More Spectrum: Bill Would Put Value on Government Spectrum Holdings

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Things For Which We Are Thankful #2

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) recently introduced the Government Spectrum Valuation Act. The bill would require annual coordination of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the FCC, to determine the value of spectrum assigned or allocated to each federal agency. It would also require each federal agency to report the value of their spectrum in its financial statement, as well as the President’s budget.

Government agencies are being encouraged to use their spectrum more efficiently, and give up some for wireless broadband use. Putting a value on spectrum is a key part of that. The measure would cover frequencies between 3 kHz and 300 GHz. The value would be based on what the spectrum would be worth if it were repurposed for licensed or unlicensed commercial wireless services, according to the bill text.

“One of the first steps to conducting effective oversight is assessing the value of federal spectrum allocations. By simply calculating the value of federal spectrum allocations, Congress and the Administration will be better equipped to identify valuable federal spectrum bands and manage each federal spectrum allocation more efficiently,” said Sen. Lee.

Sen. Markey called spectrum the “oxygen” of the wireless world. “You cannot effectively manage what you have not measured, and this legislation will finally ensure the public knows the value of spectrum held by the federal government so we can ensure it is being put to the best use,” Markey said.

CTIA praised the measure, saying it’s needed to meet our country’s growing data needs. “By determining the market value of federal spectrum, Congress and the Administration will be better equipped to manage the government’s spectrum bands and ensure this valuable taxpayer resource is being put to its highest and best use,” said the wireless trade group.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has long promoted the concept of government agencies putting a market price on their spectrum holdings. Doing so, he said, “will fix a budgetary anomaly and promote overall spectrum efficiency by incentivizing each agency to release unneeded spectrum.”

November 21, 2018

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