Lawmakers push to expand agency spectrum sharing

radio spectrum 

A bipartisan set of lawmakers introduced legislation that would provide additional resources for agencies looking to help open up more federal spectrum for commercial use.

The chairs of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), introduced the Spectrum Now Act on June 6. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced companion legislation the same day.

The legislation is designed to build on the Spectrum Pipeline Act, 2015 legislation that authorized the auction of 30 Megahertz of federal spectrum for shared or exclusive commercial use by 2024.

The 2015 legislation expanded a spectrum relocation fund to compensate agencies that move to other spectrum. It also set up a $500 million pool for agency research and development, engineering studies, economic analyses and other planning activities related to relocating from their spectrum.

That initial $500 million outlay is running low and additional funds are needed to allow agencies already in the spectrum relocation research and development pipeline to proceed, lawmakers said.

The new bill "allows agencies that have submitted a plan to study the possibility of increasing their spectrum efficiency and relocating or sharing their spectrum with commercial users to access existing SRF funds that they currently cannot," said the joint statement. Without the measure, the legislators said, agencies would be unable to continue that research process.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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