WASHINGTON-The Clinton administration, ending the first phase of a long-range spectrum plan, projects land mobile communications services will require an additional 119 megahertz over the next 10 years.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a unit of the Commerce Department that advises the president on telecommunications policy and manages federal government spectrum, also forecasts mobile satellite services will need 60 megahertz and mobile satellite feeder-links 200-400 megahertz during the same period.
“As a nation, we don’t have a national long-range spectrum plan applicable to both federal government and private sector spectrum uses,” said Larry Irving, head of NTIA, in presenting the report on future U.S. spectrum requirements earlier this month.
Irving said public-safety communications needs “will receive our immediate attention.” Though not stated in the study, officials are considering recommending that 55 megahertz be allotted to public-safety agencies in urban areas and shared with industrial radio services beyond city limits.
The public-safety community has been angered about what it perceives as a lack of sensitivity on the part of federal regulators to its future spectrum requirements.
W. Russell Slye, head of NTIA’s spectrum planning program, said the report is intended “to promote more dialogue and ask more questions” on how best to accommodate use of the public airwaves in coming years.
Projections for additional frequencies, according to Slye, will not necessarily be met by allocating new blocks of spectrum such as the 200-plus megahertz of federal government spectrum transferred to the private sector.
Policymakers, explained Slye, are thinking in terms of access to spectrum through increased sharing and expanded channel capacity that narrowbanding and digitization brings.
NTIA took technology advances into account in calculating 10-year spectrum projections. Specifically, the report breaks out the spectrum requirements as follows: conventional two-way dispatch, 18 megahertz; trunked dispatch, 3 megahertz; paging, 7 megahertz; cellular, 33 megahertz; personal communications services, 0; and specialized mobile radio/enhanced SMR, 8 megahertz. In addition, intelligent transportation system services account for 135 megahertz.
A 1992 report by the Personal Communications Industry Association concluded wireless telecommunications will need more spectrum than the amount estimated by NTIA.
The second phase of the government’s spectrum planning project will address spectrum availability and planning options this time next year. The third phase will outline spectrum and implementation plans the following year.