Shared spectrum is being used by nationwide carriers, regional providers, cable operators, manufacturers, agricultural enterprises, libraries, hospitals, industrial providers, defense operators, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), electric utilities and schools to provide competition and innovation for American consumers. To keep this progress going, it's important to continue finding ways to enable coexistence in more frequency ranges using similar models.

NCTA members rely on a diversity of spectrum access models to extend broadband networks and provide competitive mobile voice services to bring next-generation connectivity to millions of people across America. As spectrum grows scarcer, it is critical that the FCC continue to adopt policies that advance spectrum sharing to further innovation.