Bill Would Reclaim More Midband Spectrum for Commercial Broadband

Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.)
Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) (Image credit: U.S. House)

Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) have introduced a bill that would free up more spectrum for wireless broadband using a sharing approach.

The Spectrum Innovation Act (H.R. 5378) would free up midband spectrum for mobile broadband and authorize "opportunistic and other flexible uses."

It would make at least 200 MHz of spectrum in the 3.1-3.45 GHz band available for non-federal use (it is currently used by the Defense Department), shared federal and non-federal use, or a combination of the two, with an incentive payment to federal users for facilitating sharing. It also authorizes the president to “withdraw” any federal spectrum assignment to accommodate shared or non-Federal use so long as it does not compromise the federal user.

The reclaimed spectrum would be put up for auction. 

The bill would also require a study identifying even more frequencies in the band that could be freed up.

“[I]t’s essential to make as much spectrum as possible available for improved broadband service for consumers and to promote new, innovative uses of our airwaves,” Doyle, chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, said of the bill. “The Spectrum Innovation Act would do both.“  

”We stand at a pivotal moment in the development and deployment of next generation networks; the Spectrum Innovation Act will unleash the economic potential of this valuable midband spectrum and give us the tools necessary to meet the communications challenges of tomorrow,” Matsui said.

“The Spectrum Innovation Act of 2021 demonstrates a balanced approach to making critical midband spectrum in the 3.1-3.45 GHz band available for commercial use,” NCTA-The Internet & Television Association said.

“In consultation with relevant federal partners, the legislation would allow this band to be modeled after the successful 3.5-GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service shared-use approach, which has been proven to protect the important federal uses of the band, garnered an unprecedented number of auction participants and supports a wide range of use cases,” NCTA said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.