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Pentagon bows down to pressure in spectrum battle

Posting in Government

Following disputes with wireless carriers over spectrum use within the U.S. military, the Defense Department has agreed to compromise in time for the upcoming auction.

Carriers have requested the opportunity to bid for spectrum within the 1755 to 1780 megahertz bands before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) releases the dates for the spectrum auction. Currently, the spectrum is being used solely by the U.S. military for programs including pilot training for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Although the DOD has "significant reservations" about releasing the spectrum, according to the agency's CIO Teresa Takai, the U.S. government has bowed to pressure following a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week which would require the FCC to include spectrum bands carriers want in auctions.

Communications companies want additional spectrum resources due to fierce competition and the rising adoption rates of mobile technology.

The department says that most activities can be moved out of the band without losing military capabilities, but it will cost approximately $3.5 billion to do so. However, the terms of compromise remain cloudy.

"At first blush, the DOD proposal doesn't seem to make much sense," said Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President of Communications for the National Association of Broadcasters. "While we are not opposed in principle to sharing where it works, the DOD has done none of the legwork necessary to even begin the conversation."

The turnaround could mean that carriers will be able to bid for additional spectrum to cater for more subscribers as mobile Internet use continues to soar. However, it remains to be seen how workable a compromise between the military and wireless carriers in reality can be.

Via: Wall Street Journal

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on July 23, 2013, 1:05 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure