Bill Introduced to Compel FCC to Release Previously Auctioned Licenses


Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement Act to require the FCC to release previously auctioned spectrum in an effort to expand 5G broadband access to rural communities. The legislation would temporarily grant the Commission auction authority so that it may complete spectrum transfers and enable broadband services.

Noting that Louisiana’s economy relies on small business, and small businesses rely on broadband, Kennedy says, “Bureaucratic red tape is standing in the way of Louisianians’ wireless communications.” He characterizes the bill as a “simple solution.” 

The FCC lost its auction authority, for the first time ever, in March when Congress failed to act on continuing it. Caught in limbo are roughly 8,000 licenses that were won at auction, but not transferred to the winning companies. T-Mobile won the bulk – 7,156 – of those 2.5 GHz licenses in Auction 108 last summer.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has said the agency has tried to find a solution, but cannot legally do anything without that authority. Four former FCC General Counsels and T-Mobile, disagree, Inside Towers reported. Rosenworcel has stressed to lawmakers several times the importance of the agency re-gaining its auction authority.

Kennedy’s legislation would grant the FCC a one-time, temporary authority to issue licenses purchased in auctions that were held before March 9, 2023. That’s the date the FCC’s congressional authorization ended.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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