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America to ITU: Sort out your spectrum policy

WRC 2015 failed, says FCC's O'Reilly

America is threatening to “go it alone” on spectrum policy, again.

Speaking to think-tank New America, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Reilly took a swipe at last year's World Radiocommunication Conference and said America “and other countries … will move forward in key spectrum areas, such as 600 MHz and 28 GHz, despite decisions at WRC, and we won't be tied to any future upper 5 GHz decisions”.

America went to WRC with two aims: to get a global allocation of 600 MHz spectrum for broadband applications, and to kick off sharing studies in the 5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. Both initiatives failed on the floor of the conference.

In the 600 MHz band, things turned out even worse than America had hoped: individual countries can only offer a mobile allocation in the band if neighbouring countries agree.

America already has plans in place to auction some of that band, and networks will be deployed well before the issue comes before the WRC again in 2023, according to Australian telco newsletter Communications Day.

The FCC considers the 5.9 GHz band as a high-stakes battle: “The upper 5 GHz is a critical component to the continued success of unlicensed spectrum use,” he told New America. “This is because it's adjacent to the rest of the 5 GHz band, in which Wi-Fi has been incredibly successful.

“For the foreseeable future, there is unlikely to be spectrum better positioned to complement current Wi-Fi offerings, in terms cost efficiency, time to market, and technological possibilities, as the 5.9 GHz band”.

Moving ahead with a 5.9 GHz plan will draw some criticism from the auto industry, which currently uses the band for short-range communications, but O'Reilly said he believes the band can be shared, adding that “our interest in this project is not intended in any way to undermine the automobile industry's ability to deploy DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) systems without harmful interference.”

O'Reilly's comments to New America can be found here. ®

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