The latest compromise budget deal includes a bill that aims to clear more spectrum.
The Spectrum Pipleline Act of 2015 orders that an additional 30 MHz of spectrum be cleared in 10MHz contiguous blocks below 3GHz and auctioned. The Act also requires the FCC and NTIA to identify an additional 100 MHz of spectrum to be made available for commericial use.
There’s nothing quick about the process of finding and clearing spectrum for commercial use. Getting those initial 30MHz onto the market could take years, with draft legislation mandating that an auction take place by July 1, 2024.
Meanwhile, the FCC would have until 2022 to produce the first of two reports, each of which would outline a timetable for auctions that would put up 50MHz of spectrum each.
The new spectrum would likely come from clearing underused airwaves currently held by government agencies like the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation. The goal is that funds generated from the sale of the spectrum would help offset costs incurred by those agencies that have to relocate their operations to other bands.
A report from The Hill notes that lawmakers will have to convince the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the bill frees up spectrum that otherwise wouldn’t have been auctioned. If that’s not the case, the CBO would assume that it has already accounted for revenue generated by the auction in previous estimates.
CTIA called the Spectrum Pipeline Act “an important first step forward” in meeting the industry’s need for more spectrum, lamenting that the United States needs to do more to meet future consumer demand for bandwidth.
“As other countries around the world are allocating large paired blocks of spectrum for future broadband needs, it is disappointing that we were not able to do more now to meet Americans’ demands for 5G and the Internet of Things,” wrote CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. “It is incumbent on all of us to redouble our efforts to identify hundreds of MHz of additional spectrum to meet Americans future demand for mobile services so that America can remain the world leader in wireless.
Filed Under: Industry regulations