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Creating a “Model City” to test spectrum sharing technologies

by: Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering & Technology

July 11, 2014

Today, the FCC’s Office of Engineering & Technology (OET) and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a Joint Public Notice that seeks input on the establishment of a “Model City” program to test advanced wireless spectrum sharing technologies.

The NTIA and the FCC have encouraged and supported the development of advanced spectrum sharing technologies and techniques. Notably, the Commission recently revised its experimental licensing rules to facilitate development of radio technologies by establishing provisions for program licenses and innovation zones.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended the creation of an “urban Test City” to “support rapid experimentation” of advanced spectrum sharing technologies. The Joint Public Notice seeks to start the process of transforming this recommendation from an idea to reality. We have chosen to use the term “Model City” to better reflect the idea that systems or networks might be developed that could serve as a model for spectrum sharing techniques that can be deployed elsewhere.

It is too soon to know what a “Model City” might entail and what aspects would fall within the jurisdiction of the NTIA and/or the FCC. For example, the model city could be developed as a public-private partnership and implemented under existing provisions such as the FCC’s experimental licensing program.

What is clear is that there is a high likelihood that both NTIA and FCC will have a role to play, particularly because most of the spectrum is shared between federal and non-federal users. That is why we have initiated this process through a joint notice.

We appreciate that the notice does not lay out specific details of the “Model City” concept. We also recognize that many more questions might have been asked than those in the notice. Our intent is to spark private sector initiative to help turn this rough concept into a more specific plan.

We are excited about the idea of a “Model City.” We encourage all interested parties to review the Joint Public Notice released today and welcome all comments on how best to establish this “Model City” that will be a critical test bed for finding additional ways to meet the growing demand for spectrum. The feedback we receive will be important as we continue to work towards making more spectrum available for commercial use.

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