Today, August 2, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on "The Future of Spectrum." Speakers testifying at the hearing spotlighted pressing wireless spectrum issues, including renewing the FCC's spectrum auction authority, repurposing more mid-band spectrum for commercial use, and ensuring better cooperation between agencies on spectrum policy.
A key point made at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing was that renewal of the Commission's authority should be connected to Congressional directives that specific spectrum bands be repurposed and auctioned for private commercial use:
@CTIA Prez & CEO Meredith Attwell Baker @SenateCommerce hearing: Spectrum policy is out-of-balance in mid-band, with 2/3 held by govt. Lower 3 GHz, 7-8 GHz, and 4 GHz bands should be the immediate focus for maximizing amount of commercial licensed spectrum. #FutureofSpectrum— Seth Cooper (@CooperFSF) August 2, 2022
Mandates by Congress regarding specific bands will ensure that the agencies take action and that the spectrum is actually repurposed.
The Senate Commerce Committee hearing was particularly timely, as the ongoing 2.5 GHz band spectrum license auction (Auction #108) is the last near-term auction on the FCC's plate, and the House of Representatives passed the Spectrum Innovation Act (H.R. 7624) on July 27. As observed in my July 28 blog, the Spectrum Innovation Act would confer on the Commission an 18-month extension of its spectrum auction authority, which currently is set to expire later this year. The bill also would direct NTIA and FCC to examine and repurpose for public auction the next swath of spectrum in the lower 3 GHz band. Last week, Free State Foundation President Randolph May commended the House's passage of the bill, which is essential to replenishing the spectrum pipeline for next-generation wireless services.
Now it's the Senate's turn to pass legislation that will ensure that the future of spectrum will promote commercial wireless services, the American economy, and jobs. That legislation should extend the FCC's spectrum license auction authority and also mandate the repurposing of lower 3 GHz band as well as other specific bands for commercial use.