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NTIA Targets Portion of 3.4 GHz Band for Potential Wireless Broadband Use


The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has identified 3450 to 3550 MHz for potential wireless broadband use. Amateur Radio has a secondary allocation of 3300 to 3500 MHz, sharing the spectrum with government radars; the popular “weak-signal” frequency is 3456.1 MHz. The NTIA oversees the use of spectrum by federal government agencies.

“America is the world’s leader in Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, and we have claimed an early lead in bringing 5G to reality,” NTIA Administrator David J. Redl said in making the announcement. “It’s essential to American competitiveness that we maintain our leadership in all of these areas.”

The NTIA announcement is “great news,” according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The Commission, working together with NTIA, has already made the 3.5 GHz band available for wireless services, and we recently initiated a process to consider whether all or parts of the adjacent satellite spectrum can also be made available” Pai said. “Altogether, this could unleash a contiguous block of hundreds of megahertz of valuable spectrum for new technologies and services, including 5G.”

Redl said that the NTIA, in coordination with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, has identified 100 megahertz of spectrum “for potential repurposing to spur commercial wireless innovation.” He said the 3450 – 3550 MHz band “could be a key asset in our nation’s broadband spectrum inventory.” In the US, military radar systems operate in the 3450 – 3550 MHz band, and Amateur Radio compatibly shares the lower half of that band with the military on a secondary basis. Redl said the Defense Department plans to submit a proposal under the Spectrum Pipeline Act to carry out a comprehensive RF engineering study “to determine the potential for introducing advanced wireless services in this band without harming critical government operations.” ARRL intends to contribute to NTIA’s study.

The FCC, in coordination with NTIA and the Defense Department, has already approved rules for its planned Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the adjacent 3550 – 3700 MHz band.

In 2014, UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom announced that it was ending Amateur Radio access to significant portions of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands following a year-long consultation — a rule making proceeding — that involved the release by the Ministry of Defence of 150 MHz of spectrum at 3.4 GHz to prepare for the roll out of future 5G services. Amateur Radio was secondary in the UK on both bands. Ofcom said it expected the spectrum to go on auction in late March.