9. Based on the assessments from these Federal agencies, NTIA concluded in March 2012, in the NTIA 1755-1850 MHz Assessment Report, that while it would be possible to repurpose all 95 megahertz of the 1755-1850 MHz band, a number of significant challenges would have to be met. These included the high cost and long timeline of repurposing 95 megahertz of spectrum, estimated at approximately $18 billion over 10 years, assuming relocation of most existing Federal users, not including costs to relocate incumbent non-Federal users in the Federal agencies' preferred destination bands. In light of the critical challenges related to the estimated timelines, costs, and complexities of completely clearing Federal users currently in the 1755-1850 MHz band, NTIA proposed a new path forward for consideration "that relies on a combination of relocating Federal users and sharing spectrum between Federal agencies and commercial users while ensuring no loss to critical capabilities." Additionally, NTIA states that a review of the agency evaluations indicates it is feasible to make the 1755-1780 MHz band available for commercial broadband wireless in five years--subject to exclusion zones and new allocations for Federal use of other spectrum bands, including 2025-2110 MHz and 5091-5250 MHz. NTIA did not evaluate the possibility for exclusive non-Federal use of the 1755-1780 MHz band in the NTIA 1755-1850 MHz Assessment Report.
Section 6401 of the Spectrum Act
10. In February 2012, Congress enacted Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Spectrum Act). The Spectrum Act includes several provisions designed to make more spectrum available for commercial use. The Spectrum Act established, among other things, deadlines applicable to both the Secretary of Commerce and the Commission to identify, reallocate, auction, and license, under flexible use service rules, spectrum for commercial use. Specifically, the Spectrum Act requires the allocation of spectrum in the following bands for services that support commercial use:
* 25 megahertz at 2155-2180 MHz;
* an additional contiguous 15 megahertz to be identified by the Commission;
* 15 megahertz between 1675-1710 MHz, to be identified by NTIA by February 22, 2013;
* up to 10 megahertz at 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz, if the Commission finds no harmful interference into the neighboring Personal Communications Service (PCS) band.
The Spectrum Act states that the Commission shall grant new initial licenses for all of these bands by February 2015. In June 2013 the FCC adopted service rules for certain bands listed above (1915-1920 and 1995-2000 MHz) in a separate FCC proceeding.
11. The Spectrum Act also amended the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA). In 2004, the CSEA created the Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF) to streamline the process by which Federal incumbents can recover the costs associated with relocating their spectrum-dependent systems from spectrum bands authorized to be licensed under the Commission's competitive bidding authority. The Spectrum Act extended the CSEA cost reimbursement mechanism for Federal incumbents to include sharing as well as relocation costs, and to facilitate Federal incumbents sharing of spectrum with commercial users by expanding the types of expenditures that can be funded or reimbursed from the SRF. These changes now permit agencies to receive funds associated with planning for Commission auctions and relocations, spectrum sharing, the use of alternative technologies, the replacement of existing government-owned equipment with state-of-the-art systems, and the research, engineering studies, and economic analyses conducted in connection with spectrum sharing arrangements, including coordination with auction winners. The Spectrum Act also created a new category of allowable pre-auction costs that may, in certain circumstances, be funded before the start of a Commission auction of licenses for applicable eligible frequencies. The Spectrum Act expresses Congress' priority for relocation over sharing, stating: "In evaluating a band of frequencies for possible reallocation for exclusive non-Federal use or shared use, the NTIA shall give priority to options involving reallocation of the band for exclusive non-Federal use and shall choose options involving shared use only when it determines, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, that relocation of a Federal entity from the band is not feasible because of technical or cost constraints."