Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) today unveiled what they're calling the "Efficient Use of Government Spectrum Act," which would require the FCC to pair the 1755-1780 and 2155-2180 MHz spectrum blocks, which are already set for auction, for reallocation and auction for commercial wireless use.
The bill would give the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies located in the 1755-1780 MHz band five years to relocate off their band and give them adequate protections for reallocation, including reimbursements for planning costs and the acquisition of state-of-the-art replacement systems.
Stearns called the bill the next step in bringing the 1755-1780 MHz band to auction for commercial wireless use.
"Requiring the FCC to pair for auction the 1755-1780 band with the 2155-2180 band will bring more spectrum to the market and to consumers and raise $12 billion, most of which will go to the U.S. Treasury," Stearns argued.
The FCC's National Broadband Plan, which President Obama has already signed into law, calls for 500 MHz of new commercial spectrum in 10 years and gives the FCC the authority to conduct a variety of different auctions that will reallocate broadcast and government spectrum for commercial wireless use. The 1755-1780 MHz spectrum block was pulled from the law at the last minute, perhaps in part due to an assessment of possible complications inherent in repurposing the band of spectrum, which is largely populated by government entities.
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) led an inter-agency group to determine the viability of accommodating commercial wireless broadband in the 1755-1850 MHz band. It concluded that it is possible to repurpose all 95 megahertz of the band but estimated that it would cost $18 billion over 10 years to relocate all or most of the existing federal users in the band, not including costs to incumbent systems in comparable destination bands.
NTIA's report concluded that those federal agencies operating in the band needed to engage with carriers to identify potential solutions, which could include learning scenarios and a phased approach to commercial auctions and entry, as well as the possibility of spectrum sharing, which the NTIA called "a vital component of satisfying the growing demand for access to spectrum."