DOD Wants $3.5B for Spectrum

The Defense Department has offered a deal with wireless carriers in a fight over spectrum, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The DoD said it can largely relocate their 1755 to 1780 Mhz spectrum “while ensuring no loss of critical DOD capabilities.”

The position is a turnabout for the Defense Department, says the WSJ, which previously said it could impact air combat and drone programs.

The Defense Department said in the letter it will cost about $3.5 billion to move its operations out of the spectrum. It plans to compress much of its operations into their currently authorized 1780 to 1850 megahertz band.

The NTIA in March 2012 recommended that the 1755-1850 MHz band be repurposed for commercial wireless on a shared basis.

It will also relocate some of its operations to the 2025 to 2110 megahertz spectrum band, currently used by television broadcasters for remote trucks.

It wasn’t clear how the Pentagon would share that spectrum with broadcasters, something the National Association of Broadcasters has opposed.

“While we are not opposed in principle to sharing where it works, DOD has done none of the legwork necessary to even begin the conversation,” said Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President of Communications for the NAB.

Carriers want to pair the military airwaves at 1755 to 1780 with spectrum in the 2155 to 2180 megahertz bands, basically expanding the AWS band in the United States.

T-Mobile US called the offer a “significant breakthrough” even though several details remained to be worked out.

Carriers argue auctioning two slices of spectrum at once would give carriers complementary channels for uploading and downloading data and raise the value of the auction. That could raise as much as $12 billion, according to an industry sponsored study by the Brattle Group. Without the pairing, the auctioned spectrum might only fetch around $3.6 billion, the study concluded.

Last week, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would require the FCC to include the spectrum the carriers want in its coming auction. A similar bill introduced last session never made it out of committee. This time, however, co-sponsors of the bill include members of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees defense strategy.

Some question the basic requirement for paired spectrum.

China and India use Time Division LTE, as will Clearwire. Time Division multiplex works on a single block of frequencies, time-slicing the up and downstream channels. Two different spectrum pairs, and two radio pairs are not required.

Wi-Fi requires only a single channel. Carriers plan to offload their licensed paired frequencies to unlicensed WiFi – using unpaired WiFi.

Voice, about the only application that can benefit from symmetrical bandwidth, now occupies only 5% of today’s networks. The whole world has moved to asymmetrical data. Paired channels are wasteful.

Only large carriers can pay the price for paired spectrum and can take it off the market. The FCC has traditionally been accommodating to large carriers since they’re the ones with the big bucks.

Paired spectrum keeps user costs high. It kills innovations. MIMO, beamforming and relay stations work better with unpaired spectrum because mobile devices need only half the radios and antennas.

Money talks. Public service has nothing to do with it.

Related Dailywireless articles include; White House: Spectrum Sharing for New sub-6 GHz Spectrum, FCC Auction Plans for 2014, Battling Over 600 MHz RulesFCC Supports National White Space Networking, War 2.0 for Unlicensed Spectrum, Congressional Battle over Unlicensed Spectrum, target=new>FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, AT&T Fears FCC’s Incentive Auction Plans, FCC Moves on TV Frequency Auction,

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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