Hill Looks To Goose Federal Spectrum Commercial Use

Bipartisan-backed versions of a federal spectrum bill were introduced in the House and Senate last week.

The Federal Spectrum Incentive Act (H.R. 3674), which was introduced in the last Congress but failed to pass, would provide financial incentives to government agencies to relocate spectrum for commercial purposes as well as create an incentive auction for that freed-up spectrum similar to the one planned for reclaimed broadcast spectrum.

The House version was reintroduced by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), co-chairs of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus. It is cosponsored by the chair and ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee.

A senate version was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).

Federal agencies are under pressure from the President to free up spectrum through sharing or relocation so it can be repurposed for mobile broadband.

“The AWS-3 auction highlighted the appetite for increased spectrum in the marketplace," said Matsui in reintroducing the legislation. "This legislation would create the first ever incentive auction for federal agencies and – for once – offer revenue to federal spectrum users. It is a game-changer..."

"We applaud the sponsors of the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act for their vision and pragmatic approach to addressing our nation's wireless spectrum deficit," said Andy Levin, senior VP of government affairs for T-Mobile. "Freeing up more spectrum for commercial use is the key to a future that offers wireless innovation, job growth and true carrier competition."

“CTIA welcomes the reintroduction of the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, which is the type of forward-thinking bipartisan spectrum policy that we need to meet our nation’s commercial and government spectrum needs," said CTIA VP of government affairs, Jot Carpenter. "The demand for additional commercial spectrum is well-documented and when federal spectrum isn’t being used or used efficiently, it makes sense to incent federal users to give it up so it can be repurposed for commercial use. The model proposed by Representatives Matsui and Guthrie and Senators Markey and Fischer can benefit resource-constrained federal agencies and encourage additional private sector investment and innovation. That’s the sort of win-win outcome that benefits everyone.”

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.