Senate Commerce Committee Green Lights Mobile Now Act

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stoplightThe Mobile Now Act, a bipartisan effort to boost wireless broadband and complete with a carnival of gimmicks disguised as amendments to make everyone happy, passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday. Multichannel News’s John Eggerton reports from Capitol Hill the amendments include “everything from shot-clocks for approving facilities, to dig-once policies for combining road projects and telecom plant, to a contest offering up to $5 million for the first person to come up with a way to boost spectrum efficiency.”

After months of negotiations, Commerce chairman Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said he thought the bill had a good chance for passage by the full Senate.

“The committee’s advancement of the Mobile Now Act was truly a bipartisan effort,” Thune said following the markup. “Enactment of this legislation will pave the way to a 5G future where Americans have access to ultra-fast, next generation wireless technology.” Continue Reading

The measure included a widely supported amendment backed by, among others that would insure that at least 100 MHz of the spectrum being freed up would go for unlicensed use and another 100 MHz for commercial mobile service, said Multichannel News, with a handwritten addition to the amendment saying that commercial use was “subject to the [FCC’s] regulatory purview to implement exclusive licensing in a flexible manner, including consideration of continued use of such spectrum by incumbent federal or non-federal entities in designated geographic areas indefinitely.”

BigIslandNow.com reported that senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Jerry Moran (R-KA) co-introduced the amendment. The Schatz-Moran amendment would assist in boosting unlicensed spectrum, used for WiFi and Bluetooth technologies.

“For the first time, we’ll have the opportunity to develop a national plan for unlicensed spectrum,” said Schatz.  “While much of the conversation on spectrum has been on licensed, we must continue to embrace unlicensed spectrum as a key part of our wireless strategy.  It’s critical for consumers and our economy, and its potential is unlimited.”

Meanwhile, Multichannel News reports FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the FCC would wrap up its inquiry into authorizing 5G spectrum use by the summer.

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