House Votes to Renew FCC Spectrum Auction Authority

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

The House has voted to extend the FCC's spectrum auction authority and to free up more money for a suspect network tech rip and replace program. The legislation, H.R. 7624, the “Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022,” now must pass the Senate and be signed by the President or the FCC's spectrum auction authority will soon expire.

The bill was introduced by Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and 20 original bipartisan cosponsors.

Among the many things the bill does (see below for more) is to extend the FCC's spectrum auction authority to March 21, 2024. That authority expires September 30 of this year unless it is reauthorized.

The legislation would also make available additional frequencies in the 3.1–3.45 GHz band for shared federal and non-federal use, or a combination thereof, and provide more funds for the Secure and Trusted Reimbursement Program and a newly authorized Next Generation 9-1-1 grant program from spectrum auction proceeds. The bill passed by an en bloc vote of 336-90.

The FCC said that it is short $3.08 billion of the funds it needs to reimburse everyone eligible to receive money to rip and replace suspect network technology, as the FCC and Congress have mandated.

"The Spectrum Innovation Act preserves United States leadership in wireless technology and ensures Americans stay connected," said House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.). "Through this legislation, Congress is taking steps to protect national security, improve our public safety communications, and continue to push the Administration to manage our nation’s airwaves more effectively."

"CTIA commends the House for its swift passage of the Spectrum Innovation Act and the leadership of Chairman Doyle, Ranking Member Latta, and the bill's additional cosponsors," said CTIA senior VP, government affairs, Kelly Cole. "Authorizing and properly equipping the FCC to conduct auctions while filling our nation’s spectrum pipeline with key mid-band spectrum, is essential to fueling the rollout of robust 5G networks and protect America’s wireless leadership."

"NATE [The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association] applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 and is grateful for the leadership of Chairman Doyle, Ranking Member Latta and the bill’s additional cosponsors,” said NATE President Todd Schlekeway. [Our] members are on the front lines transforming these valuable spectrum airwaves into connectivity for enterprise and consumers. This legislation will allow more industry access to valuable mid-band spectrum which equates to more deployment opportunities for NATE member companies and 5G connectivity for American citizens." ■

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.