Spectrum Sharing Can Lead to ‘Smart Cities’ with Cooperation of Agencies


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Philadelphia’s “Smart City” challenge aims to build a wireless network to connect users and city operations — think meter reading, transportation analytics and public safety cameras — through the Internet of Things (IoT). In general, however, as the number of devices using wireless technology proliferates, spectrum demand will outstrip supply, experts warn.

While the federal government is working to free up additional spectrum, supply challenges will persist, writes Marcela Gomez, a Ph.D. candidate in the telecommunications program of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in an Op Ed for Philly.com. She sees spectrum sharing as a practical solution.   

“Enabling collaboration will create an approach in which entities with different areas of expertise can extract additional value from underutilized spectrum for the broader good. For example, my research has found that the proposed combination of a three-tier priority system with wireless network virtualization technology holds promise of creating a flexible modern spectrum solution in the 3.5 gigahertz spectrum band, which the FCC opened up to experimental sharing earlier this year,” says Gomez. 

Spectrum sharing could be used in the 1675-1680 MHz band held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) Yet most of its activities take place at the end of the band and comprise only a small amount of bandwidth, according to the scientist.

One party wants to share NOAA’s spectrum but has experienced pushback even though it’s prepared to establish a buffer zone around NOAA facilities to manage potential interference. And NOAA is not the only federal agency holding on to underused spectrum.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly recently proposed a carrot and stick approach to persuade agencies to either share their spectrum or give it up. He encouraged House Telecom Subcommittee Chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to consider agency spectrum fees “to force agencies to retain bandwidth assignments only if absolutely necessary.”

February 13, 2017

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