Senate Commerce Issues Ambitious Draft Spectrum Bill

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By Lydia Beyoud

Nov. 6 — The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee circulated sweeping draft legislation late Nov. 6 that would increase the amount of federal spectrum to be auctioned off over the next decade.

The draft legislation is titled the “Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act,” or the “MOBILE NOW Act” of 2015. It would modify the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015, a provision signed into law Nov. 2 as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The measure would increase from 30 megahertz (MHz) to 50 MHz the amount of government spectrum to be identified and auctioned off to private users by 2024.

The draft legislation also would provide a mechanism to incentivize federal agencies to relinquish spectrum, and would allow them to lease spectrum to the private sector, among other provisions.

A committee spokesman stressed that the text is only a draft intended to gather input as quickly as possible. Changes to the draft before introduction are still possible, the spokesman said.

No official introduction date has been set yet, the spokesman said via e-mail.

Text of the draft bill is at http://src.bna.com/YL.