Legislation to ensure federal spectrum users can research ways to increase their spectrum efficiency and find ways to repurpose that spectrum for commercial use was introduced in Congress last week. Congress created a Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF) in 2004 to support the efforts. In 2015, the Spectrum Pipeline Act broadened the scope of eligible expenses that could be supported by the SRF and authorized $500 million in SRF monies. Now, there’s concern the money is running out.
That’s why the Supplementing the Pipeline for Efficient Control of The Resources for Users Making New Opportunities for Wireless Act (SPECTRUM NOW Act) was introduced by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), in the Senate (S. 3010). Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA), and Brett Guthrie, (R-KY), introduced the House companion.
“The ultimate success of next generation communications networks will depend on the United States using finite wireless spectrum more efficiently,” Wicker said. “It is important for Congress to consider ways to support innovation in this crucial sector and to free up existing resources accordingly.” The new legislation would allow the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to use the approximately $8 billion in existing SRF funding to support research-related activities that examine the feasibility of federal spectrum users relocating or sharing spectrum with non-federal users as long as those monies are not already obligated to support federal agencies.
Competitive Carriers Association Steve Berry said: “The AWS-3 spectrum auction proved that providing additional funds for spectrum research is money well spent, and reforms included in the SPECTRUM NOW Act have the potential to produce positive results.” CTIA agreed. “This timely bipartisan legislation will unlock funds to free up additional spectrum for commercial wireless use that will help spur new innovation and services for consumers,” stated CTIA SVP Government Affairs, Kelly Cole.
June 11, 2018