Agencies may get paid for spectrum move

NTIA's 3G wireless home page

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Telecommunications companies that want to acquire government-used radio spectrum for third-generation wireless ventures may have to reimburse displaced federal agencies for costs they incur to move along the broadcast spectrum.

The mandatory reimbursement policy is spelled out in the notice of proposed rulemaking issued Wednesday by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Comments on the proposed rules must be submitted within 60 days of the notice being published in the Federal Register; it was posted today.

"These are extremely important in determining how reimbursement procedures will go," said Diane Cornell, associate chief of the Federal Communications Commission's wireless telecommunications bureau. Cornell also said "reimbursement will be separate from the cost of bidding."

The proposed rules require the FCC to provide the estimated costs of reimbursement to potential bidders so that the costs can be factored in, according to the notice.

The 3G wireless technology promises high-speed, two-way mobile Internet access and communications.

The FCC manages the electromagnetic spectrum used by the public and private sectors, and the NTIA is responsible for managing the federal government's use of the radio spectrum, according to the rulemaking notice.

The NTIA, an agency within the Commerce Department, also has been the principal adviser to the White House on telecom policies.

The Senate paved the way for corporate reimbursement for any agency spectrum moves when, in 1999, it required paybacks totaling up to $5 billion associated with spectrum reallocation.

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