There is something for everyone in H.R 4986, the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services, or RAY BAUM’S Act, which passed the House of Representatives this week. The bipartisan compromise included key provisions of the MOBILE NOW act, the House took steps to make sure more spectrum will be available for 5G technology deployment and streamlined siting of wireless infrastructure in federal lands.
“I would say that, as an infrastructure provider, we commend this effort to streamline deployments and expedite future spectrums auctions and hope to see the Senate pass this as well,” Carrie Ortolano, general counsel, CTI Towers, said. “In particular, CTI Towers applauds the effort to streamline and make uniform the process to place infrastructure on federal property and hopes to see more federal property available for infrastructure development as a result once this bill is passed.”
In particular, the bill directs the FCC to find 255 megahertz of federal and non-federal spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use, and it set a two-year deadline for the commission to authorize mobile or fixed terrestrial wireless use between 42000 MHz and 42500 MHz. Additionally, the FCC is charged with evaluating the feasibility of commercial wireless between 3100 MHz and 3550 MHz and between 3700 MHz and 4200 MHz.
“Specifically, by including both MOBILE NOW and the Spectrum Deposits Act in today’s compromise, it provides an important technical fix and lays important groundwork for the FCC to proceed with key spectrum auctions,” FCC Comm. Michael O’Reilly said in a statement. “Once this becomes law there are several large-scale spectrum auctions for mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum – especially the upper 37 GHz (37.6-38.6 GHz) – that the Commission needs to conduct in the very near future.
The bill reauthorizes the FCC for FY2019-FY2020 (the first time in 28 years) and sets new expectations for the agency in terms of transparency and more efficient processes.
Congress designated an independent inspector general to watch over the agency, elevated the role of Chief Information Officer to handling planning, and took actions concerning the fees charged by the Commission. The FCC was also directed to improve its wireless coverage maps.
The legislation combines an effort to streamline processes and increase transparency to the FCC to “maximize opportunities for public participation and efficient decision making” and establish a fund in the U.S. Treasury to pay for costs incurred by the broadcast TV repack.
FCC is also required evaluate the broadband coverage in Indian country and carry out rulemaking to address unserved tribal areas.
There is even something for the consumers in this law, helping the FCC and law enforcement protect them from fraudulent telephone calls, and to educate Americans about how to stop illegal calls. It will now go the Senate for a vote.
J. Sharpe Smith
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.