3G wireless users may have to share

To accommodate commercial uses of 3G (third-generation) wireless technology,

some government users will have to move and some frequencies will remain

dedicated to the Department of Defense, according to an interim report released

Wednesday by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

"This interim report indicates that segmentation and sharing are possibilities

in the 1755-1850 MHz band," said Gregory Rohde, assistant secretary of commerce

and head of the NTIA. Industry and federal officials must begin looking

at sharing the bandwidth, as well as possible re-allocation options, he

said, in order to make it work.

The 3G wireless technology promises high-speed, two-way mobile Internet

access and communications.

If current federal users have to move, they must be reimbursed by private-sector

interests who win the rights for commercial use of the bandwidth, according

to the NTIA report, "Federal Operations in the 1755-1850 MHz band." NTIA

is a Department of Commerce agency charged with developing international

telecommunications policy for the United States.

For the interim report, officials looked at four federal systems that

operate on the 1755-1850 MHz band:

* Tracking, telemetry and control of U.S. government space systems.

* Medium-capacity, conventional — that is, non-mobile — communications

systems.

* Military tactical radio relay training.

* Air-combat training systems.

Based on data supplied by DOD, officials concluded that commercializing

part of the spectrum would cause serious problems because it is already

dedicated to DOD satellite, radio relay and air-combat training systems.

DOD satellites are programmed to operate on particular channels before

launch and cannot be changed afterward, said Art Brodsky, a spokesman for

NTIA. A satellite's life cycle can extend past 10 years.

The Federal Communications Commission intends to issue a notice of proposed

rule-making for spectrum allocation on Dec. 31.

Final reports by the FCC and NTIA are slated for March 2001. The NTIA's

March report will look at the potential for re-allocating spectrum within

the 1755-1850 MHz band, according to Rohde.

The FCC, in coordination with the NTIA, will identify spectrum for commercial

3G uses in July 2001.

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