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US wireless carriers demand more spectrum

Three times more! ASAP!

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The US wireless industry lobby has written to the FCC, asking for another 800MHz of spectrum to offset "looming crisis" for American businesses.

The submission to the FCC again claims that the American mobile networks desperately need more spectrum allocated to them, while drawing irreverent comparisons with Europe and predicting dire consequences if their demands aren't immediately met.

Basically, the CTIA wants 800MHz of additional radio spectrum found and handed over. And the sooner the better:

"The US should immediately set itself on a course to identify a target of at least 800MHz of additional spectrum for licensed commercial wireless use within the next six years," says the filing with the FCC.

Not that the US networks are profligate with their spectrum usage: The CTIA reckons that no-one uses spectrum more efficiently, claiming that "US carriers serve more than three times more consumers per MHz than carriers in the United Kingdom." Of course, it helps to have one fifth the population density (31 people per square km, compared to 250) but that detail seems to have been glossed over - again.

Even more liberties are taken when talking about Ofcom's future plans: "Ofcom, the UK regulator has identified and is in the process of reallocating an additional 355 MHz of spectrum for CMRS", that's "Commercial Mobile Radio Services" to the rest of us and bollocks too. Ofcom is auctioning off a whole lot of spectrum it's true, but the regulator is working very hard avoid allocating anything to anyone. Ofcom believes the free market will decide what radio spectrum is for and that could be CRMS. Or TV broadcasting. Or even remote controls for cats. Ofcom doesn't care.

But the CTIA is clear that newly identified spectrum should be paired up as quickly as possible, especially the chunk between 1755MHz and 1780MHz, which it has identified as a good place to start: "Such a pairing of spectrum bands would allow for a rapid auction of 50 megahertz of paired spectrum*".

Pairing up the spectrum, to provide one frequency for an uplink and another for down, is important for Frequency Division Duplexed systems such as UMTS and LTE, but it is an unnecessary encumbrance to Time Division based systems such as WiMAX. It could be argued that it's best to just sell of the spectrum and let the buyer match up pairs if they want to, but that wouldn't favour companies who have already invested millions in LTE deployments - and who happen to be members of the CTIA.

* When combined with the already-available allocation at 2155-2180 MHz.

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