The Senate is circulating a draft bill that would encourage federal government agencies to free up swaths of underutilized spectrum in an effort to further expand the country’s wireless capacity, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Developed by the Senate Commerce Committee, the bill – dubbed the MOBILE NOW Act – would provide a system of financial motivation for federal agencies to surrender underused portions of spectrum that are assigned to them. Incentives would reportedly include up to 25 percent of proceeds from the sale of their spectrum and the possibility to lease their spectrum to the private sector, according to the WSJ report.
The bill would also seek to cement President Obama’s goal of clearing 500 megahertz of spectrum by 2020 as a long-term goal and would bump the spectrum auction target in the recent Bipartisan Budget Act from 30 MHz to 50 MHz by 2024.
The draft bill – which is subject to change and approval – comes ahead of the U.S. government’s 600 MHz incentive auction scheduled for the end of March 2016. That auction may include as many as 12 blocks of spectrum or as few as two in one of eleven different band plans, depending on the amount of spectrum made available by broadcasters. Up to 30 MHz of spectrum could be set aside in a bidding reserve for smaller wireless carriers, the Federal Communications Commission has said.
The March auction has drawn the attention of wireless industry players looking to expand coverage, including three of the top four U.S. carriers. In September, however, Sprint announced it will not participate in the auction, citing its “sufficient” spectrum holdings.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)