Feds collecting signals on 3G wireless

Federal officials will be taking comments from the telecom industry over

the next two weeks as they begin laying the groundwork for deploying 3G

(third-generation) wireless — the technology promising high-speed, two-way

mobile Internet access and communications.

Officials Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications

and Information Administration met with industry representatives Nov. 2

in what will be the first of a series of meetings.

Under the schedule detailed Nov. 2, an interim report will be ready

by Nov. 15 and, following a comment period and additional meetings, a notice

of proposed rulemaking will be issued Dec. 31.

"What does the United States need in terms of developing 3G requirements?

We need industry help with this," assistant Commerce Secretary Gregory Rohde

said. "Government should not do the process alone. We need the input from

industry to make these decisions."

Without cooperation, he said, 3G "will become a political brawl of who-knows-who

wins."

The meeting followed an October directive by President Clinton ordering

departments and agencies to work with the FCC and NTIA to develop plans

for some frequencies to be dedicated for commercial 3G purposes.

Federal officials say public safety and defense issues will be taken

into consideration in determining what parts of the spectrum to use for

3G. Defense officials have concerns over how much spectrum they can turn

over to commercial use, fearing loss of bandwidth could adversely affect

the Global Positioning System, satellite communications and other applications.

Between now and Nov. 15, industry officials will be asked for their

ideas on spectrum requirements, band segmentation, migration of first- and

second-generation wireless to 3G, incumbent user alternate bands, short-

and long-range plans, and global roaming.

Government officials expect to identify the 3G spectrum by July 2001,

followed by a final notice of proposed rulemaking a month later. Auction

rules will be published in December 2001, with the FCC conducting the auction

six months later.

Licenses are to be issued in September 2002.

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