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Blog Posts by John Leibovitz

Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation in the 3.5 GHz Band

by John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Special Advisor to the Chairman for Spectrum Policy
April 21, 2015 - 04:47 PM

On Friday the FCC unanimously voted to create the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3.5 GHz Band. This action will create a 150-megahertz band suitable for wireless broadband, including 100 megahertz previously unavailable for commercial use because it was earmarked for military radars. The Commission adopted a comprehensive framework encompassing three tiers of shared use (Incumbents, Priority Access, and General Authorized Access), coordinated through one or more Spectrum Access Systems. Today we released the rules for this new “innovation band”, which will become effective when they are soon published in the Federal Register.

The new 3.5GHz rules will provide tangible benefits for all Americans. First, the new rules will support important national defense missions by protecting incumbent radar systems from interference. Second, the new rules will further increase the speed, capacity, and adaptability of wireless networks, leading to better mobile Internet performance for everyone. Finally, we expect to see wide deployment of wireless broadband in industrial applications – advanced manufacturing, energy, healthcare, etc. – supporting innovation and growth throughout our economy.

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Auction Season at the FCC

by John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau & Special Advisor to the Chairman for Spectrum Policy
September 12, 2014 - 08:03 AM

Preparations for the AWS-3 auction are ramping up. Applications must be submitted before 6pm ET today. The auction begins on November 13.

Several government agencies have worked hard to make substantial information available to potential bidders in advance of this auction about the scope of coordination that will be required with these federal incumbent users of the band. Wednesday, we announced the release by NTIA of a new Workbook and Workbook Information File, prepared by the Department of Defense (DoD). DoD developed the Workbook to provide guidance to potential bidders about their obligation to coordinate with DoD systems in 1755-1780 MHz. This release is unprecedented in terms of the scope and granularity of government data provided to help applicants prepare for an auction. The Wireless Bureau strongly encourages all applicants to delve into this important resource.

Before I go farther, our lawyers remind me that I should provide the following caveat:

As stated in the Auction 97 Procedures Public Notice, an applicant should perform its due diligence research and analysis before proceeding, as it would with any new business venture. In particular, the Bureau strongly encourages each potential bidder to review all Commission orders and public notices establishing rules and policies for the AWS-3 bands, including incumbency issues for AWS-3 licensees, Federal and non-Federal relocation and sharing and cost sharing obligations, and protection of Federal and non-Federal incumbent operations. The Commission makes no representations or warranties about the use of this spectrum for particular services.

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3.5 GHz: New Ideas in the “Innovation Band”

by John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau & Special Advisor to the Chairman for Spectrum Policy
April 23, 2014 - 01:04 PM

In a speech last month at the Brookings Institution, the Chairman issued a challenge – let’s confront change in spectrum policy and reorient our perspective from what was to what can be. Today, the Commission is leading by example. The Commission is issuing a detailed proposal for a new service in the 3.5 GHz Band- the Citizens Broadband Radio Service – representing a watershed for innovative spectrum sharing policies.

In July 2012 the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report suggesting that we could help meet the demand for spectrum by increasing civilian access to spectrum currently reserved for government use. In 2012, the Commission took the next step by proposing to implement a dynamic spectrum sharing scheme in up to 150 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band.

3.5 GHz is an ideal “innovation band.” Because the federal use in this band occurs primarily around the coasts, it is a great opportunity for intensive wireless broadband use on a shared basis. In 2010, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration proposed just that – broadband wireless could share the band with government incumbents. The use of innovative spectrum sharing technologies is the key to unlocking the potential of this band. But without a new approach to thinking about spectrum rights and responsibilities, we will not be able to expand access to new civilian uses.

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Hot Times for Spectrum Policy

by John Leibovitz, Deputy Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
July 19, 2011 - 03:19 PM

Things are heating up in Washington. Of course, we’re not referring to the ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling, or even the 100-degree temperatures expected later this week. We’re talking about spectrum policy.

Last week, Republican and Democrat leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced discussion drafts of legislation that would allow the FCC to hold “voluntary incentive auctions” for rights to use electromagnetic spectrum—the airwaves. The draft bills follow bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate Commerce Committee last month.

Never mind the heat—it’s wonky talk like this that keeps people away from Washington in the summer (or all year round, for that matter). But actually, a very simple and powerful idea animates the proposed legislation.

Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal explained it lucidly in his column yesterday.

One of the FCC’s main responsibilities is to grant licenses to use spectrum. For many years, the agency determined the “best” licensee through an administrative process. In 1993, Congress granted the FCC authority to hold spectrum auctions. Nearly two decades later, FCC auctions have spurred hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment in wireless networks and generated over $50 billion in proceeds for the Treasury.

Now, as America faces a spectrum crunch driven by the spectacular growth of mobile broadband, we need to take the next step.

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Demand for mobile broadband

February 10, 2011 - 12:11 PM

Cisco recently released an update to its Visual Networking Index: Mobile Data Traffic Forecast report, which contains projections of data usage on mobile wireless networks over the next five years. The report is widely followed because Cisco’s role as a network equipment supplier throughout the network ecosystem – including wireline networks, cellular networks, and consumer WiFi networks – gives them some unique insights into where network trends are heading. Last year’s VNI report, which projected surging demand on wireless networks, was an input into the spectrum demand analysis we released this past fall. We were therefore interested to see how Cisco’s report changed since the prior edition.

The bottom line is that Cisco continues to foresee an enormous surge in wireless demand. Let’s take a look at their North American regional breakout. Cisco estimates that in 2010, North Americans transmitted 49 Petabytes (PB)per month over mobile networks. That’s about 4,900 times the amount of information in the printed collection of the Library of Congress. By 2015, Cisco expects this number will grow to 986 Petabytes – nearly one Exabyte, equivalent to almost 100,000 Libraries of Congress.

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