The Senate has reintroduced a bill to facilitates the speedy deployment of 5G by allowing government agencies to become more efficient and effective in their spectrum use and requiring key mid-band frequencies be made available for commercial wireless use.
The “Supplementing the Pipeline for Efficient Control of The Resources for Users Making New Opportunities for Wireless (SPECTRUM NOW) Act was brought up by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; U.S. Rep Doris Matsui, D-Calif.; and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.,
“Winning the race to 5G is critical to ensuring our nation’s security, economic prosperity, and closing the digital divide in rural America,” said Wicker. “We have already made considerable progress in that race. This legislation would continue that momentum by providing federal agencies the resources needed to make more spectrum available to the commercial wireless industry and other innovative industries.”
Specifically, The SPECTRUM NOW Act creates a pathway for agencies to modify their operations on federally-held spectrum to make those frequencies available for commercial wireless broadband use. Congress passed the Spectrum Pipeline Act in 2015, which broadened the scope of expenses that could be supported by the Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF). Current law allows federal agencies to perform research and development, engineering studies, economic analyses, and other planning activities that could lead to spectrum being repurposed for commercial use, but it limits the resources within the SRF that these federal agencies can actually access for this research and planning.
The SPECTRUM NOW Act allows agencies that have submitted a plan under the Spectrum Pipeline Act to access the existing, otherwise unused SRF funds that they currently cannot in order to study the possibility of increasing their spectrum efficiency and relocating or sharing their spectrum with commercial users. Without this fix, federal agencies that have currently identified spectrum that could be repurposed would be unable to conduct the engineering research that would result in the spectrum being made available for commercial wireless use.
Highlights of the SPECTRUM NOW Act include:
Click here to see the full bill.