Mobile Now Act Heads to House to Add Spectrum, Clear Siting Red Tape

In a flurry of activity before Senate lawmakers left town for their August recess, members passed the Mobile Now Act. Sponsored by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD.) and Bill Nelson (D-FL)—respectively, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, S. 19 would boost the development of next-generation gigabit wireless broadband services, including 5G, by ensuring more spectrum is made available and reducing red tape associated with siting broadband wireless infrastructure. The Senate sent the bill to the House last week.

Of key interest to readers: Lawmakers are mindful that 5G requires small cells which have different siting needs than macro towers. Under the Act, federal agencies would have a new obligation to make decisions on applications and permit requests for placing wireless infrastructure on federal property in a timely and reasonable manner. The bill directs the federal government to assess spectrum in the 3 GHz band and in the millimeter wave frequencies to determine whether authorizing licensed or unlicensed wireless broadband services in those bands is feasible, and if so, on which frequencies would be best.

The Act facilitates adoption of “dig once” policies by states. Under Dig Once, a single conduit is laid in the ground at the same time as other below-ground infrastructure work, like highway construction. All broadband fiber can run through that conduit, reducing deployment costs.

Industry reacted favorably to the Senate action. Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein called the bill “an important step toward removing unreasonable barriers to wireless broadband investment,” while CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said: “With the reliance on mobile services skyrocketing, the availability and timely deployment of spectrum needs to keep pace to maintain economic growth and U.S. leadership in a rapidly approaching 5G world.” Finally, Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, said: “As our nation looks to promote advanced communications, it is essential to ensure the availability of sufficient spectrum and also remove barriers that can hamper the deployment of robust wireline and wireless facilities capable of handling the vastly increased consumer demands that such services enable.”

August 7, 2017       


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