Congress enacted the Spectrum Pipeline Act as part of its recent budget negotiations. This past weekend, however, members of the Senate Commerce Committee began exploring ways to expand upon that Act’s directive to deploy 30 MHZ of federally-held spectrum for commercial uses by 2022.
By way of a discussion draft, the MOBILE NOW Act would allow federal agencies to keep more of the proceeds from selling their spectrum, and would even allow agencies to lease spectrum to commercial entities, according to Politico.
The Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless
(MOBILE NOW) Act would codify that the 500 MHz the President has directed the government to free up by 2020 would still happen under a new President.
The bill would also: 1) provide federal agencies with up to 25% of the net auction proceeds from spectrum they are directed to give up for auction in the Spectrum Pipeline Act, but only if that payment is likely to boost the net proceeds from auctioning that reclaimed spectrum.
The bill would 1) allow for leasing, rather than auctioning, federal spectrum, in some circumstances; 2) put shot clocks on federal agency permission to private entities to use federal lands for broadband facilities including towers and antennas; 3) and potentially include a “dig once” provision that would require broadband conduit to be deployed during “below-ground” infrastructure work. That would expand the pipeline bill’s “dig once” provision, which requires that conduit when federal highway funds are use for road projects.
As Politic365 has previously noted, increasing the spectrum pipeline is vital to the nation’s ability to shore up the invisible infrastructure that fuels our growing innovation economy. The MOBILE NOW Act seems to go further towards ensuring that goal.