Over the past few decades, as demand for wireless spectrum has grown, many presidential administrations have put out various plans for handling spectrum policy. On November 13, 2023, the Biden administration released its National Spectrum Strategy, in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel released a supportive statement that the administration’s strategy “acknowledges the wide range of wireless technologies that exist today and the even broader array we could see in the future.” Rosenworcel also noted the need for a clear commitment to study specific bands, highlighting that the strategy puts 2,790 megahertz on the table. She also recognized the need for opportunities to open federal spectrum in the near term for commercial use.
Spectrum Bands Enumerated for Sharing
To meet the growing demand for spectrum-based services, NTIA is already studying certain spectrum bands for potential repurposing. The strategy identified five additional bands for study:
- 3.1-3.45 GHz
- 5.03-5.091 GHz
- 7.125-8.4 GHz
- 18.1-18.6 GHz
- 37.0-37.6 GHz
This mix of bands could support a range of uses, including wireless broadband, drones, and satellite operations. NTIA will complete its study within two years.
Recognition of the Growing Needs of the Satellite and Space Sectors
The White House’s strategy acknowledged several times that the demand for satellite-based services is “exploding,” partly because of the expansion of consumer broadband, in-space assembly and manufacturing, earth observation and imaging, cislunar activities, and a host of other uses. Several of the spectrum bands identified for study would add additional capacity for space-based systems and operations.
This follows the FCC’s proposal earlier this year, which offered a new regulatory framework for supplemental terrestrial wireless coverage from space, through which satellite operators and terrestrial providers could coordinate to operate space stations on currently licensed, flexible-use wireless spectrum to expand coverage to the terrestrial provider’s subscribers.
Continued Focus on Artificial Intelligence
The Biden administration has been highly focused on considering artificial intelligence in all aspects of policy, with the White House issuing an Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence in late October. With the rapid expansion of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in the telecommunications sector, the administration’s strategy seeks to encourage investments in emerging technologies that would increase secure spectrum access and sharing. These technologies could enable real-time, dynamic spectrum sharing and coexistence, in addition to facilitating intelligent spectrum management.
Next Steps in Spectrum Management
The U.S. Government, through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and in coordination with the federal agencies, will develop a National Spectrum Research and Development Plan. Notably, NTIA intends to formalize best practices for conducting spectrum analyses in support of spectrum management decisions. It is hoped that this increased transparency will give the spectrum industry more insight into how the government makes key spectrum findings and could result in opportunities for spectrum sharing between commercial and federal users.