[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 160 (Monday, August 19, 2013)]
[Pages 50399-50401]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-20148]



National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket Number 130809703-3703-01]
RIN 0660-XC007

Spectrum Monitoring Pilot Program

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of inquiry.


SUMMARY: In his June 2013 Executive Memorandum on Expanding America's 
Leadership in Wireless Innovation, President Obama directed the 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to 
design and conduct a pilot program to monitor spectrum usage in real 
time in selected communities throughout the country. NTIA's budget 
request to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2014 seeks an initial $7.5 
million research and development investment for a two-year pilot 
program to determine the benefits of an automated spectrum measurement 
and data collection system to better analyze actual spectrum usage. 
NTIA issues this Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to seek public comment on this 
proposed spectrum monitoring pilot program that, if funded, would 
develop and deploy a prototype system to monitor spectrum usage in up 
to ten metropolitan areas throughout the United States. The NOI 
requests input from all interested stakeholders on the measurement 
system's design, features, deployment options, operational parameters, 
expected utility, potential benefits, and other issues. Subject to the 
availability of funds, NTIA will design, develop, validate, and field 
this prototype system and evaluate whether a more comprehensive 
monitoring program would create additional opportunities for more 
efficient spectrum access through, for example, increased and more 
dynamic sharing. NTIA intends to use the input received in response to 
this NOI to help design and implement the spectrum monitoring program.

DATES: Submit comments on or before October 3, 2013.

ADDRESSES: The public is invited to submit written comments in paper or 
electronic form. Written comments may be submitted by email to 
[email protected]. Comments submitted should be machine 
searchable and should not be copy-protected. Written comments also may 
be submitted by mail to: National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue 
NW., HCHB Room 6725, Attn: Ed Drocella, Office of Spectrum Management, 
Washington, DC 20230. Each commenter should include the name of the 
person or organization filing the comment as well as a page number on 
each page of the submission. All comments received will be made a part 
of the public record in this docket and will be posted to NTIA's Web 
site (http://www.ntia.doc.gov) without change. All personally 
identifiable information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by 
the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential 
business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ed Drocella, Office of Spectrum 
Management, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., HCHB Room 
6725, Washington, DC 20230; (202) 482-2608; or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The continued growth in demand for spectrum 
for commercial wireless services, unlicensed devices, and government 
operations--whether at the federal, state, local, tribal, or 
territorial level--focuses attention on the ability of spectrum policy-
makers, researchers, and industry stakeholders to identify relocation 
or spectrum sharing opportunities and approaches. While clearing 
spectrum bands of incumbent users to make way for new wireless services 
has been a viable approach for many years, opportunities to find 
spectrum to which to relocate federal operations are dwindling rapidly, 
getting more expensive, and taking longer to implement. Technologies 
that enable a variety of different networks and users to share the same 
spectrum bands in the same geographic areas promise greater utilization 
and efficiency as relocation options become more challenging. However, 
assessing these opportunities requires better data gathering and 
analysis techniques which focus on the nature and extent of actual 
spectrum usage. Spectrum utilization and occupancy measurements offer 
the possibility to collect data and conduct analysis, which are more 
reflective of actual use.
    The June 2013 Executive Memorandum directs NTIA to design and 
conduct a pilot program to monitor spectrum usage in real time in 
selected communities throughout the country.\1\ In addition, NTIA's FY 
2014 budget request to Congress seeks an initial $7.5 million research 
and development investment for a two-year pilot program to determine 
the benefits of an automated spectrum measurement and data collection 
system to better analyze spectrum usage.\2\ Under the proposal in the 
budget request, NTIA would design, develop, validate, and field a 
prototype spectrum monitoring system. The input submitted in response 
to this NOI will be used by NTIA to help design the pilot program, if 

    \1\ Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, 
Expanding America's Leadership in Wireless Innovation (June 14, 
2013), 78 FR 37431, 37433 at Sec.  3(c) (June 20, 2013), available 
at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/14/presidential-memorandum-expanding-americas-leadership-wireless-innovatio (June 2013 Executive Memorandum). The President also 
directed NTIA to develop a plan that requires applicable federal 
agencies to make quantitative assessments of the actual usage of 
spectrum in certain spectrum bands below 6 GHz that have the 
greatest potential to be shared with nonfederal users. Id. at Sec.  
3(a). Similarly, the memorandum calls on NTIA to take such actions 
as are necessary to require that each federal agency's regular 
reviews of its frequency assignments include a quantitative 
assessment of its actual usage of spectrum under such assignments. 
Id. at Sec.  3(d).
    \2\ See U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications 
and Information Administration, FY 2014 Budget as Presented to 
Congress at 4, 103-108 (April 2013), available at http://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/budget/FY14CJ/NTIA_FY_2014_CJ_Final_508_Compliant.pdf.

    NTIA is considering that the initial system for the pilot program 
include a small network of radiofrequency sensors installed at selected 
sites in up to ten major metropolitan areas to collect data across 
particular bands of interest. The measurement equipment would 
automatically feed data to a centralized database for storing, 
retrieving, and analyzing spectrum usage and occupancy information. 
Spectrum policy-makers, researchers, and other stakeholders would have 
access to the data and analysis to corroborate other quantitative 
assessments and investigate the feasibility of supporting new and 
innovative spectrum access capabilities, such as more dynamic spectrum 
sharing approaches in key federal or non-federal bands. If the pilot 
phase successfully demonstrates the value of this monitoring 
capability, NTIA would look to promote more widespread deployment.
    NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management (OSM) and the Institute for

[[Page 50400]]

Telecommunication Science (ITS) in Boulder, Colorado, will design and 
conduct the pilot program in collaboration with other federal and non-
federal spectrum stakeholders and researchers. In accordance with the 
June 2013 Executive Memorandum, NTIA will also consult with each 
federal agency to determine the correct technical parameters to monitor 
usage and to ensure that the program will not reveal sensitive or 
classified information. Based on the input received from the agencies 
and in response to this NOI, as well as NTIA's spectrum management 
objectives and other relevant factors, OSM would identify metropolitan 
areas and coverage criteria, monitoring requirements, and measurement 
    The system would be designed and intended to interoperate with 
other third-party measurement units and spectrum databases to enable 
academic and industry researchers, commercial and government spectrum 
managers, and independent database managers to implement and deploy 
their own data collection and dissemination systems. To encourage and 
facilitate similar, interoperable measurement efforts throughout the 
country, NTIA would make available to these interested parties 
criteria, requirements, parameters, designs, interfaces, software, data 
sets, and other information generated at each phase of the project.
    The prototype monitoring unit would be designed to run continuously 
at remote sites with system control and data uploads performed over the 
Internet. Standardized data sets would be accumulated and analyzed 
within the unit and uploaded to a centralized database. Based on the 
fully developed and tested prototype unit and subject to available 
funds, ten or more identical spectrum measurement units would be built 
and deployed in up to ten major metropolitan areas throughout the 
United States. Once deployed, they would continuously monitor the 
spectrum and collect data in pre-determined frequency bands and upload 
them to the database.
    If successful, this initiative will present a number of benefits 
for NTIA, other federal agencies, academia, and industry. For example, 
by improving the reliability of agency-reported spectrum usage data, 
NTIA and other interested parties could verify other quantitative usage 
assessments, evaluate the potential for more relocation and sharing 
opportunities, assess the feasibility of dynamic frequency access 
approaches in particular bands, and conduct research into other 
spectrum access and management methods. Federal agencies could use the 
spectrum usage data to support regular frequency assignment reviews and 
to identify and characterize incumbent systems in bands available for 
sharing and assess the impact of sharing on their missions. The 
measurement data could also assist the agencies in determining the 
technical and operational feasibility of relocating to other bands. 
Industry stakeholders could use the data to assess the feasibility of 
spectrum sharing by evaluating spectrum availability and developing 
commercially viable spectrum sharing technologies and approaches.
    At the conclusion of the initial two-year pilot phase, NTIA would 
seek additional input from the spectrum community and assess whether to 
recommend the continuation and expansion of the spectrum measurement 
program in collaboration with the new Center for Advanced 
Communications in Boulder, Colorado.\3\ NTIA will evaluate the benefits 
demonstrated by the pilot, the ability to support spectrum decision-
making, and will determine whether the concept can and should be 
expanded to include other sites, bands, and participants.

    \3\ NTIA and the National Institute for Standards and Technology 
(NIST) recently announced a cooperative effort launch the Center for 
Advanced Communications to address current and long-term 
communications technology challenges related to spectrum sharing, 
public safety communications, standards coordination, 
electromagnetics, and quantum electronics. See Press Release, NIST 
and NTIA Announce Plans to Establish New Center for Advanced 
Communications (June 14, 2013), available at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/nist-ntia-mou-061413.cfm.

Request for Comments

    NTIA requests public comment on all aspects of the proposed pilot 
program summarized above and its FY14 budget request, including but not 
limited to the measurement system's design, features, deployment, 
operation, utility, and benefits. NTIA also seeks input on the pilot 
program's objectives and approach, as well as methods for evaluating 
the pilot program itself. NTIA seeks input on other possible approaches 
to developing and fielding such a system along with their estimated 
costs, potential impediments, and likely advantages.
    NTIA solicits information regarding how academic, government and 
private sector researchers may participate in and support the pilot 
program through, for example, exchanges of experiences and expert 
advice, workshops, plug-fests, code-a-thons, or other events. NTIA 
further seeks comment on how researchers can assist and participate in 
the continuation and expansion of the system into a wide-spread network 
of spectrum measurement facilities and cooperative data repositories.
    More specifically, NTIA invites comment on the following questions:
    1. How should a measurement system be designed to measure a variety 
of emissions, including weak or intermittent signals, airborne 
platforms, and radar systems, while keeping incremental costs in check?
    2. What types of measurement/monitoring techniques should be used 
for the different types of radio services?
    3. What frequency bands should initially be measured during the 
pilot phase of the program?
    4. How should measurement and monitoring parameters (e.g., 
resolution and video bandwidths, sampling rate, dwell time, detector 
selection, antennas, pre-selector filtering, dynamic range) be 
    5. Which geographic locations within major metropolitan areas or 
other communities throughout the country would provide the greatest 
value for the pilot?
    6. How should individual measurement units be deployed in each 
    7. How could the long- or short-term placement of multiple fixed 
units within the same general geographic area improve the accuracy and 
reliability of the data collected in each community and at what 
incremental cost?
    8. How could mobile or portable units be utilized to supplement 
data collected at fixed sites within a community and at what 
incremental cost?
    9. How long should measurement data be collected to provide 
statistically relevant results, particularly for intermittent 
operations, at each geographic location?
    10. How should the measurement system design take into account 
variations in population densities, buildings, terrain and other 
factors within or surrounding selected measurement locations (i.e., in 
urban, suburban, and rural parts of a metropolitan area)?
    11. What steps can be taken to eliminate or minimize the 
possibility of ``hidden nodes'' when conducting measurements?
    12. What kind of spectrum utilization and occupancy information 
(e.g., precise received field strength levels, time-of-day occupancy 
percentages, times that signals are measured above specified 
thresholds) would be most useful to spectrum stakeholders?

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    13. What detection thresholds should be used to measure and 
characterize the usage patterns of incumbent systems?
    14. What data and information would be useful in evaluating 
potential sharing compatibility with wireless broadband devices?
    15. How can the gathered data and analysis better inform spectrum 
policy decisions, enhance research and development of advanced wireless 
technologies and services?
    16. What data formats and evaluation tools should be employed?
    17. How can the large amounts of measurement data be effectively 
managed, stored, and distributed?
    18. What steps can be taken to ensure that sensitive or classified 
information will not be revealed to unauthorized parties?

    Dated: August 14, 2013.
Karl B. Nebbia,
Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management.
[FR Doc. 2013-20148 Filed 8-16-13; 8:45 am]