Senate Committee Advances Spectrum Valuation Bill

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The Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday voted on a measure to push the Commerce Department to put a value on spectrum owned by the federal government. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) sponsored the Government Spectrum Valuation Act. The bill now goes to the full Senate. 

S. 1626 is supported by spectrum-hungry industry interests like CTIA, which said: “This innovative approach to spectrum management is critical to meeting our country’s growing data needs.” In the House, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) recently unveiled a House companion bill.

“Continuing to free up wireless spectrum is essential for maintaining and expanding American leadership in next-generation wireless technologies. It’s a critical component in beating the Chinese in the race to 5G, expanding WiFi capacity, and deploying broadband networks in rural America,” said McMorris Rodgers. “While the federal government has taken steps to repurpose and auction more spectrum over the years, they still hold more than two-thirds of usable wireless spectrum. This legislation will bring transparency to the federal government’s spectrum holdings by reporting on the commercial value of their spectrum. This is the first step towards incentivizing more responsible and efficient use by federal agencies and, in turn, lead to more spectrum being commercially available in the future.”

Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) opposed the bill. “The Government Spectrum Evaluation Act has one goal: to put pressure on federal agencies such as DOT, NOAA, NASA, and DOD to give up spectrum. It is designed to create a wildly inaccurate evaluation of spectrum use, and I hope that we don’t ignore how essential federal spectrum is, but come to working together to resolve these issues between agencies.

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