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More wireless broadband spectrum auctions proposed in U.S. senate

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A second bill aimed at freeing up more wireless spectrum for broadband service is floating in the U.S. senate. Tagged the Airwaves act, it would set deadlines for the Federal Communications Commission to auction off several bands and other federal agencies to give up ownership of several more. It would also set aside 10% of the auction proceeds for wireless broadband infrastructure in poorly served rural areas.

It was introduced earlier this week by a bipartisan pair of senators – Maggie Hassan (D – New Hampshire) and Cory Gardner (R – Colorado) – and immediately praised by wireless industry lobbyists and FCC commissioners alike. Presumably they’ve seen the full text, although it hasn’t been officially published yet. On the public safety side of the fence, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council also seems to have seen it. According to a post on the group’s blog

By Dec. 31, 2018, the FCC would have to complete an auction of the 3550-3650 megahertz band. By Dec. 31, 2019, it would have to auction the 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), and 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz) bands, for which the FCC adopted rules last summer (TR Daily, July 14, 2016).

By Dec. 31, 2020, the FCC would have to complete an auction of bands that the FCC generally decided in a further notice last summer to study for 5G use. They are the 24-25 GHz (24.25-24.45/25.05-25.25 GHz), 32 GHz (31.8-33.4 GHz), 42 GHz (42-42.5 GHz), 48 GHz (47.2-48.2 GHz), and 51 GHz (50.4-52.6 GHz) bands.

Within one year, the FCC would have to identify spectrum between 71.25 and 84 GHz for unlicensed use…

The bill also would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to submit a report to Congress by Dec. 31, 2020, on the relocation of federal operations between 1300-1350 MHz and 1780-1830 MHz.

The Airwaves act joins the Mobile Now act in the U.S. senate’s hopper. Introduced at the beginning of the year, it’s been languishing in the commerce, science and transportation committee, despite (or perhaps because) its author is John Thune (R – South Dakota), the chair of that committee.