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FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum Allocations

Trey Hanbury

01 March 2013
FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum AllocationsThe FCC released a white paper February 26, 2013 that presents a comparative analysis of international broadband spectrum allocations.  The white paper incorporates no real policy recommendations, but provides a nice compendium of publicly available data.

The FCC’s white paper portrays the United States as among the global leaders in the amount of licensed spectrum, whether measured based only on the amount currently available or measured to also include the amount coming down the pipeline.  The FCC takes pains to note that this data does not include any projections relying on the 600 MHz broadcast incentive auction, tentatively scheduled for 2014.

FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum Allocations

Based on the next chart, you can see that the FCC’s white paper treats 608 MHz of mobile broadband spectrum as available in the United States.  This standard for available broadband spectrum is less rigorous than the “spectrum-screen” standard the FCC uses as a safeguard against excessive concentration of mobile broadband spectrum resources.  Under the FCC’s spectrum screen, mobile broadband spectrum must be both “suitable” and “available” for mobile data and voice communications services.  The FCC most recently found that only 442 MHz of spectrum met this criteria – some 166 MHz short of the spectrum the white paper shows as available for broadband use.

FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum Allocations

The Commission also shows the similarity between the European Union and US allocations of spectrum for mobile broadband.  These two sets of bands largely serve as models for other countries, allowing manufacturers and consumers to benefit from international economies of scale and robust device ecosystems.

FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum Allocations

The FCC white paper claims that the US takes the global lead in freeing unlicensed spectrum for broadband use.  The FCC expresses optimism that its actions in unleashing relatively newer allocations for unlicensed broadband, such as TV White Spaces, will spur other countries to adopt similar allocations.  As in the licensed context, the FCC notes that international economies of scale have delivered healthy device ecosystems at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

FCC Issues White Paper on International Spectrum Allocations

Overall, the information in the 19-page white paper is interesting and informative.  The FCC also seems interested in periodically updating this information as changes occur.  The Commission invites submission of comments and corrections for future revisions.  Parties interested in updating or correcting the FCC’s white paper should email submissions to intlspectrumpaper@fcc.gov.

 

 

Trey Hanbury

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