Skip to main content

Wireless Innovation Act Re-Introduced

A group of Republican Senate Commerce Committee members have reintroduced the Wireless Innovation Act.

The bill would goose government efforts to free up government spectrum for wireless broadband, including in the 5 GHz band.

Co-sponsors of the bill are Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee and Commerce members Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

“As wireless broadband and Internet connected devices continue to grow, the U.S. must continue to lead the world in wireless innovation and technology by making sure the federal government is using its spectrum in an efficient and responsible manner and freeing up additional spectrum for commercial use,” Rubio said in announcing the reintroduction of the bill. Rubio has been pushing for opening up spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use (

“The Wireless Innovation Act is an important step to ensure our commercial supply of spectrum can meet consumer demand, and we commend Senators Rubio, Wicker, Ayotte, Gardner and Johnson for continuing to champion such a forward-looking approach," said Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. "By reallocating underutilized government spectrum for commercial use, this bill will provide new ways to meet our ever-growing demand for ‘anytime/anywhere’ connectivity."

CTIA: The Wireless Association, which wants all the spectrum it can get, was pleased.

“With this legislation, Senators Rubio, Wicker, Ayotte, Gardner and Johnson make clear their commitment to continued innovation and American leadership in mobile broadband," CTIA said. "By creating a spectrum pipeline and encouraging more transparency and efficiency among federal spectrum users, this forward-looking legislation sets the stage for bringing additional – and much-needed – spectrum to market and spurring investment and economic growth.”         

The bill would:

1. "Require NTIA to identify and reallocate 200 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz and currently allocated primarily to the federal government for commercial mobile use (140 MHz for licensed use; 40 MHz for shared; 20 MHz for unlicensed use);

2. "Establish an auction pipeline to ensure the 200 MHz of spectrum identified by NTIA is reallocated in a clear, predictable manner;

3. "Allocate portions of the auction proceeds be made available to federal entities for conducting research and development and other engineering activities to:

4. "Identify alternative spectrum (either federal or non-federal) that existing systems can be relocated to,

5. "Develop technologies that will allow existing systems to be relocated and shared with other Federal systems, and

6. "Develop cost and time estimates for relocating existing systems;

7. "Require OMB to report to Congress details of how agencies are using these funds so Congress knows how agencies are utilizing the funds and what bands agencies are considering for potential use;

8. "Promote secondary spectrum markets by expediting the FCC review period for routine license transfers;

9. "Require OMB to review agency requests for new or modified frequency assignments for a wireless service by requiring agencies to submit an analysis addressing issues including whether commercial services could be used instead of new or modified frequencies, whether other Federal spectrum could be used or shared, and whether the service requires frequency below 3 GHz;

10. "Provide transparency on the use and value of federal spectrum by requiring NTIA to develop a framework to determine the commercial value of each federal spectrum band, and requiring federal agencies to report the opportunity cost borne for each spectrum band that is entirely under the control of that agency as part of its budget; and

11. "Promote the deployment of wireless infrastructure on federally owned buildings and property by streamlining the process by creating a standard fee and master application to grant real property interests."

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.