Spectrum Evaluation Bill Introduced

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) have teamed up to introduce the bipartisan Government Spectrum Valuation Act.

The bill would require the federal government to establish and publish a commercial value on government spectrum holdings. One big criticism of the government's scoring of spectrum-related legislation is that unlicensed spectrum is not given a value.

The bill would place the value at what it would be worth "if the spectrum were reallocated for the use with the highest potential value of licensed or unlicensed commercial wireless services that do not have access to that spectrum as of the date of the estimate."

"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," said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. "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.”

“It is important for the American people to know just how valuable spectrum is to our nation,” said Rep. Clarke. “This is a crucial resource to promote innovation to meet consumer demand in a post-COVID America as many work and learn from home."

“NCTA welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan Government Spectrum Valuation Act by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Yvette Clarke today," said the association in a statement. "[The bill] would require federal government agencies to account for the value of their spectrum resources. We applaud the bill’s recognition that the value of spectrum resources can be driven by their potential to be used for either licensed or unlicensed technologies, particularly given estimates that unlicensed technologies like WiFi will generate more than $993 billion in value for the U.S. economy per year by 2023.”

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.